LA-GOV: Republicans Splinter; Boasso Surges

Crossposted at Daily Kingfish

The coverage of L’Affaire Vitter is just beginning to have its discursive effects: the Republican Party is splintered, and Walter Boasso is experiencing the first phase of what will be an unstoppable surge.  According to an Anzalone-Liszt poll cited by Steven Sabludowsky of The Bayou Buzz,

“Boasso has more than tripled his current vote since May, moving from 6% to 21% with just four weeks of a moderate television buy. Currently Jindal leads with 52%, followed by Boasso (21%), Campbell (6%) and Georges (1%). One-in-five voters are still undecided (21%).

Not only has Boasso moved up 15 points, the undecided vote has increased by 7 points, from 14% to 21%. The Boasso television has softened Jindal and Campbell’s support and moved some of their votes to the undecided column. (Campbell’s support is down to 6%, from 9% in May).”

Walter Boasso educates the voters; Walter Boasso’s numbers grow.  And I imagine they will continue to grow once voters realize “Bobby” Jindal’s misleading message of ethics and change has no real empirical basis.  That Foster Campbell and John Georges are yet to air television commercials should be kept in mind.  In other words, Jindal will find himself in what will be a bitter but entertaining runoff.

Also interesting in Sabludowsky’s article is following report from the Jindal rally in Kenner:

But, after attending the Jindal rally in Kenner Louisiana (a suburb of New Orleans), there was no question that anger was in the air.  One very prominent Republican leader told me off the record that Vitter only cares about himself.  So, why Vitter chose one hour before the Jindal rally escapes many.

Kenner is the base of Jindal and Vitter.  If voters are confused and exasperated in Jefferson Parish, I can only wonder what they are saying in other areas of the state.  I know voters are not terribly pleased with either of the ethically and morally challenged Republicans in my neck of the woods.

Sabludowsky’s claim that Jefferson Parish voters are splintered and upset is corroborated by Jeff Crouère’s discussion of how all the media attention directed to the Vitter press conference in Metairie upset Jindal partisans, as they feel their candidate is entitled to all the coverage.  If this has created a Republican rift as Crouère alleges, Jindal may have a problem consolidating the Republican vote by October.

The Governor’s race is far from over, mes amis.  Georges and Campbell are not yet on the air, and Boasso is still introducing himself to voters.  To use of trite phrase that is the rallying cry of Daily Kingfish: Laissez les bons temps rouler!


LA-GOV: Campaign Season Begins

I am actually quite fond of this one minute, introductory commercial: Boasso covers the issues; he announces his party affiliation; the commercial is playful but substantive; Boasso outlines a biography of success, Louisiana style; and it is organized and coherent.  What do all of you think?  What are your impressions of Walter Boasso? 

Here is the link:


Watch the video entitled “Big Challenges.”

LA-GOV: Reading Walter Boasso (D-Arabi), Reading a Southern Republican’s Party Switch

First posted at Daily Kingfish, a Louisiana political blog started by two SSP members from Louisiana.

This election cycle could not be more frustrating and confusing, and I hope I am the only one who is already exhausted.  But at least our state Party has not stacked the deck in favor of one candidate who has a vague campaign message full of platitudes with no solutions and no unifying theme, unless an identity suspended in quotation marks, “Bobby,” constitutes a theme.  To me it appears to be a floating signifier, a mere vocalization that refers to no mental concepts and to no objects that exist in the tangible world.  Republican bloggers must be really bored with the rehashed and revisited rhetoric of 2003 with all the same tropes of Democratic corruption and all the same idle crowing about the wonderful ideas ready to spring from the intelligent mind of “Bobby,” as if he were a modern day Zeus.  How many times can a blogger type, “It is not who you know; it is what you know?”  How many times can one beg readers “not to vote for ideology but for competence?”  How many times does one have to avoid discussing the legislative record of someone who mindlessly voted for the national GOP’s disastrous policies 97% of the time?  How many times can one use the same sheet of toilet paper? 

Because Ryan has already penned a diary on Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, I will deal with the rhetoric surrounding the latest Democratic candidate to announce: Walter Boasso, former Republican but now Democratic state Senator from Arabi, St. Bernard Parish.

Louisiana politics is never boring, and this cycle will be no exception.  So the Southern Strategy is ready to enter phase 4 and swallow Louisiana once and for all.  Democrats, the LCRM claims, will lose seats or be pressured to switch parties, and “Bobby” will be rewarded with a Republican majority in the state House on the day of his coronation, a ceremony to be funded with the precious budget surplus the Republicans ostensibly want to protect.  Republican realignment, we are told, is dawning over the horizon.  But how does this square with the novelty of a Republican state Senator in a Deep South state switching to the Democratic Party?  Boasso’s move is somewhat anomalous, and if one chooses to think about this phenomenon historically, it may signal the obsolescence of the 40 year effort of the Republican Party to colonize the South.  And Boasso may be in good hands.  For on the other end of the South, we have a new Democratic US Senator in Virginia named Jim Webb, who switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party last year, when he won his Senate race by a nailbiting 7,000 votes.

So Boasso’s switch may have a broader significance lost on those who are focused on the empirical and on the partisan and not on the historical.  Do not expect LSU – Shreveport Political Science Professor Jeffery Sadow to engage in such an abstract mode of thinking, for that may require some thought and effort.  But to return to the point of this essay, will Boasso exploit it?  Will Boasso use his party switch to his advantage and to the advantage of the Louisiana Democratic Party?  Is his switch a harbinger for something much larger than himself? 

According to Boasso,

[T]oday I have rejoined the Democratic Party because [sic] I believe that running as a Democrat will give me the best opportunity to push an agenda for change and reform.  The people of Louisiana, regardless of party affiliation, are in search of a leader, and are [sic] eager to stand side by side with someone willing to challenge the establishment and reform our state.

An interesting transvaluation of Republican tropes: reform, change and leadership are now in the purview of the Democratic Party, and the values of the silent majority are to be found underneath the Democratic umbrella, not the dysfunctional, slipshod apparatus brandished by the Republicans.  And state Democratic Party Chairman Chris Whittington is right there in Boasso’s big tent.  Responding to a question about Boasso’s party switch, Whittington quips, “The more the merrier.”  Boasso continues:

The political deal makers have run this state for too long at the expense of so many of our people who need affordable healthcare, quality education and the opportunity to secure a good paying job.  I will not be silenced by the status quo or by those unwilling to embrace a new direction for our state.  The challenges are too large and [sic] we have no time to waste.

Now this is a powerful paragraph.  Corruption and cronyism are placed squarely on the lap of the Republican Party, as are inflexibility, the status quo and useless dilatory tactics, a coded phrase that can be translated to mean inefficient government that enjoys wasting time. 

These are the words of a fighter, and Boasso is not taking any prisoners.  This must have grated on state Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere’s nerves.  And Villere’s response?

Some politicians switch parties because of philosophy and principle. … Walter has made it clear that he is just the opposite. He’s switching because he hasn’t been successful as a Republican candidate.

This is a petty response more befitting a schoolyard bully than a Party Chairman who locked a credible candidate named Walter Boasso out of the political process.   Actually, it does befit Roger Villere, for he is a schoolyard bully.  But if Villere desires to discuss principle and philosophy, let us discuss the many southern Democrats who switched to the Republican Party during the last three decades of the twentieth century as a result of their opposition to Civil Rights legislation.  Let us discuss the southern Republican Party’s use of coded and overt racism to increase white, Republican turnout in close elections.  Let us discuss the southern Republican Party’s roots in figures such as Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms. And let us discuss some of its more recent incarnations, George “Macaca” Allen, David Duke and LSU – Shreveport Professor Jeffrey Sadow, who claims Boasso “is even more off the reservation than Campbell.”  If Boasso is the opposite of those who adhere to racist principles and philosophies, I am more than ready to embrace his candidacy.

But notice what else Boasso mentions in this paragraph:  Boasso switched to the Democratic Party, as Boasso hopes to address the problems of healthcare, education and un(der)employment.  This is not your typical Republican menu of wedge issues with “family values,” guns and tax breaks as your main entrées and a gratuitous jab at the Landrieus as the lagniappe; this to me reads as the domestic agenda of a Democratic candidate.  Although I am still awaiting the specifics, I am impressed with what I see thus far.

Do you believe Boasso will propose a Democratic social agenda?  How many of his positions do you believe he will modify?  And how do you believe the Democratic Party should handle Boasso’s switch?  Should Chris Whittington make this into a world historical event, or should he allow Roger Villere to frame it as so much political prostitution?  And how should Boasso explain his decision to switch parties?  Should he mention President Bush’s approval ratings?  Should he mention Iraq?  Should he mention the disaster that was the 109th Congress?  Should he discuss how Jindal was one of the reasons the 109th Congress is named the “do nothing” Congress?  And should he mention Jindal’s failure to “get it done” for Louisiana? 

Feel free to quote from other news sources in the comments thread.  And be sure to read Jeffrey Sadow’s insane meditation on Boasso’s switch.  Sadow is so unglued, leather restraints cannot hold him back. 


LA-GOV: John Georges’s Poll

Crossposted at Daily Kingfish, a Louisiana politics blog by and for Louisiana Democrats

Even though the full results have been made available to the media, the Louisiana GOP refuses to read and to acknowledge a Verne Kennedy poll commissioned by John Georges, Republican candidate for Governor from Metairie.  The poll of 600 Louisianans conducted 29 March through 3 April yielded some interesting results.  According to the Shreveport Times,

When the poll concentrated only on Jindal, Breaux and Georges, the responses to the question about which candidate the respondent would chose if the election were today were 39 percent for Jindal, 30 percent for Breaux and 14 percent for Georges, with 17 percent uncertain.

And they continue,

In the trial heat between Jindal and Breaux, 49 percent chose Jindal and 36 percent Breaux, with 15 percent undecided.

Jindal and the Louisiana GOP thought Jindal would coast to the Governor’s mansion in October.  Jindal has been campaigning throughout the state for months, including making appearances and offering “testimony” in Baptist churches, and the Louisiana GOP daily demonizes every candidate who has announced an intention to run, whether it be Walter Boasso (R-Arabi), John Breaux (D-Crowley) or John Georges, who Roger Villere, Chairman of the Louisiana GOP, calls an “opponent.”  Given all this effort on behalf of Jindal by the Louisiana GOP, one would expect Jindal to be a prohibitive favorite, not a mere favorite, especially since Jindal has been behaving as if he is the heir apparent since Blanco announced her intention to not run for reelection.  49%, in other words, is a weak number for someone who is treated as an incumbent both by the media and by his political party.

The following should also serve as a source of aggravation for an already splenetic Louisiana GOP, especially as Breaux, Campbell, Boasso and Georges are yet to engage in full campaigning:

In a trial heat for governor, when voters were read a list of all possible candidates for governor, the preferences were 39 percent for Jindal, 23 percent for Breaux, 10 percent for Georges, 5 percent for Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, 4 percent for state Treasurer John Kennedy, 2 percent for Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and 1 percent each for state Sen. Walter Boasso and former Attorney General Richard Ieyoub.

Perhaps 39 percent is the highest Jindal can earn with the present field of candidates in the jungle primary.  Yes, Mitch Landrieu, Richard Ieyoub and John Kennedy have not announced and will not announce, but I doubt supporters of John Kennedy and especially Mitch Landrieu and Richard Ieyoub will cast their votes for Jindal.  And I imagine Foster Campbell, Walter Boasso, John Georges and John Breaux will expand their bases once they launch their respective campaigns.  After all, Breaux has not officially announced, and John Georges, who hails fom Jinda’s Congressional district, will, according to, which requires a subscription,

emphasize his similarities on economic and social issues with Republican frontrunner Congressman Bobby Jindal before drawing distinctions in background and ability. “In July, people will look at that and say, ‘He’s just like Bobby.’ Then we will differentiate,” he said.
For instance: “The difference between Bobby and me is I am a decision maker while he is a policy maker,” he said. “Jindal suffers from the same problem Kathleen Blanco does. He waits to see which way the wind is blowing.”

Boasso will chip away at Jindal’s Republican base from the other end, the end of the reformer, the populist.  Here is Boasso’s message:

“It’s the same old people trying to control things,” he said. “They put it out into the public that it was a big consensus. That’s misleading.

“The days when these small groups of insiders determine our future has got to come to an end.”

And Boasso and Georges, both millionaires, will have the money to communicate their respective messages.

Jindal will not have much room to manoeuvre once Boasso and Georges introduce themselves to the public.  Moreover, Foster Campbell (D-Bossier City), former state Senator and current Public Service Commissioner for north Louisiana, will mobilize northern Louisianans and others disenchanted with utility companies and oil interests.  And complicating this is the base Breaux already has despite the Louisiana GOPs coordinated smear campaign, which includes letters to the editors of The Shreveport Times and  The Ouchita Citizen, biased journalism by sympathetic reports, a website and a redundant television ad airing throughout the state of Louisiana. 

Piyush “Bobby” may have to accept the 39% of Verne Kennedy’s poll, which probably explains why Roger Villere is now telling reporters he wants to abolish the jungle primary for state races.  If you cannot force everyone out of the field in the name of a Jindal victory, then I guess the only option left is to change the election process.  Why do Jindal and Villere have such contempt for Louisiana voters and for Louisiana election law?

LA-Gov: John Breaux (D) Will Probably Run

Here is some interesting news from the Cook Political Report:

February 16, 2007

Breaking News: Former Democratic Sen. John Breaux is seriously considering a bid for Governor of Louisiana.  John Maginnis, editor of the highly regarded Louisiana Political Fax Weekly, initially reported the news this morning, and the Cook Political Report has independently verified that it is true.  Apparently Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco has privately indicated a willingness to step aside if Breaux, or possibly another Democrat, such as Rep. Charlie Melancon, would run instead.

None of this is a done deal, but Breaux is serious, and his candidacy would change the face of the race for Democrats.

John Maginnis, the Republican operative Cook Political Report cites in their breaking report, writes the following:

Breaux Eyes Governor’s Race
Former Sen. John Breaux has told sources he is “very interested” in running for governor if Kathleen Blanco doesn’t. T. he Fax Weekly spoke to three individuals who say Breaux directly told them of his renewed interest during Washington Mardi Gras.
“This is the most interested I’ve seen him than all the other b.s. we’ve been through,” said a friend of the 61-year-old ex-senator turned high-powered Washington lobbyist. He toyed with campaigning for governor in 2003 and for re-election in 2004, holding the political community and other campaigns in suspense until he announced he would not run.
News of Breaux’s interest both heartens Democrats and puts pressure on Blanco to make her decision soon. The governor is said to have a poll in the field.

If Cook Political Report cites Maginnis, I believe this is news to be taken very seriously.  For Breaux, as many here already know, won his reelection bids for his US Senate seat in 1992 and 1998 in the open primary, not a runoff, with 73% and 64% respectively.  And unlike Landrieu, Breaux’s base is not in Orelans Parish; it is in Acadiana, specifically Acadia Parish.  Moreover, Breaux has overwhelmingly carried what is now the very important, indeed crucial, population center of East Baton Rouge Parish, a feat Mary Landrieu has had much difficulty acheiving, although her 2002 runoff performance is promising. 

Blanco claims a poll is presently in the field, but I am not sure it will convince her to run now that Beaux has indicated a strong interest in the gubernatorial race.  For a Southern Media and Opinion Research poll in January 2007 reported the following:

Republican Jindal leads Blanco, a Democrat, 59 percent to 35 percent, according to a survey of 600 likely voters conducted during the weekend by Southern Media and Opinion Research.

In a three-way race with Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, Jindal leads Blanco 58 percent to 31 percent, with Campbell pulling 6 percent.

I am not aware of any legislative feat Blanco has acheived with the state House or the state Senate in the past month, but she has managed to convince Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats to craft legislation to benefit Louisiana.  Blanco has also spent the last month vociferously criticizing Bush in the wake of Brown’s statement that the Bush Administration purposefully undermined Louisiana in order to undercut Blanco’s credibility.

But there are at least three variables we need to consider before we assume Breaux would beat Jindal in the open primary or in a very competitive runoff:  Foster Campbell, John Georges and Walter Boasso.  Foster Campbell, a populist Democrat from North Louisiana who is presently the Public Service Commissioner for one fifth of the state, has a warchest of $750,000, and he plans to run.  But Jindal will be splitting the Republican vote with at least Walter Boasso, a state Senator representing Plaquemines Parish, St. Bernard Parish and parts of St. Tammany Parish, and Orleans Parish businessman John Georges, who has committed $2 million of his own money to his campaign.  Jindal has $2.67 million, and Blanco has $3 million.  Although Breaux has not yet announced, I imagine he will match if not surpass Jindal’s warchest.  We should also keep in mind that Blanco, if she abandons her campaign, will have $3 million to distribute through various channels to Breaux. 

If Breaux chooses to run, this race will become very interesting.  As you can see, Jindal already has viable challenges from two Republicans and two Demcrats, Blanco included.  If Breaux enters, it may be possible Jindal does not even make a runoff, as he will split the Republican vote, particularly the Republican votes of populous Jefferson and St. Tammany Parishes, with a popular state Senator and a wealthy Orleans Parish businessman.  And Foster Campbell will complicate Jindal’s bid in North Louisiana, where Blanco, according to the January poll, still maintains an edge.  John Breaux will only compound the problems Jindal already faces, as Breaux will seriously reduce any support Jindal has in Acadiana, which according the January poll could have been a Jindal stronghold. 

While I am still awaiting Breaux’s entry, I am more optimistic about this race than I was a week ago.  A ticket of Jindal, Georges, Boasso, Breaux and Campbell will make it impossible for Jindal to win the Governor’s seat in 2007.  And I imagine this will make it very difficult for the Louisiana GOP to focus on state House and state Senate seats, as they will have to spend to ensure a Republican, any Republican, makes a runoff with Breaux.

And what of Foster Campell, you may ask?  It is a legitimate question.  Building name recognition in 2007, Campbell can prepare himself for a 2010 race against David Vitter, who is now, according to Maginnis, fashioning himself as another John Breaux.  Perhaps Vitter knows Louisianans are not ready to swallow his callous conservatism.