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.