(In the final days of an election, there is so much information from so many races, it's difficult to stay on top of every story and understand the subtle dynamics often at play on the ground. Thankfully, we have an expansive 50-state blogosphere to match our 50-state strategy. Over the last two weeks of the campaign, we've asked leaders of the state blogospheres to provide insight into late developments and share the stories of their states in a series we're calling "Listening to the Locals." SusanG)
Bonjour from the Bayou State! I’m Ryan from The Daily Kingfish. Let’s talk about the races going on now before discussing potential candidates running against Sinator Vitter in 2010:
LA-Sen: Senator Landrieu is sitting pretty, partly because she’s run an effective campaign, which included the first-ever statewide field program in Louisiana, and partly because her opponent, John Neely Kennedy, is one confused politician. Senator Landrieu’s work after Hurricane Katrina has won her supporters in both parties, prompting the State GOP Chairman to warn about the "consequences" of supporting a Democrat. Even so, traitorous Congressman Rodney Alexander spoke favorably of Senator Landrieu at a campaign fundraiser.
LA-01: For the first time in recent memory, we’ve got a competitive election in this district. The current Congressman Steve "Mistake On the Lake" Scalise is so out of touch that he doesn't even know that the drainage project he was touting on television last week was cancelled by the Corps of Engineers the day before. Perhaps if he showed up to the meeting where the Corps discussed the cancellation with residents, he would have known. Unfortunately, doing such things is beneath him. His opponent, Jim Harlan, is an energy expert who worked for Presidents Carter and Reagan, has released a great plan for Hurricane Protection, and will put people before politics.
LA-04: This race was pushed back one month due to Hurricane Gustav, so on Tuesday we’re having party primary run-offs between Democrats Colonel WIllie Banks and Caddo Parish DA Paul Carmouche, and Republicans Chris Gorman and John Fleming. Whomever wins the Democratic primary has a leg up in one regard, as the Republican primary has been long on attacks and short on issues by both candidates. The general election will be held on the first Saturday in December.
LA-06: Rep. Don Cazayoux, the winner of this spring’s special election, is in a fight to retain this seat. He faces a well-funded Republican in Bill Cassidy, but also his opponent from the Democratic primary this spring, Michael Jackson, who decided to run as an Independent. This race is only close due to a union-bashing construction company owner, L. Lane Grigsby, whose family has not only donated nearly half the funds that Mr. Jackson has raised, but has also donated more than is legally allowed to Bill Cassidy. In addition, he’s spent thousands on anti-union mailers misrepresenting Dr. King to black voters. Don’s victory this spring gave the unions a lil’ bounce in their step, which scared ol’ Lane. Sending Don back to Washington will be even sweeter this time around.
LA-07: The current Congressman, Lord Charles Boustany, (he tried to buy a title of nobility back in the 1990’s), has not represented this district, hit by Hurricane Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Ike last month, well. Boustany says he’s for SCHIP, yet voted against it every time it came up in the House; he says he’s got a plan for hurricane protection, yet never introduced a bill on the issue; and he voted to raise his pay in Congress, but voted against the minimum wage increase. The Democrat in this race, State Sen. Don Cravins, Jr., has been barnstorming the district calling for honest representation. The voters will always know where he stands because he won’t lie to them, and he’ll get right to work on helping Southwest Louisiana rebuild after the hurricanes of the last 3 years.
2010 Senate Race: Sinator Vitter will run, but rumors abound about Republican challengers. Let’s talk potential Democratic challengers:
Congressman Charlie Melancon: He’s the Congressman from LA-03, and he won re-election by acclamation, which is impressive, considering he was first elected by 569 votes in 2004. He’s got over $1 million in the bank, and has spent quite a bit of time raising money and stumping for other Congressional candidates across the South and Mid-West. His drawback is that he’s a south Louisianan, so his task will be to make himself known in central and northern Louisiana.
Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy: He won election to the Mayoralty in 2006, and since then, has been rapidly improving the quality of life - hiring more community police officers, reinvesting in the downtown core - as well as making government more transparent and accountable to the people. His efforts have won him approval ratings of over 70%, but the drawback is that he’s the Mayor of mid-sized city in central Louisiana. There is a feeling that we need a Senator from central or northern Louisiana, and he certainly fits the bill. But he needs to start fundraising and meeting folks around the state soon.
State Senator Lydia Jackson: She is a State Senator that represents Shreveport, and has over 25 years of experience in public policy, community advocacy and planning. She’s got experience working in Washington for the late Senator J. Bennett Johnston, and is a Vice President and Business Development Officer for Capital One Bank in North Louisiana. She is the only African-American I’ve heard spoken of as a potential candidate.
Shaw Chairman Jim Bernhard: As the CEO of the only Fortune 500 company based in Louisiana, he has a lot of money to spend. He considered running for Governor last fall, even putting a poll into the field, but decided against it. He thought about running for Congress in LA-06, as he resides in Baton Rouge, but ultimately decided not to. The money he can spend makes him the wild card in a Democratic primary.
And last, but not least, GEAUXBAMA!