Of course, the infamous 1991 Louisiana Governor’s election between David Duke and Edwin Edwards featured the highest turnout in state history, with 73% of eligible voters participating. In recent gubernatorial elections, the turnout has been closer to 50%. With the rampant voter apathy in this race, it is doubtful that turnout will match the rather pathetic recent average of 50% participation.
It is a shame that more voters are not energized by a race that features a Public Service Commissioner, a State Representative, a U.S. Senator and a Lt. Governor. All of these elected officials are very experienced and skilled politicians.
At this point, it is time for voters to get engaged for the stakes are extremely high. Louisiana is facing potential catastrophes in a number of areas: spending, higher education, health and criminal justice. The next Governor will have to work with the legislature to fix the mistakes of the previous administration.
Louisiana is also is desperate need for leadership after two terms of an absentee Governor. Bobby Jindal has used the state to launch a presidential bid. By any measure, his shameless tactics failed. Nationally, Jindal is registering zero percent in the polls. His statewide approval rating is only slightly better at 32%.
Yet, Jindal was not the only failure the state has experienced as Governor in recent years. Preceding Jindal, Governor Kathleen Blanco was overwhelmed by events during her term and largely failed the leadership test. Before Blanco it was Governor Mike Foster, who spent his tenure learning how to fly a helicopter, fishing and hunting and attending law school. Prior to Foster, it was Governor Edwin Edwards and we all know what happened to him. Serving between various Edwin Edwards terms were Governors Buddy Roemer and Dave Treen, who had honorable intentions but were ultimately not successful in pursuing the reforms they envisioned. Sadly, the last truly successful Governor of Louisiana was John McKeithen who he left office in 1972.
It is time that Louisiana voters selected a candidate who can provide competent leadership and use his political capital to make tough decisions. We need a Governor who is not selfish and truly cares about the great people of Louisiana.
The next Governor needs to call a special session to address a myriad of issues such as reigning in a large state bureaucracy to eliminating the many wasteful state consulting contracts. We also need reform in our healthcare system and a consolidation of our higher education systems and boards. A more pressing issue involves the huge structural budget deficit, as well as a lack of funding for Medicaid and TOPS.
The stakes are high, the issues are critical, so it is imperative that voters become engaged quickly to make the right decision in this Governor’s race. We literally can’t afford to continue the mistakes of the past.