1. Obviously, the top loser was the Senator himself. He laid the seeds of defeat early on by his attacks on fellow Republicans Jay Dardenne and Scott Angelle. Both are well-liked statewide officials who have done a good job in their respective offices. Vitter had a stronger base of supporters and significantly more campaign dollars. It just was not necessary to attack both of these candidates as he continued to do.
As the campaign wore on, the animosity grew, and Vitter lost any chance of uniting the Republican brand in the run off. To show how poorly he failed in this regard, Vitter was beaten badly in his home parish of Jefferson, a strong republican bastion of voters. They dumped their local guy from their own party, and jumped into the abyss of supporting a democrat.
2. Big Business. The top business voice in the state is LABI, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. The leadership waffled on both if and when to endorse. By the time they leaped on what they thought was the Vitter victory bandwagon, their support was too little and way too late. The same vacillation came from the other major business groups including the La. Chemical Association and the Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association. Their support for Vitter came in the eleventh hour, past the time to make any significant difference.
3. Bobby Jindal- There has never been any love lost between the current governor and Vitter. And it seems to many in the state GOP that Jindal took one final shot at the Senator in the waning days of the campaign. Vitter had some momentum in his last minute effort to tie John Bel Edwards to President Obama over bringing Syrian refugees to Louisiana. It was a good issue for Vitter and the polls indicated a tightening race.
Then Jindal grabbed the state headlines by dropping out of the presidential race, and Vitter’s attacks were relegated to the back burner. Jindal could have waited a few more days for his final demise, but his push for news headlines squashed any impetus for Vitter to close the gap. Jindal got in the last punch but belittled himself even more, if that were possible.
4. The TV Debates-TV moderators in just about every televised debate did little to challenge the gubernatorial candidates on important state issues. Particularly bizarre was the New Orleans debate broadcast statewide and sponsored by TV station WDSU. The moderator ignored financial and educational issues, spending the majority of time quizzing candidates about their pot smoking habits as kids, and whether they belonged to a gun club. The few that watched any of the debates gained sparse knowledge about what the candidates would do in addressing a number of front burner issues on finance, health and education.
5. Educational Reform-Under state education superintendent John White, Louisiana has been recognized nationwide for a number of educational reforms, particularly in the growth of charter schools and the modification of teacher tenure. New governor John Bel Edwards has opposed most of these changes and has called for White’s firing. White has a stellar reputation as an educational reformer around the country and can write his ticket if he wants to leave for greener pastures. He probably will and Louisiana will be the loser.
Sure there are a number of big winners. The biggest champs were Louisiana television stations that raked in almost $20 million in the governor’s race alone. We will have a long list of winners in next week’s column. But let’s give the losers a week to lick their wounds. And in the immortal words of Imelda Marcos, “Win or lose, we go shopping after the election.”
Peace and Justice
Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.