Friday, 22 July 2011 20:04
Jindal, Elections And The Hot Summer Of Louisiana Politics
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LouisianaIt’s hot, very hot. Football is too far away. Congress is acting like an unsupervised asylum. Candidates are beginning to crawl out of the woodwork for the state elections this fall, which means our radios and televisions are about to be usurped by negative campaign advertising. In short, it is almost August in an election year in Louisiana. Some thoughts on that….

            THE DEBT LIMIT DEBACLE: As a nation we have a $14.3 trillion federal cumulative debt that costs us—you, me, millions like us and millions yet unborn—an arm and a leg in interest costs annually. Instead of paying down that debt, our federal government is currently running annual deficits of more than $1 trillion a year. Our fiscal “stewards” in Washington want to raise the debt limit to accommodate the huge annual deficits and expand the gargantuan cumulative debt. Logic would dictate that any increase in the limit on our crushing level of federal debt should be accompanied by spending reductions that will curb its growth going forward. That should be accompanied by policies that will foster economic growth. Sustained economic expansion is the best hope for solving the debt crisis. Taxpayers should judge the president and Congress on the debt limit issue by how their approach to the problem addresses runaway entitlement spending and encourages economic growth. Those two items are critical to the fiscal future of America.

            THE INVASION OF THE POLITICAL ADS: Qualifying for election to statewide office, the Legislature, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), and other state offices will occur September 6-8. The primary election will be held October 22. The general election to decide the runoffs will be November 19. The marquee race, as always, will be the one for governor. On paper, it looks like anything but a nail-biter. Governor Jindal is running for re-election with a war chest of close to $9 million. An incumbent with $9 million is very tough to beat. If this were a horse race, the track wouldn’t allow show betting. It is critical for Democrats to field a viable candidate in the race. Not seriously challenging a strong Republican at the top of the ballot can lead to a greater number of Democratic losses in close races farther down the ballot. The main question about the governor’s race at this point is whether the Democrats can field a candidate with sufficient funding to fire up and turn out the base Democratic vote.

            The most interesting elections will be for the Legislature. Republicans currently hold a 55-47 advantage over Democrats in the House (with three Independents). In the Senate, the GOP holds a 22-17 advantage. Governor Jindal has launched a $2 million effort to elect more Republicans to the Legislature. Another group, the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority continues to raise substantial amounts of money for the legislative races. The most interesting aspect of the fall races will be how many additional legislative seats—if any—the GOP can capture with the money and momentum they have in their favor.

            EDUCATION REFORM IS THREATENED: Another crucial set of races will be those for BESE. The stage is being set for hotly contested races between education reformers and protectors of the education establishment. The stakes are high and the future of education progress in Louisiana is on the line. Voters need to learn which candidates are for students and which are for the central office bureaucracies and system employees.

            Yes, the dog days of summer are here—in an election year. It’s hot, too hot. Football is too far way. The president keeps imitating Hamlet and the Congress, King Lear. Our TV sets are about to spit forth vile venom. But we can fight back—by voting.             

by Dan Juneau

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