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Thursday, 01 March 2012 13:22
Louisiana Democrats Need More Than Tours and Web Sites
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louisiana_capitolAfter resounding losses and inept showings during the recent state elections,  does the Louisiana Democratic Party have a chance to rebound to its former self? With the efforts made by the party in recent weeks, are they on the road to hope return?

Bayoubuzz asked political analyst and pollster Bernie Pinsonat to address these and other issues in the continuing series of Bernie Burns: 

 The Louisiana Democratic Party and Democratic candidates have taken a beating over the past years since Hurricane Katrina.  This was strongly evidenced by the fact that no Democrat stepped into the arena last year to run for statewide elective office.   However, the Party has recently attempted to make a comeback with a tour across the state and with an interactive website.

Also, the legislative session is full of issues that play right into the Democratic base with labor unions and government employees.  This year is a national election year which further defines state parties and campaigns.

 So, do you see the Democrats making any real gains due to the tour and website?

After the fall elections last year, some political pundits said the democrats reached the bottom of their political stature free fall. You can make that claim and the following reasons explain why. After reapportionment carved out numerous house and senate districts containing a majority of black voters, white democrat’s decades of dominating Louisiana politics was over! The political landscape that continued to elect Edwin Edwards four times was coming to an end. Republican now had the opportunity to win elections in areas they had no shot at winning for the last century. The passage of right to work laws and the emergence of the business community (led by Ed Stimel) as a powerful political force was lost on the democrats. The election of Barack Obama did accelerate the loss of white democratic elected officials; this trend had begun long before the election of Barack Obama. In 2011 the democrat’s fortunes had sunk to a new low – they had no chance to elect a democrat statewide. However, Democrats did have a few house and senate districts left that contain enough black voters making it very difficult to elect a republican. Those particular white democrats did win, so it is fair to say the democrats did win the races they should have won and stabilized. Electing more white democrats with new web sites and traveling tours across the state is not the answer!

Are there any Democrats with the potential to win either statewide elections or even Congressional, other than Cedric Richmond, a New Orleans Democrat?

There may be others, but I think State Senator Gary Smith has potential to win an election in the next four to six years at just about any level he chooses!  What are his advantages?  His family’s resources are a huge plus if he decides to purse higher office; he married Russell Long’s granddaughter and he won convincingly last year in beating the republican candidate supported by Governor Jindal and David Vitter. He now represents portions of Jefferson Parish, Lafourche, St John and his home parish of St Charles. What a great population base to launch a campaign from. Another huge plus for Gary Smith, he was endorsed by LABI’s political business PAC. The anti-business tag that republican use to defeat democrats was not available in this election! Gary is young enough, has more than enough political capital to be considered a democrats that can win at the congressional or state level! Political watchers keep your eye on this guy – he is a comer!

If you were leading the Democratic Party, what would you do to help energize it despite the conservative nature of the state and the more “progressive” nature of the national party?

This is a deep south red state – if you are not pro small business – forget about returning to power. Labor is not a political force and has not been for the last twenty years. Trial lawyers cannot raise one twentieth the money republicans can raise from businesses. Louisiana is so anti trial lawyer – we do allow punitive damages. It does not matter if pro-business democratic candidates did not win in the last few years. They will win in the near future – Barack Obama will not be president forever- the future looks brighter for democrats as the party of people who support small businesses.



Photo: Bernie Pinsonat

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