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Louisiana Governor’s Race: Vitter’s “V” baggage

vitter-teaThis week, Louisiana and the nation were treated with some big political news, not that it was unexpected.

U.S. Senator David Vitter decided to enter the Louisiana Governor’s Race although he apparently will keep his US Senate position.

 In the polls, Vitter has rebounded in popularity after taking a dive post DC Madam scandal.  In fact, he leads in the polling by a low double-digit margin over his most likely opponent, Jay Dardenne.

On Saturday, WGSO radio talk show host, Jeff Crouere, current radio talk show host and columnist Jim Brown and Jeff Crouere were invited to participate in a Google Hangout discussion.

Attorney and former Jefferson Parish assessor Lawrence Chehardy was also invited, but ultimately was unable to attend due to a pre-scheduled meeting.

At issue was the governor’s race which has received increased interest due to the US Senator’s announcement   Now that he has made the decision to run for the state’s most powerful political office, the focus is not only why would he want to leave Washington DC, but whether he can shed off his reputation with the “V” word. 

Below is the text of the interview.  Due to poor weather conditions and bandwidth deficiencies, the hangout’s audio, particularly that of Jeff Crouere, was impacted.   As a result, Crouere’s participation was somewhat limited.   

Here is an approximate transcription of the video interview.  Please watch the video for the more accurate discussion of Part I of a two part series on David Vitter’s recent blockbuster announcement:

SABLUDOWSKY: okay hi we are live

SABLUDOWSKY: and I'm Steve Sabludowsky and within be talking about the Louisiana politics with  Jeff Crouere and Jim Brown we're waiting for Lawrence Chehardy and hopefully he'll be able to make it he had a meeting had to go to.

SABLUDOWSKY: Welcome Jim and Jeff I know that you guys are on muted right now ask a question this one to Jim Brown

SABLUDOWSKY: Jim we have some incredible news I guess not that we did not expected that is David Vitter has decided to run for governor and I'm just wondering what's going on do you think he has a chance he's leading right now according to the polls but you think that he's going to continue with that and it was your overall gut feeling about all this

JIM BROWN [00:01:02]The Vitter announcement was no surprise there have been rumors going around for months that he was looking at it.  A lot of people said "why would he give up the United States Senate seat to come back to Louisiana and get into the intricacies and details and the controversies that will just eat you alive on a local level"--and I think he thrives on that if you look to see the legislature, I think the happiest time  David Vitter ever had was when he was in the Louisiana legislature taking on Edward Edwards and taking on whomever the governor was and taking on the whole power structure so I'm not surprised that he ran that he is running, number one, to tell you. 

JIM BROWN [00:01:37]Second of all, you know it is still an uphill fight for the Republicans to take over the U.S. Senate--so Vitter,  because of his seniority and a variety of thing, she's not a major high level Republican in Congress and Washington and he's in the minority party and so friends have told me that Washington is what the loneliest place that you can be right now and nobody is friends unless your within your group.  

JIM BROWN [00:02:08]I don't think his and his wife are happy in Washington.  So he's looking at taking a look coming back home and I agree he is the favorite and there's a lot of unanswered questions about David Vitter, you either like him or you don’t like him and there is a lot of people who he has crossed or who is mad at him and is a question of what type of coalescing he can do

JIM BROWN [00:02:28]Steve, politics, has a short lifespan, your enemy today is your friend tomorrow and so Vitter is the leading candidate I think he is going to stay that way for a while but I think he’s got  not some healing to do amongst a number of people that he has stepped on and if he can't do some healing there's going to be a good opportunity for a Jay Dardenne, a John Kennedy, possibly Democrat to say look-- all this confrontation will rip the state apart we've got to bring it all together so...yes he's the leading candidate, we can well be elected, but he is a long way to go in the healing process and I don't know if he's got it in him or not and that's the unanswered question

JIM BROWN [00:03:07]okay Jeff, John Kennedy is an interesting fellow. Kennedy is the state treasurer, he was, he worked in Gov. Buddy Roemer's administration where he first emerged, ran the Department of Revenue, apparently did so in very high caliber fashion, easily elected to the `office that he holds right now, Treasurer--been there three or four terms has $3 million in the bank and has been the most vocal advocate of taking on Gov. Bobby Jindal than any official in the state and made a lot of friends in doing so and I think the prognosticators, like myself to go to what North Louisiana, Moon Griffon, you go down to New Orleans you've got people like Jeff, I think that most of those of us who watch closely, are highly impressed with John Kennedy. 

JEFF CROUERE [00:04:03]Let me just say this, I guess you talking about the whole thing Vitter two observations I would just like to share, one is, I think that a lot of people are jumping the gun and saying that the race is over and that other people going lay down (noise interference) and for Jon Bel Edwards and some other people to jump in and so I don't think it’s going to be a coronation for Vitter

JIM BROWN [00:04:40](inaudible) don't think that Jay Dardenne is going to back away and if Vitter gets elected then possibly (inaudible) some from North Louisiana and some are thinking that maybe Bobby Jindal and David Vitter and Bobby Jindal will  switch seats. 

SABLUDOWSKY [00:05:02]I just want to mention that apparently we have the bandwidth issue coming from Jeff I think it is due to the weather we've had some really horrible weather down here especially where Jeff lives--in the boondocks,  Mandeville, so Jim my question is-- you've heard much of what Jeff said, and so my question is-- do you think that this deal going on between say Bobby Jindal and David Vitter? 

JIM BROWN [00:05:42]I don't believe so.  There has been a lot of animosity between those two major political figures, the two major Republican figures in the state, Vitter has had no qualms about taking on Jindal, about supporting his own group of legislators, more conservative group of legislators, tea party types, and they've gotten right into the Governor's face so I don't think there's any love lost between the two of them having said, politics makes strange bedfellows and it may be in each of their interests to put back their act together;  On the other hand if Vitter wants to be vindictive you might see him even, you might even see more some discussion and let me tell you something--you've got to be very very careful that,  if you look at what's happening on the national scene up in New Jersey and Virginia now for a statewide candidate to call David Vitter and say look, I will support you but if you win I want you to support me for your seat in the U.S. Senate tit-for-tat that would be in violation of federal law and probably state law

JIM BROWN [00:06:47] so there's some delicacies here in terms of who makes the decision;  You might see a guy like John Kennedy end up supporting David Vitter quite aggressively, feeling that if he does then maybe Vitter  will appoint him in the U.S. Senate seat, so the dynamics of this thing and you're talking about someone who is went through a Gov.'s race in 1987 with Edwin Edwards, Buddy Roemer, Bob Livingston, Billy Tauzin and I can tell you games (inaudible) that the that you have today can easily change;  there were discussions between all of us as far as who stayed in and who stayed out so the nuances of this thing as Jeff has pointed out this race is far from over and has a long long way to go; there clearly will be discussions between Bobby Jindal and David Vitter and David Vitter and John Kennedy and all other candidates will do this; I did this when I ran with all the (inaudible) against Edward Edwards the whole group that we ran in '87, so how this whole thing shakes out will be fascinating for all of us to watch but as Jeff says and he is right (inaudible) this race is far from over 

SABLUDOWSKY [00:07:58] Jeff, Jim mentioned about the vindictiveness of David Vitter and I wrote about that actually the other day and I'm just wondering if is that going, is that going to play out I know that we all have talked about it, I'm just wondering if that's going to be play out

JEFF CROUERE [00:08:29]Steve would you repeat the question for me one more time.  

SABLUDOWSKY: Okay, my question is this--Jim Brown mentioned about David Vitter being vindictive and so my question is, and I wrote about that and I think he's the most vindictive politician, Louisiana politician that I know.  So I think that many of us have talked and written about this.. do you think it is going to play out, i mean, is he really liked enough to run against a powerful  Republican such as...and to win,  against Jay Dardenne and...

CROUERE [00:09:04]Let me say this, he's extremely vindictive, I mean I know from personal experience that he's vindictive and that is something that the average doesn't know but that those within political circles know that;  I think.. you know, he's been able to exert the kind of power because of his position that he has but now that he's going for governor, you know, maybe some who's been sort of abused by him in the past--I don't think there's going to be folks who will be  lining up to support him.  I think he's made a lot of enemies over the years in Louisiana politics and those folks are going to find a candidate to support..it's not going to be David Vitter.

SABLUDOWSKY[00:09:44]That's really interesting, I mean it really is,  a mean, you're a, politically speaking, you're probably have more akin to David Vitter, than any other other candidates who have announced and you're a strong tea party person and David Vitter needs the Tea Party crowd like he got, you know, during the last election, when he ran, when he beat the Democrat.

JEFF CROUERE [00:10:15]I think John Kennedy is (inaudible), Chris John and Charlie Melancon  are the two he beat, but I think that John Kennedy is someone who has reform oriented, he's got a lot of good ideas, I think he would love to be governor, but I don't see think he sees a road to be governor with Vitter.  I know Jay Dardenne has a lot of support within the Republican circles but Vitter is more conservative but some of those folks who might be ideologically in tune with Vitter might be more likely to support Dardenne or someone else just because of the icy relationship that he's got some people.  So that's why I'm saying I don't think going have a coronation. I think there too many people who would not like to see him governor. 

DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH THE DISCUSSION.  TELL US BELOW

Stephen Sabludowsky

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