Jim Brown is a Louisiana legislator, Secretary of State and Insurance Commissioner.
Almost overnight, the approval of the Keystone pipeline has become a key issue in Louisiana’s cantankerous senatorial runoff campaign. Incumbent Mary Landrieu is leading the charge in the U.S. Senate, while challenger Dr. Bill Cassidy is trying to one up Landrieu by being the Keystone champion in the House of Representatives. So two questions. Where have both of these candidates been with such an important issue all these many months? And is building the pipeline the huge job creator and economic bonanza that both candidates say it is?
Remember the days when candidates for U.S Senator or Governor would speak to thousands of supporters at weekend rallies all over Louisiana? Huey Long was the master, mainly because he promised he’d give voters just about anything they wanted. A long line of colorful politicians followed in Huey’s wake. But those days seem to be long gone and forgotten.
Voters sent a strong message on election night that congress needs to work across party lines and begin to get things done. No more gridlock. After all, the popularity of members of congress is at an all time low. Less than 10% of Americans think congress is doing a good job. Herpes and the chicken pox have a higher favorability rating.
,To many electoral observers across the country, Louisiana is the center of the political universe. Nowhere is there such a concentration of political interest – right? Wasn’t it a Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives who said if you want to get a graduate degree on successful politics, go down to Louisiana? And who can forget former Governor Earl Long’s final wish on his deathbed: “Or Lord, when I die, bury me in Louisiana so I can stay active in politics.” There’s more interest and participation in political campaigns in Louisiana than in any other place in the country. Or is there?
Election Day for the congressional and local elections is right around the corner. In fact, a Louisiana voter can absentee vote right now. The Secretary of State’s office predicts some 45 to 50 percent of registered voters will actually show up and vote. Having run that office for a number of years and predicting voter turnout through the 1980s, I predict closer to a 60 percent turnout. Current Secretary of State Tom Schedler and I have a lunch wager on whose prediction will be more accurate.
During the last few days of our family vacation, we ended up in Boston. The newspaper headlines were startling. “Boston Could Become the Next Venice,” warned the Boston Globe. “Boston Sinking into The Sea,” blared the New York Times. A newly released report by the Urban Land Institute predicted that “Boston is sinking at a rate of more than a tenth of an inch a year.” The Governor of Massachusetts has set up a statewide strategy commission and earmarked $50 million out find out how to save the city from drowning. There’s panic in Boston.
One of the biggest priorities facing Louisiana’s next governor is the challenge of re-instilling pride in the attitudes of many Louisianans. Government can only do so much. But a governor can be a catalyst in raising the public’s expectations.
Here we go again. Another prolonged military campaign in the Middle East. Is the President justified in waging a new war that will emanate in Syria, but raises numerous questions as to where it all will end? Louisiana congressional members have been oddly silent on the President’s new counter terrorism assault. The Bayou State has no representation on the key congressional national defense committees.
by Jim Brown
Is the Ferguson, Missouri community unique in its inability to deal with a troubling death with still unanswered questions? Of course not. Ferguson is any town when reason disintegrates into the chaos of aggressive confrontation.
Louisiana United States Senator Mary Landrieu has always been a survivor in Bayou State politics. She’s been successful in four races for the U.S. Senate, but the elections have always been close, and until now, her opponents have never had the full weight of the national republican campaign apparatus behind them. But this time it’s different. Landrieu is in the political fight of her life. She’s under an all-out assault by republican organizations all over the country.