Iowa scored the presidential Super Bowl by being the first state out of the box. The Washington Post reported that “Iowa matters. It is the first test, coming after almost a full year of campaigning, polling, punditry and the like.” And with all the campaigning, Iowa was the center of political attention for the past six months. Who’s leading in Iowa? What do Iowans think about the country’s direction? What’s the make up of Iowa? There was media coverage ad infinitum about a small Midwestern state best known to most of us for growing corn.
Right now, Louisiana’s presidential primary is set for March 8th, a week after Super Tuesday when the nominees could well be decided. But what an opportunity missed. Louisiana could have held the nation’s first presidential primary at the same time as the recent gubernatorial election. No other state holds an election so close to the presidential primary season. So the Bayou State could have garnered all this same national attention and financial benefits, and for no additional cost since state elections were already taking place.
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Just imagine the national media coverage and the excitement of Donald Trump dropping in a Hammond’s Hi-Ho barbeque restaurant to meet with the locals. Or how about Hillary Clinton venturing up to Rapides Parish for a ham sandwich at Lea’s Lunchroom in LaCount? (She probably ought to pass on the famous coconut or chocolate pies.) Senator Ted Cruz is from Texas, and would no doubt be partial to Cou-yon’s Barbecue in Port Allen. A stop in Crowley for Marco Rubio would require a visit with B.I. Moody as he holds court each Saturday morning with the regulars at the Rice Palace Café.
And if any of the other candidates feel the necessity to actually go to Iowa, well no big deal. They will be heartily welcomed in Iowa, Louisiana, by Mayor Carol Ponthieux. (Pronounced “poncho” for all you Yankees and Rednecks.) The Mayor, who puts her home phone number on the town website, will treat any of the presidential candidates to coffee and beignets at Lil Red’s.
Just how much did Louisiana lose by failing to hold the first in the nation presidential primary? The candidates campaigning in the state of Iowa spend over $100 million. Media outlets, consultants and campaign volunteers ran up a similar amount over the past year. Economists often quote the “economic turnover effect” of dollars spent in a local or state economy as anywhere from six to seven times. So $200 million dropped into the Louisiana economy that turns over a number of times is certainly no small change.
So why wasn’t there an effort made to hold a presidential primary at the same time as the gubernatorial election in Louisiana this past November? Governor Bobby Jindal quickly scuttled any initial interest in such a novel idea because of his delusional campaign for president. His own campaign was sinking fast, and he did not want to be embarrassed by a certain poor showing in his home state. And legislators at the time didn’t have the gumption to take on the good fight for a cause that would have brought bountiful publicity and huge financial rewards.
Louisiana will be merely a footnote when the campaign comes to an end. Once again, a lack of vision and commitment will cause the Bayou State to be irrelevant in deciding who will lead the country. But, at least, you can go to Iowa. That is, Iowa, Louisiana. It’s one of the last stops traveling I-10 on your way to Texas. But don’t expect to see anyone there campaigning for president.
So it’s perhaps a sign of how dire the situation is in Louisiana that Jindal’s budget was missing $3.5 million for presidential primaries, and nobody raised a fuss.
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 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.