Thursday, 17 May 2018 15:01

Why Louisiana Governor Edwards has difficulty with a Republican-controlled legislature?

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edwards alarm smallWhy is Governor John Bel Edwards having so many problems with the Louisiana legislature? Is he simply a weak administrator who--for one reason or not--cannot get the Republican dominated legislative bodies to support his agenda?  Or is he a strong governor who simply faces a recalcitrant republican-controlled legislature and GOP-based business community, who are using their political clout to limit his power for political purposes? Or, are there some other reasons?

Yesterday, Jim Brown and I discussed these issues with one of the political observers who has been around the capitol for years. Sue Lincoln, has covered the legislature for a statewide radio station and is now doing so for the Bayou Brief website.

In part one of the interview, Lincoln described the difficulties Edwards has encountered with the Republican-dominated House of Representatives and and how it now appears the Senate might be standing up to that more political legislative body.  In part two, Brown and I joined Lincoln in discussing the political realities and some of the obstacles the governor of the Democratic Party blue is encountering in sea of Republican-powered red populace and legislature. Ms. Lincoln also talked about the untapped political resource that is available for any candidate for office.

Below is the transcript of part 1 and the video of the entire interview. This segment began roughly at the 8:08 mark on the video and ended at the 17:02 point on the video.

SABLUDOWSKY: So let me let me jump in and say it always asked this question and that is--could it be that you know there aren't projects like you said, that he can use a strong-arm about because we don't have the money but something else is true and that is what about three years ago we need first became governor the house won its independence, and so as a result, he doesn't have the kind of control over the house over the seats that say Bobby Jindal had, that all other governors had and so consequently--if you don't have control over the the seats if you don't have the committees, then I mean basically, he's being defanged?

LINCOLN: In many ways yes, I mean the reality is that Cameron Henry wanted to be House Speaker and found out shortly before the inauguration that he didn't have the votes, that he had ticked just a few too many people of, and so they came up with Taylor Barras as someone who is inoffensive, who didn't have a--he didn't have a lot of bills to his credit that were controversial in any way, he was just a nice man, that they could put in power and the marionette strings could be controlled by Cameron, could be controlled by the Republican, and nobody would try to get rid of him because he was a nice guy. And that's kind of where we stand right now.  We have a, we have de-facto speakers Cameron, who stays very much behind the scenes except when it comes to appropriations, Lance Harris who is the upfront face of it and who is generally considered to be the enforcer of the Republican Party, by members both black white Democrat and Republican.

BROWN: Well I'd like to go back to see if you can to Edwards though-- that we are either concluding that he's a real weak sister who doesn't have the ability to govern and is probably if that's the case a one-termer, or should he be exerting himself a little bit more--I think you've summed up very well sue in terms of the perspective, I mean the governor, I know there's been some limitations but the governor still has great deal of control over a number of state agencies that deal in all these districts he's got huge appointment of power where he appoints key people living in Senate and representative districts, who those legislators want to be appointed.  There there's a still a great deal of power there but the governor has not exercised number one, and Sue number two, I wonder what you think about the governor's outreach.  Has he gotten out around the state and building consensus?  One way you get to legislatures is to in effect go over their heads. The 'ol Ronald Reagan scenario, and to some degree Donald Trump.  Donald Trump is pretty much gone over the heads of legislatures and we've seen some governor's in the past.  Edwin Edwards, the very best there was at going over the heads of legislators and building consensus around the state.  Do you see much activity in the part of the governor getting out and telling people in Monroe and Houma and Lake Charles--that look--"I need you to get a hold of those legislators, puts the pressure on them . I'm fighting the good fight, I'm not getting help".  You see him doing that or is that a weakness in terms of his armor?

LINCOLN: No I actually see him doing that, but what we've had over, the last I would say 12, 13 possibly as long as 14 years --is a move of the business community,, more to the Republican line of thinking because the Republican Party was more conducive to their preferred policies and because of that it you know when the previous governor Edwards was governor this was mostly a Democrat state, democratic state.  Almost everybody was registered as Democrat.  There were a few Republicans but they had no real clout.  It has switched to a more balanced, if you will political partisanship--there's still more registered Democrats than there are Republicans and independents, other as they're registered are moving up so that it fairly close to a third a third and a third, where governor Edwards has to sway people are those independents who aren't willing to be aligned with some of the harsher policies of the Republican Party, who aren't willing to be completely aligned with some of the more liberal policies of the Democratic Party, who can be switched.  

LINCOLN: The other group that he can appeal to and I've noticed this is a lack in every candidate not just governor Edwards but every candidate for every office--is appealing to the women.  We have never felt like women were a stable enough voting block-- they're 54% of the registered voters in Louisiana and if you can find a way to message to the women that you are on their side and fighting for them and to communicate with them effectively, because there's two different forms of communication--men communicate with each other a certain way, straight line---women communicate with each other more holistically.  If you can find a way to communicate to the women that you are their candidate, you have an untapped voting bloc that can do a lot.  A lot of times we assume that wives vote as their husband tell them to here in this state, but the voting booth is still very private and which buttons they push can't be seen by their husbands, that is often some often their one streak of Independence is how they actually vote and it's one of those things that I think has been sorely lacking in the political discussions, in the political campaign that we've seen run here in Louisiana.  Nobody is tapping into that voting bloc and that is where governor Edwards has tried to make inroads with his advocacy for equal pay, his advocacy for raising minimum wage.  It's not getting the traction in the legislature so the option is to vote those lawmakers out that aren't playing that game.  And it's a bigger picture than just Governor John Bel Edwards versus the republican-controlled legislature at this point.


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