Wednesday, 09 March 2011 16:11

Louisiana Buddy Roemer: Rubber Bands To The Presidency?

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Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer has announced he is running for President.  Of what, you ask?  Of the United States, of course.


Now don’t dismiss his candidacy.  Two and a half years ago the American people elected a candidate with little government experience to our nation’s highest office.  Barack Obama was a state senator and a freshman U.S. Senator.  Buddy Roemer served in Congress and one term as Louisiana’s “reform” governor.  So much for experience and qualifications.


In case you are wondering who Buddy Roemer is, let me refresh your memory.  In 1987, a little known North Louisiana Congressman, a Democrat, Buddy Roemer, ran for governor.  His competition was incumbent Edwin Edwards (D) and Congressman Bob Livingston (R) among others.  The commonly accepted scenario placed Edwards and Livingston in a run-off. 


But three weeks or so before the primary, Buddy Roemer began climbing in the polls.  I watched those poll numbers, and it became obvious with little more than a week to go that Buddy Roemer would make the run-off.  And that is exactly what happened.  Roemer ran first, and Edwards ran second.  Then, in a brilliant political move and the first volley of the 1991 election, Edwin Edwards withdrew from the run-off electing Buddy Roemer Louisiana’s newest Governor.  More importantly, by withdrawing, Edwards denied Roemer a coalition to build his administration around.  Instead, Roemer became Governor with just 33.17% of the vote, less than one third of the votes cast.  This was anything but a message for change or a mandate to lead.


Promised reforms by the Roemer administration included “fiscal reform,” a nice sounding phrase for higher taxes and a shifting of the tax burden away from industry and big business to homeowners, small businesses, and individual taxpayers.  The “reform” plan failed in the legislature and a modified, scaled down plan proposed several months later was defeated by voters.  That was the beginning of the end of the “Roemer Revolution.”


Buddy Roemer is fondly remembered for wearing a rubber band as a way to cancel negative thoughts by popping the rubber band on his wrist.  The media had a great time with this escapade that made the Roemer administration look out of touch, somewhere out in space, and just plain weird.


In 1991, Gov. Roemer, now a Republican, failed to rally his own political party or to make the run-off for reelection.  Edwin Edwards made that runoff defeating David Duke to become governor for the fourth time.


Now, what about the Roemer Presidential ambition?


No one will know the issues better than Buddy Roemer.  No one will be a better public speaker than Buddy Roemer.  He is smart and politically savvy.  He will tap in to the public unrest with Washington.  He has a knack for telling voters what they may not want to hear, but he will also have a way of making it sound good.  His theme will be “Free to Lead.” 


The Roemer Revolution did not make him close to the members of the Louisiana Legislature, and given his style he is not likely to endear himself to Washington insiders either.  Many voters will like this about Roemer.  But a President Roemer will have to work with Congress to get anything accomplished.  And, given Roemer’s history as governor, this will be difficult to do.


Buddy Roemer has promised to raise his campaign funds by not accepting individual contributions larger than $100.00.  As silly as this sounds, in this day of the internet, raising campaign funds in this nontraditional way is so much easier.  But it will take one million clicks on his web site at $100.00 a click to raise one hundred million dollars.  Barack Obama raised a massive amount of campaign funds from the internet as did other candidates in the 2008 presidential election.  Now it’s Buddy Roemer’s turn to try his hand at internet fundraising.


So it is off to Iowa and a campaign that many say is doomed from the start.  Just remember a little known, little experienced candidate named Barack Obama.  Excuse me, President Barack Obama.

About Lawrence Chehardy

For thirty-four years Lawrence Chehardy served as Assessor of Jefferson Parish and throughout his career has been a champion the maintenance of the Homestead Exemption.  During his years as Assessor Lawrence Chehardy served as President, Vice-president, and Treasure of the Louisiana Assessors’ Association. He also served on numerous boards and committees of the association. 

Chehardy has extensive knowledge of politics, political campaigning, and the political process. When it comes to political strategy and creating the campaign’s message, Lawrence is one of the best. Lawrence Chehardy has been instrumental in the election of numerous candidates through endorsements as well as campaign strategy. In many cases his endorsement turned the election in favor of those candidates.

In addition to his political commentary and public speaking engagements, Lawrence Chehardy is a founding member of the Chehardy, Sherman, Ellis, Murray, Recile, Griffith, Stakelum & Hayes Law Firm and serves as its managing partner.

By Lawrence Chehardy

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