1. What are the major issues in the legislative session so far? Do you see any particular trends in the legislature that you might consider to be worth noting or even unusual?
Speaking of trends, K thru 12 education reform continues to dominate our legislative sessions. This session is no different as legislators continue their efforts to legislate better grades in our public school classrooms. Legislative efforts attempting to reform grades K thru 12 in Louisiana started in earnest during the late seventies and continues unrelenting today. How much progress have we made since 1977? According to a LABI Publication on the subject of education reforms, Louisiana was ahead of the nation in enacting education reform laws and policies from 1977 thru 1986. Anyone care to guess the title of this publication: “A Long Journey To Nowhere!”
Legislation that would kill lawsuits filed by Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority are generating lots of energy inside and outside of the capitol. I seriously doubt many are paying attention. Coverage of this issue by media types is amusing as news articles continue the gross exaggeration of the clout of big bad oil and gas companies in the state capitol. Big oil and gas has always relied on the influence of LABI to pass or kill legislation. LABI’s lobbyist did most of the heavy lifting to pass this legislation in the senate last week. Legislators are acutely aware this legislation will show up on LABI’s annual scorecard. It is possible LABI could double weight this vote. This annual scorecard rates them as pro-business or anti-business. Running for reelection after receiving a failing grade from LABI can be fatal to most legislators’ reelections, especially in red state Louisiana. John Barry and his trial lawyer friends are funding efforts to kill this legislation and keep their lawsuit alive. On the other side of the street - LABI’s Stephen Waguespack and the Board of Directors are pushing tort reform as one of its major initiatives this session. I am betting on LABI’s Waguespack and their thousands of small business members to win most of these tort reform battles. Most of these legislators are counting on LABI’s endorsement for reelection not John Barry’s trial lawyers. Louisiana is not a trial lawyer friendly state!
2. It is said that Governor Jindal is not involved in the legislative session and that decisions are being made by lower-level officials. Do you agree or disagree with this assessment and please explain.
Totally disagree – this is silly. Governor Jindal is actively campaigning to become the Republican nominee for President. Jindal is not going to allow some lower level employee to embarrass him. It would be a recipe for disaster to run for anything and allow your current employees to leave you out of decisions. New Jersey Governor Christie comes to mind! Jindal is doing today what he has done since he became Governor – control any- and everything!
To many, it has become very clear that Governor Jindal is running for President and that he is finally acknowledging what he, for years, has been negating. Assuming that he does continue to spend even more time outside of the state than ever and continues to focus his efforts upon national issues while being detached from local matters, could this help him or hurt him nationally? Locally?
Being out of Louisiana campaigning for President will help Governor Jindal in his efforts to win the Republican nomination for President. He cannot accomplish this from inside the governor’s mansion. Out of state travel will certainly alienate some Louisiana voters. His challenges will include keeping voters back home reasonably happy. Since Jindal is not running for reelection, criticism of his out of state travel will be like water off a duck’s back. Lots of states have sitting governors running for President - it does not mean these governors are irresponsible. Governor Jindal is way past caring about what his critics back home think of his out of state travels. Jindal is now entering the last stages of his term as Governor – I seriously doubt he can improve his popularity with about half the voters. Choosing to get deeply involved in national politics meant Jindal’s popularity was headed to fifty percent range.With no black support, it is tough to get into a popularity range of sixty percent as Governor of Louisiana.
It appears that due to a massive amount of money being spent by special interest groups to defeat Mary Landrieu, her favorables might be dropping and her unfavorables climbing. The recent Grigsby poll has her favorables at 41%. You have said in the past that she is in serious trouble. Do you think her new chairperson seat of the Senate energy committee could help her or do you feel that this matters little to the average voter?
The results of every survey published to date say the exact same thing; incumbent US Senator Mary Landrieu has only forty percent voting for her reelection. Senator Mary Landrieu receives the identical support from Louisiana voters that President Barack Obama receives. This fact ought to put her reelection outlook into perspective! Landrieu is as popular in Louisiana as President Barack Obama. Landrieu’s seniority in recent surveys was not important enough to cause fifty-plus percent to want her reelected. Louisiana is an energy state and you can expect Senator Landrieu to use this chairmanship in her reelection campaign. The big question remains – will chairman of energy overcome her vote for ObamaCare?
In an amazing turn of events since 2007, Senator Vitter appears to have the best favorables of any elected official in the state. Yet, Mitch Landrieu is in a statistical tie with the Senator in a one-on-one race. Landrieu has not expressed interested in running; in fact, he said he was not going to run for Governor. Then again, he said six years ago that he was not going to run for New Orleans Mayor. Assuming he does decide to run for Governor, what do you believe could be his greatest obstacles? His best assets in a race against Vitter?
Mitch Landrieu is the strongest Democratic candidate for Governor. I expect Mitch Landrieu to run for Governor. I cannot think of a reason that would stop him. Raising twelve million is a bigger problem than keeping a promise. Senator David Vitter remains very popular with most white voters. Senator Vitter’s support among white voters is enough to put him ahead of his potential Republican rivals. As of today, Vitter is the clear favorite, unless another Republican raises lots of money and displays stronger poll numbers – Vitter is in the runoff. What is Mitch’s biggest asset in a race against David Vitter for Governor? Mitch can count of thirty-four percent of all voters the day he qualifies. No other candidate for governor starts out with a solid thirty-four percent of all voters. The next sixteen-point-one percent Landrieu needs to win is very difficult.