Wednesday, 10 November 2010 19:58

Fayard Fares Best Shot For Louisiana Dejected Democrats

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After his election last Tuesday, new U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond will join U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu as the only two Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation. On the statewide level, only Attorney General Buddy Caldwell is a Democrat. Just a few years ago, Democrats held a majority of the statewide offices in Louisiana. With the state moving in a conservative direction, Republicans have set their next target: the Louisiana Legislature. With statewide elections set for next year, Republicans will have a chance to claim a majority of legislative seats for the first time since Reconstruction. While the Republicans face a significant hurdle on the Senate side, the Democrats hold only a tiny one seat majority in the House.



It is looking bleak for the Louisiana Democratic Party; however, there is a bright spot or two. Along with Richmond’s convincing victory, Lt. Governor candidate Caroline Fayard performed well despite losing her race. She received 43 percent of the vote against a well-respected statewide elected official, Jay Dardenne, who had built significant name recognition. Fayard received more votes than U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Melancon and ran a much better media campaign.


Fayard was practically unknown before the race started, but she made it competitive by spending plenty of her family’s money and receiving a huge influx of cash from the Louisiana Democratic Party. Fayard collected $750,000 from the state party, which likely received much of that money from the Fayard family. In contrast, Dardenne received no assistance from the Louisiana Republican Party. While Fayard was endorsed by leading Louisiana Democrats, Dardenne was not endorsed by Governor Bobby Jindal.


As a total newcomer, Fayard impressed many voters as a “fresh face,” but most thought the young attorney was not experienced enough to be elected to a statewide position. Fayard was also hurt by the problem that all Democrats confronted this year, an unpopular President. While the economy was the major concern, voters in Louisiana were also upset with the President because of the oil moratorium and the administration’s slow response to the Gulf oil spill. The overall national political environment was too great a hurdle for Fayard to overcome.


Looking toward statewide elections in 2011, Fayard is one of the few stars in a decimated Louisiana Democratic Party. To win in Louisiana, a Democrat needs monolithic support from the African American community, along with one-third of the white vote. Fayard may be one of the few Louisiana Democrats who can put that type of coalition together.


Her race for Lt. Governor is a good start for her political career. In Louisiana, a loss is not necessarily a bad thing for a politician’s career.. Statewide elected officials such as John Kennedy, Jim Donelon, Mary Landrieu and Bobby Jindal all lost statewide races before winning major elections. Fayard has a chance to follow in those footsteps, but only if she positions herself as a moderate to conservative Democrat who is anti-tax, pro-life and pro-gun. It will be interesting to see her next move in the crazy world of Louisiana politics, but I would not be surprised to see her run for statewide office next year.

Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at E-mail him at [email protected].



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