For the last month, Breaux has nurtured a masterful campaign to keep his name at the forefront of Louisiana political chatter. He consulted with supporters and played footsies with reporters at a quasi-press conference in Lake Charles, talking about campaign-slogan bumper stickers and telling reporter John Hill, "I think I made it clear that I am planning to run for governor." Following that less-than-declarative statement, Breaux retreated to his modus operandi of vanishing out of sight and coyly implying that an opinion from Foti on his eligibility to run would be the last hurdle before he began his campaign in earnest. When Foti finally punted last week and declined to offer a definitive opinion, Breaux played the part of the noble and gallant soul who only wants what's best for the state of Louisiana.
"For me to run now," he claimed in his statement last Friday, "means that we would face a campaign based on an eligibility to run, with the prospects of being in a courtroom only weeks before the elections. The election must not be an old style campaign of political destruction, but a debate on who has the best ideas ..."
This suggests that if Foti had given him the favorable opinion he was hoping for, there would have been no Republican lawsuits filed against his eligibility. Does Breaux really think the people of Louisiana are naive enough to believe that?
As Foti observed in his response, it is well documented in Louisiana judicial opinion that courts favor allowing a candidate to run, leaving it to voters to decide if the candidate is qualified. Breaux knew this long before Foti's ruling and said as much to various media outlets. So what did Foti's ruling change? Breaux knew that regardless of Foti's opinion, the state Republican Party was going to go all-out in its legal challenge to his candidacy ' and there was also a very good chance that the courts would have ruled in his favor, given the Louisiana Constitution's failure to define citizenship.
What made Breaux change his mind? Chances are Breaux decided he just didn't have the stomach or stamina to wage what promised to be an epic, hard-fought campaign for governor. That hardly sounds like the kind of leader Louisiana needs as it continues rebuilding after 2005's devastating hurricanes.
Most embarrassing for the state Democratic Party and Breaux's biggest supporters, all the warning signs were there. Breaux staged this same performance while he was still a U.S. senator, running around the state and holding high-profile public and private meetings and giving every indication he'd become a candidate for governor, only to pull out as enthusiasm and momentum had reached a fever pitch.
This time, the political stakes were much, much higher. Would Gov. Kathleen Blanco still have pulled out of the race if Breaux wasn't waiting in the wings and telling people he was interested in the job? Probably, but one thing is clear: Breaux, the supposed savior and white knight for the Louisiana Democratic Party, has now made it that much more difficult for other potential Democratic candidates to run. They'll have less time to raise campaign funds and will have to overcome perceptions of being the Democrats' second choices and token candidates.
Those possible candidates know it, too. Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, considered one of the top choices, announced Monday that he wouldn't join the fray.
Fellow Democrat Foti's re-election just got that much tougher, too. Foti already faces an uphill battle after accusing a doctor and two nurses of homicide at Memorial Medical Center during post-Katrina conditions. Prominent Democratic supporters such as Lafayette attorney Glenn Armentor firmly believe that Foti clearly had the law on his side to issue a favorable ruling for Breaux. Now that Foti passed the Breaux hot potato and faces the perception that he derailed Breaux's candidacy, it's hard to imagine he'll generate much enthusiasm from Democrats.
It's the voters who stand to lose the most after Breaux's waffling and Foti's timidity. We need the best elected leadership possible, and there is no process that better tests the qualifications for the state's highest office than the gauntlet of a challenging election campaign. With Breaux's exit, there's a decreasing chance that 35-year-old U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal and his ideas will be put to much of a test. The Louisiana Republican Party has endorsed Jindal to the dismay of fellow Republican challengers Walter Boasso and John Georges, while north Louisiana Democrat Foster Campbell is running on a tax-the-oil-companies stance that's failed to generate much enthusiasm in the past.
Campaigns without meaningful debate and dialogue can sometimes have lasting, unfortunate consequences. Consider the case study of Buddy Roemer, a bright young Republican congressman with lots of great ideas. Roemer made the 1987 runoff against incumbent Edwin Edwards, but in the end voters never saw him under the fire of a one-on-one competition because Democrat Edwards dropped out of the race. The following four years of the Roemer administration were largely a disaster.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday, March 06, 2014:
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.
A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 from I-49 in Lafayette to Seigen Lane in Baton Rouge.
Jim Bernhard, who engineered the sale of The Shaw Group for $3 billion, recently has told several people involved in Democratic politics that he intends to run for governor in 2015.
A New Orleans levee board wants to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for decades of damage to our state’s coastline, but the Legislature may be poised to put the kibosh on the suit.
New standards curb elective induction
CVS stops tobacco sales
If an Acadia Parish fiddler misses a note while swatting a fly, will a St. Martinville accordionist learn “Ma ‘Tite Fille”?
(It's good, it's bad and it's just crazy)
Can state lawmakers find the nerve — and the votes — to neuter payday lenders?
A calm demeanor has served Gerald Boudreaux well — in his career, passion for sports and in life. And it could be just what his district needs in the state Senate.
Acadiana Catholics* react to Francis
The circumstances surrounding the Jan. 26 fire of the 18,000-square-foot home on Verot School Road seemed strange, but what's even more bizarre is the back-story behind owner Ralph Wadleigh.
Choice cuts from Acadiana's news media for Friday, Feb. 28, 2014: