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.
Authorities are investigating a report that a student there warned the principal of impending violence similar to that depicted in the movie "The Purge."
Saints cornerback Champ Bailey has played for more than a handful of playoff teams during a career that has seen him selected to 12 Pro Bowls.
Police say a 56-year-old Lafayette man walking behind a dump truck died when the truck hit him as it was backing up.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Fifa under fire for fake turf plans; freed journalist back home; corporate conversions rising and more national and international news for Wednesday, August 27, 2014.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a proud papa of new baby girl.
The books on Louisiana's last budget year have been closed, but it took a bit of borrowing from this year to make the numbers work.
The Iberia Parish Coroner responded Monday to the attention surrounding the questionable shooting of Victor White III, a black man from New Iberia who died April 2 while in the custody of local law enforcement.
Two months after lawmakers agreed to create a $40 million higher education incentive fund, no decisions have been made about how to divide the money.
With Drew Brees back healthy, the New Orleans Saints are free to work on the little things that can make the difference between a Super Bowl run and something less.
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and her lead GOP challenger Congressman Bill Cassidy are running close when it comes to money. Landrieu has $5.5 million to Cassidy’s $5.6 million in the bank.
With expectations mounting that Gov. Bobby Jindal will soon announce his campaign for president, attention is turning to not only who he will bring along with him but also what will transpire politically back home during the transition.
Seven of the 11 U.S. cities in a new ranking of “most dangerous diets” are in the Bayou and Lone Star states, but the ranking is more about poverty than fried oysters.
Lafayette police are investigating a fatal shooting involving an alleged burglar and homeowner.
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham got the message from the NFL. He's not dunking footballs over goal posts any more.
With qualifying over, the start of campaign season is official, and for the Lafayette Parish School Board, the race toward Nov. 4 will pit 20 candidates in battles for all 9 of the district’s available seats.
An abortion rights organization has filed the first court challenge to a Louisiana law that would require doctors who perform abortions to be able to admit patients to a nearby hospital.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister started his sign-up for re-election Friday the same as any other candidate, filling out paperwork and handing over cash to pay his qualifying fee. But he finished it quite differently, doused with ice.
The recent release of Victor White III’s autopsy report could spell trouble, as it tells a much different story of his death than the one told five months ago by the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“Candidates for Congress and members of Congress spend between 30 and 70 percent of their time raising money to get back to Congress or to get their party back into power.”
Over the last four days of the trial against attorney Daniel Stanford, there’s been one notable absence from Judge Elizabeth Foote’s courtroom: attorney Bill Goode.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees and wide receiver Nick Toon are not on the same page yet, and time is running short for Toon to get it right.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister started his sign-up for re-election the same as other candidates, filling out paperwork and handing over qualifying money. But he finished it like no other, doused with ice.
That’s what Lafayette Parish has obtained in Pentagon surplus since 2006.
Qualifying continues through Friday.