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.
Business organizations opposed the proposal, saying it would lead to job losses and higher prices for goods and services.
An attempt to repeal a six-year-old law that permits public school science teachers to use material outside a classroom's adopted textbook has been rejected by the Senate Education Committee.
New York Times poll shows Obama, Jindal have identical approval and disapproval ratings in the state.
OK, so they’re bentgrass, the type used on golf course greens. But grass is grass.
The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill Wednesday, despite opponents who argued it would shut down the storefront lenders.
A measure to allow the state to implement its own, less stringent plan for limiting carbon dioxide emissions unanimously passed the Senate.
FDA to regulate e-cigarettes, Jodie Foster gets married, Vermont to require labels on genetically-modified food, and more news for today, April 24, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.