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.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Oscar de la Renta dies; Pistorius sentenced; World Series begins and more national and international news for Tuesday, October 21, 2014.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.
Coming off the high of a fourth quarter comeback against Tampa Bay and a helpful bye week, linebacker Junior Galette sees a real turnaround coming for New Orleans' struggling defense.
Former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party's most popular surrogate this fall, is heading to Louisiana early next week for a campaign rally with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Time and again you hear people say DA Mike Harson is unbeatable because he's doled out political favors over the past 20 years. But a new lawsuit could end that speculation.
After the season's signature win (so far), here are some helpful tips for Cajun Nation during the conference stretch.
Did the state close last year's books with a surplus or a deficit?
Practicing without limitations on Wednesday, running back Mark Ingram looked ready to return to a New Orleans offense that once again ranks among the NFL's best when the Saints play at Detroit on Sunday.
It’s been decided: Superintendents of Louisiana’s public school system will retain the controversial powers granted by Act 1 of the 2012 session.
Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy has a bone to pick with the Jindal administration, which recently — surprise! — announced that the state ended the most recent budget year with a $178.5 million dollar surplus.
The messaging battle, however, isn't tied to individual campaign accounts. Third-party groups have poured millions of dollars into advertising.
With her political future in jeopardy, Sen. Mary Landrieu is turning to a natural constituent base in her re-election bid.
Terrance Broadway threw for a touchdown and rushed for 113 yards to lead Louisiana-Lafayette to a 34-10 victory over Texas State on Tuesday night.