One house, one client, one neighborhood, one town. Now imagine that you're a new organization trying to institute massive government and legislative reforms for an entire state, and you get a sense of the obstacles and challenges facing Blueprint Louisiana.
That much was evident last week as Blueprint unveiled its first list of legislative and statewide candidates that had signed a pledge supporting the group's plan. Out of the four major gubernatorial candidates, only Independent John Georges signed Blueprint's contract.
Here are the total numbers on Blueprint supporters:
â?¢ 121 candidates for the Louisiana House of Representatives (out of 283 running)
â?¢ 57 candidates (out of 98 running) for the Louisiana State Senate
â?¢ 12 candidates for statewide offices (out of 34 running)
The relatively low numbers shouldn't be surprising. Blueprint's 5-point agenda encompasses ethics reform, early education, workforce training, health care reform and infrastructure repairs and investment ' all worthy goals, and all worthy of support. However, since its inception, Blueprint has held firm on its all-or-nothing challenge to candidates and legislators: Embrace our entire agenda, or we won't embrace you. So a politico who supports the whole agenda but prioritizes coastal restoration over road repairs, for example, has a legitimate reason not to sign the contract.
And what about candidates that wholeheartedly support, say, four out of Blueprint's five mission statements, but have a philosophical difference on the specifics of the fifth item? That's apparently what happened with Democratic gubernatorial candidates Walter Boasso and Foster Campbell, who've said that they fear Blueprint's health care reform plans would endanger the charity hospital system. Lafayette attorney and Blueprint co-founder and steering committee member Clay Allen tells The Independent that isn't the case, and Campbell and Boasso are misrepresenting Blueprint's proposed private/public health-care partnerships ' but there's a clear example where semantic disagreements aren't helping the group's overriding goals.
What to make of the number of candidates who've signed on so far? Blueprint naysayers surely see the glass as half-empty, while supporters say it's half-full; privately, some of the group's founders are probably angry enough to throw the glass at the wall ' especially after Republican U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal didn't sign Blueprint's contract. Adding insult to injury, Jindal's spokeswoman plainly told The Advocate, "Bobby is focused on releasing his own detailed policy plans and is not signing onto the plans of any other groups."
While Blueprint Louisiana's research, policy initiatives and diverse backing confirm the organization's non-partisan pledge, a number of steering committee members including Allen and Lafayette's Bill Fenstermaker have made personal contributions to Jindal's campaign. "I've contributed to Georges, too," says Allen. "I contributed to Jindal before we launched Blueprint. At this point, there's no candidate I'd support who doesn't support Blueprint. It's more important to me than any individual candidate or relationship I've had with a candidate." (Allen notes that he's "disappointed" that Independent Lafayette State Rep. Joel Robideaux doesn't intend to sign Blueprint's contract.)
"By not signing, candidates are saying that they have a vested interest in the status quo, or they're not interested in accountability," says Allen.
This is where it should get interesting. Blueprint has already spent $415,000 for its first round of media buys, which were largely aimed at creating awareness of the group and its goals. Now Blueprint is gearing up to spend $400,000 on its second wave of advertising, which will ostensibly highlight which candidates are or aren't in Blueprint's corner. Earlier this year, Blueprint co-founder Matt Stuller said the group intended to be "very punitive" toward non-Blueprint candidates. If that's the case, then at the very least, in the hugely important governor's race, will voters start seeing TV and radio ads trumpeting Blueprint's endorsement of Georges for governor?
"With TV and radio, we're going to try and drive people back to the [Blueprint] Web site," says spokesman Brad Lambert. "Our approach on the second phase of the media buy is to draw attention to the candidates who are supporting the agenda. The space of a print ad allows us to say, 'Here are the candidates that support the agenda.' We simply don't have time to do that in a 30-second TV or radio spot."
Only time and specific ad content will tell, but that overall strategy feels toothless. After investing so much time and money into its efforts, it seems strange that Blueprint wouldn't be taking more of a forceful shouting-from-every-rooftop approach to promote its candidates.
The ultimate test of Blueprint's effectiveness ' and the power of the group's founders and supporters shouldn't be underestimated ' will be post-election. And that raises the biggest question of all: How will the group measure legislators' commitment to its agenda if its supporters wind up working under a governor that never signed Blueprint's pledge in the first place?
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.