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?
We can safely assume incumbent Chief K.P. Gibson isn’t too worried about this challenger.
Nationally, Republicans must gain six seats to win Senate control. The most competitive races, many in states where Obama lost in 2012, remain too close to call.
The Baton Rouge Republican has repeatedly battled a perception within his own party that he perhaps wasn't the best choice to carry the GOP banner.
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
Corporations spending in state elections; Kenny G and Hong Kong; states resist gay marriage and more national and international news for Thursday, October 23, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
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.
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.