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?
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday, April 17, 2014:
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.
Now that lawmakers have shot down efforts to cap annual interest rates for payday loans, supporters for stricter regulations of the storefront lenders are rallying behind another strategy.
The Appropriations Committee held public testimony day, letting people talk about what they like or don't like about Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget recommendations for the 2014-15 fiscal year that begins July 1.
Lafayette police are investigating the death of a 21-year-old woman whose body was found early Sunday in a drainage ditch in Girard Park.
Former Grant parish District Attorney Ed Tarpley says he's running for the U.S. House seat currently held by Republican Vance McAllister of Swartz.
Louisiana-Lafayette got strong starting pitching and timely hitting to hold off Arkansas-Little Rock 6-3 in Sun Belt Conference baseball in Lafayette, La.
Chris Williams knows how to pilfer from the public coffers, this time with a back-pay lawsuit filed three years ago against the Lafayette Housing Authority, which netted the former city-parish councilman a cool five figures.
McAllister's office vowed that he intended to stay in office — for now. As for questions about whether he would stand for re-election in November, those were dodged.
The Green Army's Lafayette brigade has announced it will pay a visit Friday morning to Sen. Page Cortez to urge him to vote against Sen. Robert Adley's SB 553, which the group is calling the "Big Oil Bailout Bill of 2014."