At the time, Edwards was an anomaly. A Catholic from south Louisiana was as foreign to the governor's mansion as a Polish pope was to the Vatican.
EWE's predecessors had been a succession of Protestants from north Louisiana. Nearly three decades later, it appears Buddy Roemer may be the last of the type to fit the mold of north Louisiana Protestant Huey Pierce Long, the pride of Winnfield. Roemer is a Bossier City Methodist who departed the House that Huey built 13 years ago.
It's almost a certainty that Gov. Kathleen Blanco won't be the last of the Edwards mold to sit in the governor's chair. Both of our U.S. senators, Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, share geography and Catholicism with Blanco. Congressmen Bobby Jindal of Kenner and Charles Melancon of Napoleonville are also south Louisianans, who receive spiritual guidance from Rome.
It was once the kiss of death for a Louisiana politician to profess allegiance to the Pope. But the state's population base has shifted so much that more than two-thirds of Louisiana's residents live south of Alexandria. The South remains overwhelmingly Protestant in religious affiliation, but two other southern states have elected Catholic governors in North Carolina's Michael Easley and Florida's Jeb Bush.
John Kennedy remains the only Catholic to be elected president. Forty-five years later, three potential Catholic White House aspirants are Louisiana politicians. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter are in their forties while Bobby Jindal is just 33.
Before any presidential dreams are formally launched, Jindal and Landrieu will likely duke it out in 2008 when the New Orleans incumbent seeks a third term in the Senate.
JINDAL BANKING ON SUPPORTERS
Whatever his future intentions are, Jindal is making sure he has the financial backing for campaigning. Thousands of Bobby Jindal supporters received a disquieting e-mail last week urging contributors to send him money immediately. Jindal faces re-election in a year and a half, and implored backers to pull out their checkbooks and credit cards now.
"To reach our goal, we must raise $51,789 TODAY,!!" the freshman Republican exhorted his followers. Jindal might have learned some collection methods from evangelist Jimmy Swaggart, who was riding high in Baton Rouge during the childhood of the congressman.
Jindal received nearly 80 percent of the votes in the First District last year as he succeeded David Vitter in the U. S. House of Representatives, but he's taking no chances on the loyalty of the electorate. Jindal aide Timmy Teepell was quoted in the New Orleans Times-Picayune as saying, "We're not going to take anything for granted. We know only one way to campaign, and that's full out."
Jindal, who is the head of the Republican freshman class in Washington, had $666,450 in his campaign account at the close of 2004. He was so well-financed last year that he donated some money to fellow GOP candidates in other states.
The 2003 gubernatorial runner-up was rewarded by his colleagues with the post of assistant majority whip. "One weak fund-raising quarter will invite opponents and national interest groups to target me for defeat," Jindal wrote.
Despite the urgent plea, the Kenner lawmaker is considered a cinch for re-election to the House and faces no major Democratic opposition. It appears more and more likely that Jindal will use his massive war chest against Landrieu in 2008.
LOBBYISTS ON THE LOOSE
Gov. Blanco steered a bill through the Louisiana Legislature to ban fund-raisers by House and Senate members during the session. Her success has produced a flurry of campaign functions before the April 25 opening of this year's session.
State lawmakers are scrambling to raise every dollar before they convene at the Capitol. They are not up for re-election until 2007, but most members are ramping up for the next election.
Lobbyists are crisscrossing Louisiana to appear at these events, so they may have more time available during the session. Depending on your point of view, this could be a positive or not so positive development.
Even though this is a "fiscal-only session," lawmakers are allowed to file five non-fiscal bills. It promises to be a contentious session with some familiar names surfacing. Sen. James David Cain, R-Dry Creek, is proposing legislation to make it a crime to remove a feeding tube. Cain says he was influenced by the attention the Terry Schiavo case generated. Fifteen years ago, the flamboyant brother of Angola Warden Burl Cain proposed a bill to lower the battery penalty for beating up flag burners.
Jim Engster is the general manager of WRKF (89.3 FM). He hosts the Jim Engster Show, which airs weekdays at 9 a.m.
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.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, April 16, 2014:
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."