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 Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.
A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 from I-49 in Lafayette to Seigen Lane in Baton Rouge.
Jim Bernhard, who engineered the sale of The Shaw Group for $3 billion, recently has told several people involved in Democratic politics that he intends to run for governor in 2015.
A New Orleans levee board wants to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for decades of damage to our state’s coastline, but the Legislature may be poised to put the kibosh on the suit.
New standards curb elective induction
CVS stops tobacco sales
If an Acadia Parish fiddler misses a note while swatting a fly, will a St. Martinville accordionist learn “Ma ‘Tite Fille”?
(It's good, it's bad and it's just crazy)