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 continued refusal by LPSB President Hunter Beasley and attorney Dennis Blunt to release a draft copy of the investigation into Superintendent Pat Cooper has resulted in a lawsuit by The Daily Advertiser.
The New Orleans Saints' early season slide is the kind of scenario Sean Payton had in mind when the coach and his staff placed a premium on character during player evaluations.
Long before a man was diagnosed with the Ebola virus in neighboring Texas, Louisiana's health department was working on what to do in case someone with the disease showed up in the state.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
Women sue over sperm mix-up; Romney on campaign trail; Ebola patient was released from hospital and more national and international news for Thursday, October 02, 2014.
State Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, surprised few in the Hub City Wednesday afternoon when he made (semi) official what most of us have known for months: He is running to replace Joey Durel as city-parish president.
Louisiana's first black Republican state senator since Reconstruction — who was a Republican before he was a Democrat before he was a Republican again — is accusing Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of using the black community for votes and providing nothing in return.
LSU's governing board has backed new hospital privatization contracts that give hospital managers greater ease to leave the deal and fewer restrictions about must-have services.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is courting young voters in several appearances across Louisiana this week, talking about her support for legislation that could lower students' college costs.
Stage 4 vet takes on cancer and reminds us all what it really means to get involved.
Is Mary fading as Vitter solidifies his lock on the fourth floor?
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has renegotiated contracts for six LSU hospital privatization deals, hoping to reach a compromise with federal health officials that will keep Medicaid dollars flowing to the privatized patient services.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is defending her record on gun rights, seeking to rebut sharp criticism from the NRA in a state where the right to bear arms is given special constitutional protection.
Citizens, you have less than a week to register to vote in the Nov. 4 election. Remember, if you don’t vote you can’t complain about the outcome. Well, you can but it’s kind of hypocritical.
After being forced out by its former landlords last year, the community garden has a new location and a 10-year lease.
The party says it has hit a milestone, reaching 10,000 registered voters in the state.
Defensive captain Junior Galette is disgusted by the Saints' sluggish start.
The use of $60 million in Louisiana's public school financing formula to pay for nearly three dozen charter schools violates the state constitution, a statewide teachers' union claimed Monday in a lawsuit.
February trial date indicates parties were unable to negotiate a settlement.
There was a time when United Ballot had a political stranglehold so tight on Lafayette’s black community it was nearly unbreakable, but that grip might be loosening.
The race for Lafayette city marshal may not be the most exciting of this year’s local political contests, but it could prove the most historic.
With the DA’s race too close to call and negative media coverage of Mike Harson on the ebb, will challenger Keith Stutes take the gloves off?
Gov. Bobby Jindal has been viewed as a health care policy wonk, and he's tried to build on that image ahead of a likely 2016 presidential campaign, positioning himself as the candidate with substantive ideas.
Jerry Jones watched what he called the best effort he's seen in 25 years as owner of the Dallas Cowboys in the first half, and that was before Tony Romo had the longest scramble of his career and DeMarco Murray finished off yet another 100-yard game.
Two of the most recognizable women in Republican politics, Sarah Palin and Mary Matalin, have been heavily involved in Louisiana’s current election cycle.