KENNEDY: I’M CHEAP
Republican U.S. Senate Candidate John Kennedy has launched his first TV ad in his bid to unseat two-term incumbent Mary Landrieu. Kennedy’s message: I’m cheap — like bologna sandwich brown bag lunch cheap. The ad shows Kennedy toting a paper bag lunch along with his briefcase, his wholesale loafers squeaking down the hall, and stooping to pick up a loose penny up off the floor on the way into his office. Over scenes of Kennedy working at his desk, the ad cites the state treasurer’s investment savvy and frugal debt management. Kennedy then pulls a sandwich out of his bag to eat at his desk, saying, “Cheap, maybe we could use a little of that in Washington.” Titled “brown bag,” the ad is now running statewide.
Trying to counter Landrieu’s Senate seniority, Kennedy is making Washington spending run amuck a major plank of his campaign’s platform. He has previously criticized Landrieu on the issue of earmark spending, which he pledges to reform. In other campaign news, Landrieu has launched a new commercial of her own, the first negative ad in what is expected to be a heated race. Landrieu’s ad, titled “Spinning,” lampoons Kennedy’s opportunistic switch to the Republican Party last year and his multiple runs for higher office, labeling him “one confused politician.”
ACADIANA BUSINESS BRASS BACKS LANDRIEU
More than a dozen business leaders from Acadiana threw their support behind Sen. Mary Landrieu’s re-election bid last week, touting the senator’s pro-business record and seniority. In an apparent snub to former-Democrat-turned-GOP candidate John Kennedy (who switched to the Republican Party in 2007 after years as a Democrat) the group included several influential Republicans. Among them, Blueprint Louisiana founders Bill Fenstermaker and Clay Allen, and Merlin Oil & Gas President Mark Miller. “This is not a race about Republican or Democrat,” Allen says. “This is a race about demonstrated leadership.” Adds Miller: “Sen. Landrieu has been a friend to the IPAA (Independent Petroleum Association of America) for many years. She has been there in the tough votes, and we always knew we could count on her.”
LANDRIEU’S OTHER BIG ENDORSEMENT
Last week, Landrieu also won the endorsement of the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association. Although the state’s sheriffs traditionally back Democrats — with the notable exception of GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal — LSA Executive Director Hal Turner says seniority is what pushed Landrieu over the top. “With the loss of other senior members of our Louisiana delegation this year, now, more than ever, we need Sen. Landrieu’s experience and seniority in Congress so that she can continue making a difference in our state,” Turner says.
Leonardo Alcivar, Kennedy’s communications director, says last week’s LSA endorsement wasn’t unexpected, given the historical leanings of the LSA. He framed it as a minor announcement. “Endorsements from associations are meaningless,” Alcivar says. “Mary Landrieu may be popular with party bosses and association higher-ups, but we know that sheriffs who are fighting on the front lines will be standing with John Kennedy in November.”
While crime and law enforcement issues haven’t become a hot topic in the campaigns, Kennedy says they’re included in the subject matter he wants to address in debates against Landrieu. More than a month ago, Kennedy called on Landrieu to participate in debates in every congressional district. Landrieu’s campaign responded by referring to a statewide tour Landrieu is currently taking to discuss voter issues. Landrieu campaign spokesman Scott Schneider also reminded Kennedy that lawmakers still have work to do. “Sen. Landrieu looks forward to a series of debates with Mr. Kennedy in October when the important work of this Congress is completed,” Schneider says.
STATE BUCKS NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION TREND
Coming up on the 2008 elections, Louisiana continues to buck the trend of voter registration numbers from across the country. The New York Times recently examined registration statistics from states across the country and found the Bayou State an anomaly. It’s one of only three states where Democrats failed to post gains compared to 2004 and the only state where Republican registration grew by more than one percentage point while Democratic numbers declined.
Louisiana’s registration stats are undoubtably skewed by the 2005 diaspora caused by Hurricane Katrina. According to statistics posted on the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Web site, from November 2004 to August 2008, the state’s overall number of registered voters has declined 1.4 percent, from 2,923,295 to 2,881,158. The number of registered Democrats is down 6 percent, from 1,618,431 to 1,518,158. Registered Republicans are up 4 percent, from 700,691 to 732,742. “Other” party candidates, including independents, rose a combined 5 percent, from 604,273 to 639,258.
Contributors: Jeremy Alford and Nathan Stubbs
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MAY 21 Here's a post on the Advocate (but buried on a subpage, not on the front) that reports something Louisiana Voice reported some time ago: a top DOE official lives in Los Angeles and "commutes" to Baton Rouge. The positioning of the story caused a stir on Facebook Monday, with several posters asking if the Advocate was covering someone's hiney. Sentell's stories on DOE are notoriously soft, and this one is no different: don't expect any hard questions in here.
MAY 21 Here's another post from blogger Tom Aswell about the "course choice" program. He's already reported on kids being signed up without their consent or knowledge, and has more here: For example, he tells of a six-year-old who was signed up for high school Latin. He also digs a little deeper into the sister companies of the main one operating in Louisiana; all of them seem to have complaints against them. Stinky.
MAY 21 Given the 80 percent cut in higher ed funding since he's been in office, it's clear Gov. Jindal would rather give tax cuts to out of state companies than have a functioning system, blogger Dayne Sherman argues in this post. The cuts have been such a disaster, Sherman says, that it will take 30 years to fix what's been broken. He says he believes the aim is to shut down most of the schools before Jindal leaves in 2016.
MAY 21 Blogger CB Forgotston says there are too many elections in Louisiana, and they're costing us too much money. The proof is in the pudding: turnout for most of these nonsensical pollings gets worse and worse, CB opines, even as millions of dollars that could be spent on health care or higher ed go down the tubes. The legislature must take action to stem the tide of pointless elections, he says.
MAY 21 Here's an interesting investigative piece by WVUE on the retirement benefits of some Jefferson Parish public employees. According to the story, the taxpayers are paying 100 percent of the retirement contributions of employees who started work prior to a certain date in April 1986 -- and have done for more than 30 years. It costs the parish millions annually, and might not be legal, the story reports.
MAY 21 This post on Bayou Buzz provides insight from Louisiana's intrepid pollster, Bernie Pinsonat, on the winners and losers from this year's legislative session. But to hear Bernie tell it, there's almost nuttin but losers: Jindal, the Republican party, the Fiscal Hawks all get big goose eggs in his win column.
MAY 20 This post on The Lens takes a look at a huge (either $500K or $250K) bill that one NOLA charter now has for school lunches. The RSD says the charter group didn't fill out the proper paperwork for federal reimbursement, but the story details how the RSD didn't ensure the people running the charter had the proper training, despite requests from hapless charter employees trying to fill out forms. Either way, somebody's asleep at the wheel.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.