For months now, U.S. Sen. David Vitter has travelled the state pushing the message that he should be re-elected because his defeat would possibly give Democrats the 60th vote they need for a filibuster-proof majority (as it stood at 58 after the elections) if Democrat Al Franken were to prevail in the Minnesota recount versus Republican incumbent Norm Coleman.
Lightning has struck not once, but twice, since then. Not only did the Minnesota Supreme Court certify comedian Franken as the winner (yes, Coleman’s place in history may be that he lost to Al Franken, pending the U.S. Supreme Court decision), but last week’s party switch by 29-year Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania to Democrat now negates Vitter’s “boogie-man” strategy. Vitter no longer can claim he is the “only thing standing between the Democrats and a filibuster-proof majority.” Note to advertising team: time to go back to the drawing board.
The intriguing thought to consider is whether it now frees up the national Republican Party (since it no longer needs to protect a razor-thin one vote filibuster proof margin) to clean up the Vitter mess by throwing him under the bus in the 2010 Republican Primary in favor of Secretary of State Jay Dardenne.
Vitter’s sex scandal will clearly dog him the remaining days of his political life, just as the Republican Party is desperately seeking to redefine itself, its image and its values (Jindal’s State of the Union response and keynote address to the Republican Congressional Committee Dinner are prime examples). Republicans both in state and out may see this as a good time to rid themselves of the albatross that Vitter has become to the party — particularly among Republican female voters. Sources close to Dardenne indicate he is more than just casually considering it. One close ally of Dardenne had this to say, before the Specter party switch occurred: “Jay is very seriously considering it. Very Seriously. His only apprehension is whether he wants to commit to a tenure in federal politics versus state government.”
The affable and easygoing Dardenne would presumably draw upon a considerable network of current and former legislators statewide should he mount a primary challenge to Vitter. A war chest of $6 million to $8 million minimum would be necessary, so expect to hear a decision from Dardenne no later than the fall, a little over a year from election day. The interim summer period before an announcement is made by Dardenne will make Vitter sweat a little more than the rest of us this summer.
Fenstermaker is king
Get ready for a big local showing at Washington Mardi Gras 2010, as next year’s royalty is all about Lafayette. D.C. sources have ended weeks of speculation by confirming Lafayette businessman Bill Fenstermaker will reign as king of the 2010 ball.
Fenstermaker is owner of Fenstermaker & Associates, chairman of the Board of IberiaBank and on the board of trustees of Lafayette General Medical Center. Fenstermaker’s queen is Dayna Haynie of Lafayette, daughter of lobbyist Randy Haynie.
Both were picked by U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, who will chair the 2010 ball for the first time.
According to the Washington Hilton, the host hotel for the three-day nonstop party that mixes Louisiana business and politics, the 2010 ball is Jan. 22.
MAY 22 This post was written the day after the second line shooting in NOLA, by Brentin Mock. Mock is a friend of Deb "Big Red" Cotton, a blogger who was shot in the back and was seriously injured. It is a raw, emotional piece of writing, something the writer obviously felt he needed to get off his chest. But it raises questions that can't be easily dismissed, and might give some insight into where the source of these events truly is.
MAY 22 In this Baton Rouge Business Report post, Rolfe McCollister considers the privatization of bus service in Baton Rouge. After decades of under-funding, it is a mess, and although a tax (partially) passed last year, improvement hasn't happened yet. McCollister apparently feels it is time to let private business get in on the transit business.
MAY 22 This post on Bayou Buzz by Jeff Crouere urges the defeat of a bill that would grant modest pay increases over the next several years to the state's judges and clerks of court. The state is in no position to fund pay hikes, Crouere argues, with the pay increases costing a total of $9 million over several years. It sends the wrong message to the (proverbial) hard-working people of Louisiana, he says.
MAY 22 The Advocate reports here that State Treasurer John Kennedy is complaining about a meeting of the corporation that oversees the state's tobacco settlement. The Governor wanted it restructured, and he has some support, but not a lot. The corporation agreed with his plan, but Kennedy didn't, and it appears that the meeting was noticed in a manner completely different than that of all previous meetings. Kennedy's given to hyperbole, but in this case the fish don't smell too fresh.
MAY 22 In this Advocate story, Carencro Police Chief Carlos Stout says the recent federal indictment of a strip club owner is all wrong. The indictment alleges that drugs and prostitution went on with impunity because club staff made arrangements with "local" police. Stout says it never happened, and while his cops do work security in the parking lot, they're not allowed inside.
MAY 22 This amusing post in DIG Baton Rouge recounts an ad that ran on Craig's List recently; the advertiser was seeking tenants for a Beauregard Town house. He knew his market, and wrote an ad that the most ironical hipster couldn't resist. Apparently, he really did know his market, because the ad worked like a charm.
MAY 22 In this post in The Lens, Mark Moseley comments on the rhetoric Gov. Jindal employed in trying to save his tax "reform" package. One interesting point concerns Jindal's use of his brother, Nikesh, in a little story. Nikesh left Louisiana because of his inability to get a decent job, the story goes, but the story won't hold water: Nikesh lives in DC, which has an income tax level comparable to Louisiana, Moseley says. If income taxes caused the dismal situation, it should exist in DC too. Right?
MAY 22 This post by columnist John Maginnis traces the trajectory of the bill that would fund construction at community and technical colleges -- and bypass the Board of Regents and traditional higher ed funding mechanisms. Sure, it will bust the legislature's self-imposed debt limit, but some leges feel that there's more need (because there is more growth) in the community and technical college area than in the university area, he says.
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.