Post-hurricane politicking promises to be markedly different for voters and candidates. Deserted cities will complicate media launches; limited resources will make fundraising difficult, and scores of displaced voters could forever change the face of get-out-the-vote efforts.
Congressional elections are slated for the fall, and municipal and mayoral elections should be held in New Orleans no later than April 29. The state is working with the federal government to locate displaced voters and inform them of their rights ' while campaign pros are trying to figure out ways to connect with constituents in the storms' aftermath.
Roy Fletcher, a political consultant from Shreveport who has helped elect both Republicans and Democrats, says television campaigns are being completely written out of strategy books for many candidates. In parishes like Orleans and Cameron, many residents are without television sets, and those who fled no longer tune into the market.
"I think there will be, in New Orleans particularly, a large focus on alternative medias like the Internet," he says. "You'll see people using e-mail lists and cell phones and advertising on Web sites like nola.com."
Mike Smith, a principal for MDSA Strategic Communications in Baton Rouge, a firm that represents mostly Republicans, says even direct mail will fall by the wayside in certain areas. Still, it may be the key in Baton Rouge, Acadiana and northern Louisiana, where many displaced voters have taken refuge.
"Radio is hot right now and has become a very effective means of communications in areas like Lake Charles and New Orleans," he says. "It's one of the only ways many people are getting information, and you're going to see candidates sinking a lot more money into it than they would during a normal campaign."
To launch any campaign, candidates will still need money. But with so many individuals and businesses' cash tied up in the rebuilding efforts, candidates will more than ever need to be independently wealthy or have a substantial war chest at their disposal, says former legislator Ron Gomez, owner of the Lafayette public relations and advertising firm Edge Communications.
"People are already having problems with this," Gomez says. "Even charities that are not connected to storm relief are having difficulty finding money."
Some incumbents might also run into a bit of trouble when they find corporate donations have run dry, notes Fletcher. "Businesses that left are still in places like Houston, and they still don't know if they want to invest in south Louisiana and if it's part of their future."
With limited local cash, candidates may have to rely on getting voters to the polls and ' gasp ' a strong, coherent message.
"Get-out-the-vote and grassroots efforts are going to make or break campaigns in the coming months," MDSA's Smith says. "With TV out the window and direct mail questionable, some seasoned elected officials are going to find themselves having to go door-to-door. It's going to be a big change for them."
Busing large numbers of voters to the polls on Election Day and paying block captains to oversee critical areas may no longer be the most viable options, according to Fletcher. "Perhaps the get-out-the-vote effort won't even be on Election Day, since there will be a few days of early voting this year," he adds. "You may have some new situations where you reach voters by other means in heavily populated areas," he says, and those plans are still in the development stages.
As for issues themselves, Katrina and Rita-related questions top the list. How will Louisiana continue to rebuild? How will hurricane protection be approached in the future? Were the right decisions made in the past? There will be platforms and promises and accusations and plenty of hurricane-related mudslinging. Fingers will be pointed, and blame will be tossed around, and Fletcher says voters are expecting it. They're ready to hold someone ' or some people ' accountable.
"We're in an environment right now that's like winter in Louisiana when I was growing up and we would go out hog hunting," he says. "If you're an incumbent right now, believe me, when the elections roll around, there will be a lot of hog hunting."
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The former star of Saturday Night Live throws in his 2 cents on the Big Oil lawsuit.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday, March 10, 2014:
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.
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.