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."
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.