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 Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, April 16, 2014:
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.
Now that lawmakers have shot down efforts to cap annual interest rates for payday loans, supporters for stricter regulations of the storefront lenders are rallying behind another strategy.
The Appropriations Committee held public testimony day, letting people talk about what they like or don't like about Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget recommendations for the 2014-15 fiscal year that begins July 1.
Lafayette police are investigating the death of a 21-year-old woman whose body was found early Sunday in a drainage ditch in Girard Park.
Former Grant parish District Attorney Ed Tarpley says he's running for the U.S. House seat currently held by Republican Vance McAllister of Swartz.
Louisiana-Lafayette got strong starting pitching and timely hitting to hold off Arkansas-Little Rock 6-3 in Sun Belt Conference baseball in Lafayette, La.
Chris Williams knows how to pilfer from the public coffers, this time with a back-pay lawsuit filed three years ago against the Lafayette Housing Authority, which netted the former city-parish councilman a cool five figures.
McAllister's office vowed that he intended to stay in office — for now. As for questions about whether he would stand for re-election in November, those were dodged.
The Green Army's Lafayette brigade has announced it will pay a visit Friday morning to Sen. Page Cortez to urge him to vote against Sen. Robert Adley's SB 553, which the group is calling the "Big Oil Bailout Bill of 2014."