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."
Business organizations opposed the proposal, saying it would lead to job losses and higher prices for goods and services.
An attempt to repeal a six-year-old law that permits public school science teachers to use material outside a classroom's adopted textbook has been rejected by the Senate Education Committee.
New York Times poll shows Obama, Jindal have identical approval and disapproval ratings in the state.
OK, so they’re bentgrass, the type used on golf course greens. But grass is grass.
The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill Wednesday, despite opponents who argued it would shut down the storefront lenders.
A measure to allow the state to implement its own, less stringent plan for limiting carbon dioxide emissions unanimously passed the Senate.
FDA to regulate e-cigarettes, Jodie Foster gets married, Vermont to require labels on genetically-modified food, and more news for today, April 24, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.