A few of the polls released to the public on the governor's race have both men recording only a few percentage points, with Campbell leading slightly. It's a far cry from the 40-or-so points Jindal is pulling, but the number of undecided voters remains high in all surveys ' as it should roughly six months out from the primary. Campbell and Boasso are also far below the $5 million fund raising mark that Jindal surpassed this month. Campbell has about $1 million in the bank, while Boasso has put up $2 million of his own cash and is promising to spend twice that.
But what they both lack in green, they more than make up for in their convictions. Campbell, a member of the Public Service Commission and former state senator from Oak Grove, has a silver tongue that he uses to demonize corporate giants like ExxonMobil and Entergy; he's a Louisiana populist if there ever were one. That may be attractive to an electorate fatigued over recovery issues, as was the case with former folksy Gov. Huey P. Long following the momentous 1927 floods.
The Louisiana Democratic Party, however, isn't jumping to back Campbell. It'll probably take a vote of the party's state central committee or a runoff berth for that to happen, says Democratic spokeswoman Julie Vezinot. "Right now we're helping all Democrats," she says. "The field could become more packed if a Walter Boasso or someone else comes over into our fold, though."
For now, Campbell is more than willing to carry his own water. He is about to be unleashed on the voting public, as he recently ordered up a large radio buy to promote his trademark issues: eliminating state income taxes and replacing them with an updated version of the 1921 severance tax on oil and gas, only this time on foreign oil processed in Louisiana. It's a straightforward spot with a dramatic score, and Campbell's camp says it will run statewide.
On his most recent campaign finance report, however, only two advertising expenditures are listed: $125 for KWCL in Oak Grove and $7,000 to WWL in New Orleans. More bills could come, however, as the report also reveals Campbell loaned the campaign $300,000 from his own pocket the day before the first-quarter reporting period ended April 13.
The media buy was timed to coincide with the federal tax deadline, but it will also introduce Campbell to Louisiana's voters, some of whom already know about the man and his message. He has been pushing his populist tax agenda for more than a decade, this time promising that $3.1 billion in taxes will be returned to residents if he's elected. But it's the "small fee" he proposes on foreign oil that will garner Campbell the most attention.
Louisiana will gain $1.7 billion in new revenue each year, he says, and more than half of the cash will go to coastal restoration. That could help Campbell shore up support in south Louisiana, supplementing his northerly base, but he'll have to fight the oil industry to gain any real ground. Larry Wall, a spokesman for the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, says he has been fielding interviews almost daily to counter Campbell's claim. "The issue will never have the votes to pass, but just the talking about the issue is threatening to people who want to move businesses here," Wall says.
The oil industry will enjoy a run of free media in coming weeks as Campbell's ideas are questioned by reporters, but there isn't much brewing in the way of organized opposition ' yet. "If he starts polling higher or is close to a runoff, we'll be pulling out all the stops," says one industry lobbyist.
Having first been elected to the state Senate in 2003, Boasso hasn't had much time to incur any real political enemies. When it comes to fund raising, he has one benefit Campbell doesn't: personal wealth. He has amassed a fortune raising cattle and farming pine, but the bulk of his income is derived from Boasso America Corporation, a national network of tank-container facilities for rail, road and marine. (The company also dabbles in everything from bulk-liquid transportation to emergency-response tank-trucks.) Boasso can be extravagant; he has a ranch housing zebras and other exotic animals. He's passionate and compassionate, too, spending countless dollars to help his neighbors recover. In fact, he hotwired a school bus in the desperate days following Hurricane Katrina to personally evacuate people from St. Bernard Parish.
More than any other candidate running, or thinking of running, Boasso has the most intriguing story to tell. The Louisiana Republican Party, however, has already endorsed Jindal, despite the fact that qualifying is months away. The decision infuriated Boasso, but it ultimately probably didn't matter much. From the starting gate, Boasso has kept a sense of autonomy in his camp, and there were even rumors early on he would run as an independent. "Let's demand we check party labels at the front door and do what's right for the people," Boasso says.
Roger F. Villere Jr., state GOP chairman, contends Boasso wasn't overlooked but says the party wanted to be prepared to take over the mansion. "We took this action because we believe that we must send an immediate and unmistakable message to the voters," he says. By making that call, Villere and Louisiana's Republicans may lose a vibrant spokesman, as well as someone with deep pockets, because Boasso is openly flirting with every other party but the GOP.
The strategy might work well for Boasso, who has only released vague parts of his agenda thus far. It certainly worked for former Gov. Mike Foster, who switched from Democrat to Republican in the 1995 contest before taking the whole enchilada.
Whatever Boasso does, he better do it fast. The news of his potential jump might be exciting fodder for political junkies, but if it persists for too long, it could overshadow his entire message and hamper any chance he has of boosting his fall numbers, says Joshua Stockley, former president of Louisiana Political Science Association and professor of government at Nicholls State University.
"This may be a shrewd move to up his name recognition statewide, but if he keeps shopping around like this there is a real danger people will talk more about the switch than his agenda," Stockley says. "Both he and Campbell are second-tier candidates, and they're both looking for ways to increase their stock."
A nationwide search is under way to fill the vacancy of Lafayette Regional Airport Director Greg Roberts following his resignation over an incident in which he allegedly pointed a fake gun at an engineer during a meeting in June, and a replacement is expected by January.
The Ragin’ Cajuns got off to a superb start Saturday night, and the Human Jukebox made the soaked season opener even sweeter for the third-largest crowd in Cajun Field history.
The Louisiana health department will follow a federal judge's order and refrain from immediately penalizing doctors who are trying to comply with a new abortion law that requires them to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital, a spokeswoman said Monday.
While bogged down with qualifying candidates last month, Secretary of State Tom Schedler didn’t lose sight of the true endgame coming in November and December.
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Stoned driving a concern when pot is legal; Detroit's bankruptcy trial; speed trap scandal in Florida and more national and international news for Tuesday, September 02, 2014.
A federal jury found attorney Daniel Stanford guilty Friday afternoon on eight of 13 counts for his role in the Curious Goods conspiracy.
Lafayette City-Court Judge Francie Bouillion has served on the bench for two decades since winning a special election to replace Judge Kaliste Saloom when he retired in 1994.
The magazine's senior football writer also predicts a break-out year for Saints fourth-year running back Mark Ingram.
Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh rested his regulars and watched with delight as Ray Rice's backups ground out 214 yards rushing in a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is set to put the kibosh on the legal ownership of monkeys trained to help the disabled, and the agency wants to know what you think.
A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
An abortion rights organization wants a federal judge to block enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law while its lawsuit to overturn the law makes its way through court.
Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
The attention surrounding Victor White III has spiked with the release of last week’s autopsy report, which has raised a number of serious questions about the night of his death and has put the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office under an increased wave of scrutiny as more national media outlets are jumping on the story, most recently seen on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Authorities are investigating a report that a student there warned the principal of impending violence similar to that depicted in the movie "The Purge."
Saints cornerback Champ Bailey has played for more than a handful of playoff teams during a career that has seen him selected to 12 Pro Bowls.
Police say a 56-year-old Lafayette man walking behind a dump truck died when the truck hit him as it was backing up.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a proud papa of new baby girl.