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."
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.