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."
Mike Harson's coffers show the advantage of incumbency.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council will vote on an ordinance for final adoption Tuesday that, if approved, would give the city the green light to take over a stretch of Verot School Road from the state Department of Transportation and Development.
The Louisiana Association of Educators filed a lawsuit challenging the $60 million in spending through Louisiana's public school financing formula.
He's been out of office for nearly a decade, but former U.S. Sen. John Breaux is back on the campaign trail, urging voters to support his one-time colleague, Democrat Mary Landrieu.
The unresolved fate of the ashes left behind after Ebola waste was destroyed in Texas highlights the problem U.S. hospitals and communities could face in disposing of their own waste.
While much of the talk was about whether New Orleans could win a big game — or any game, for that matter — on the road, the conversation in the Saints' locker room was about something completely different.
State health officials told thousands of doctors planning to attend a tropical diseases meeting this weekend in New Orleans to stay away if they have been to certain African countries or have had contact with an Ebola patient in the last 21 days.
Republicans are calling on Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu to apologize after she suggested Thursday that President Barack Obama's deep unpopularity in the South is partly tied to race.
Compared to the rest of the country, Lafayette has it pretty good when it comes to the cost and speed of our Internet.
Hello Kitty turns 40; police ambush suspect caught; Knicks surprise Cavs and more national and international news for Friday, October 31, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
The Lafayette City-Parish Council will consider on Tuesday a revised plan to the transform a block in Downtown Lafayette into a mixed-use residential-retail-commercial development that doesn’t include giving title to the property to the Lafayette Public Trust Finance Authority, an arrangement the council rejected earlier this month.
Trying to combat the national undertones of Louisiana's U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu is traveling the state this week on a sort of pork celebration tour, telling voters about the projects and aid she's delivered to Louisiana.
Ever thought that big, pink Gulf coast shrimp you ordered at the restaurant or bought from the store didn't taste juicy or salty enough? Maybe it wasn't from the Gulf.
The state treasurer won't sign financial documents needed for $200 million in borrowing or for a refinancing of existing debt until he believes they accurately explain the surplus disagreement.
Bill Cassidy voted for 97 percent of the bills signed by Barack Obama.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is joining South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on her campaign bus tour.
A New Iberia man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a 4-year-old girl and scalding her 3-year-old brother.
A district judge decided Wednesday against sanctioning attorney/school board candidate Dawn Morris for her behind-the-scenes role in a lawsuit against Mark Cockerham.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration may have improperly destroyed records in the state employee health insurance program, in the middle of a heavily-criticized rewrite of benefit plans.
Paper cites the former ADA's "experience as a prosecutor, his demonstrated integrity, and his ideas for reshaping the [DA's] office" in urging voters to support Keith Stutes Nov. 4.
Louisiana officials have sent a letter to the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene un-inviting members of the group who have recently been to ebola-affected West African countries from attending the group’s annual conference in New Orleans next week.
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have to find a way to win on the road if they plan to take over first place in the NFC South.
"It is obvious that Louisiana economic performance has not outperformed the South or the United States as a whole and, in fact, has substantially underperformed..."
A state district judge said he will rule Friday on a preliminary injunction to keep some charter schools from receiving $60 million through Louisiana's public school financing formula.