Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu is far and away the frontrunner in this Saturday’s election for the next mayor of New Orleans, with some political pundits even predicting he might win in the primary. And with The Big Easy being the Queen City of the South, there is huge interest in the outcome — but even more so in this election. A Landrieu victory may be the key to picking the next Louisiana governor.
New Orleanians feel the election cannot come soon enough, whoever ends up winning. The current mayor will go down in the annals of the Crescent City as one of the most dysfunctional public officials in the city’s history. And for New Orleans, that’s really saying a lot. From his “Chocolate City” comments to his response of “keeping the brand out there” for the country’s highest murder rate, Ray Nagin has successfully proven the truth of the Peter Principal. Either by design or incompetence, C. Ray just doesn’t get it, and the city has suffered greatly.
Landrieu lost a close race to Nagin four years ago but seems primed and strongly favored to come back a victor this time around barring any unforeseen circumstances. So assuming he wins, Landrieu would resign as lieutenant governor in early May, and the process to replace him would kick in. The governor picks a replacement, with the Legislature’s concurrence, who serves for a matter of months until a special election takes place in the fall. So the Jindal pick would hold office for about five months. If Landrieu’s replacement wants to run for a full term, he or she would have a short jump start to keep the job.
Normally the state’s second spot doesn’t attract that much interest. The lieutenant governor’s duties center around important but perfunctory tasks: cutting lots of ribbons and encouraging tourism and the arts. When I held the secretary of state’s post back in the 1980s, I often joked about the duties of the second in charge. Bobby Freeman held the lieutenant governor’s post, and was chagrined when I would say: “Here’s what the lieutenant governor does each day: He gets up in the morning, has his coffee, then calls the Governor’s Mansion to see if per chance the governor died the night before. If he didn’t, the lieutenant governor is free to go fishin’ or play bourré for the day.”
But the national ambitions of Gov. Bobby Jindal have put a whole new slant on the number two job. Just last week, Newsweek was touting Jindal as a strong possibility for vice president in 2012. If the Democrats continue to slip and the Republicans regain the White House, Jindal should at least be a shoo-in for a major cabinet position. And that would mean the Louisiana lieutenant governor would take over the top spot and be primed for two more terms. So the lieutenant governor’s job now becomes all the more attractive to a number of ambitious Louisiana politicos.
A number of Republicans are already expressing interest to the governor for an appointment, but close observers don’t give Jindal’s potential pick that much credence. The short time frame gives such a pick too little time to effectively build a base of support, particularly when a number of major present and former statewide officials will give the race a good look. And so far, Jindal’s track record has not been particularly good when he supports a candidate.
On the Republican side, two statewide officials are definitely giving the office strong consideration. For them, it’s a “free shot,” for if they should lose, they still hold on to their present positions. Secretary of State Jay Dardenne is weighing the race as well as Treasurer John Kennedy. Both have good reputations and can point to significant improvements in their respective offices. They both would like to be governor, and see the lieutenant governor’s spot as a way to extend their political base.
Both Dardenne and Kennedy have been independent of the governor, and Kennedy has even been quite aggressive in pushing a separate statewide agenda from Jindal. But you can bet they will be in lock step with the ambitious chief executive if they have a chance to move up to the top spot.
So who’s on the Democratic side? Let’s see….oh, yes. There is a former two-term lieutenant governor who received high marks in the job and used it as a springboard to becoming governor. She presently has a war chest of some $3 million dollars banked to use for a campaign. That’s right, Kathleen Blanco is rested and ready! She is working on a book about her time in public life that should be timed well for a future campaign.
Jindal was out of state 41 days last year. And as national attention increases for Jindal, his national travel will continue to increase. When he’s gone, the lieutenant governor is acting governor. It would be quite a scenario to watch a Jindal-Blanco relationship in action at the Capitol in the years to come.
A spicy race for lieutenant governor will increase interest in already busy fall elections that are less than nine months away. And the winner will immediately become the favorite to replace Jindal whenever he finishes his term or moves on to bigger and better things. So to see if the first step in this scenario takes off, keep an eye on the New Orleans Mayor’s race this weekend.
Jim Brown is a former Louisiana state representative, secretary of state and insurance commissioner. His weekly column, available at www.jimbrownla.com, appears in numerous newspapers and Web sites throughout the South.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday, April 21, 2014:
Monday's Blogs from the Bog!
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
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.
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.