Wednesday, June 15, 2011
A middle school special-ed teacher from Haynesville has her eye on the most unlikely prize — the governor’s mansion. By Walter Pierce
Tara Hollis is running for governor. Of Louisiana.
My reaction when a campaign announcement from the north Louisiana public school teacher appeared in my inbox in late May was, “Well, she’s crazy.” I even blogged Hollis’ fledgling and, it seemed then almost as much as it seems now, impossible undertaking beneath the headline, “This week in quixotic: North La. teacher running for gov.”
But Tara Hollis is no Don Quixote, and she’s not crazy either. I met her last week when she stopped into The Ind office. She’s smart, articulate, quick with answers and camera-ready. The timing is good for her, too: It’s summer vacation for the Claiborne Parish educator, and she’s spending it motoring up, down and across the state, pressing the flesh, raising funds and building a precious political commodity: name recognition.
This is her first crack at elected office. Yet the self-described conservative Democrat — she’s pro-life, pro-family, pro-business and she voted for Jindal in 2007 — acknowledges that her campaign is, to put it kindly, a long shot.
“I’m not naive about the position or the undertaking. I’m not naive about the amount of work. I’m not going to pretend that I have all the answers,” she says. “But I do know that in talking to the people of this state, this is not just a movement of my parish or the people around me; this is across the board. People are looking for a voice, and no one has stood up to be that voice. And if that’s something that I need to do, then that’s what I’m going to do.”
Hollis says she’s getting supportive signals from the state Democratic Party, too. Last week she attended the Donkey Romp, a swanky annual event in Baton Rouge that serves as a party fundraiser and, no doubt, a salve for a political apparatus rubbed raw by defeat and defection over the last few years. “The Democratic Party has gone through a very rough spot these last couple of years,” Hollis adds. “They are glad to have a face out there that’s trying to invigorate the party and get out to vote.”
She says she and state party Chairman Buddy Leach had a nice, long chat. Whether the Dems will throw money her way remains to be seen.
But Hollis has something on her side: numbers. When Bobby Jindal took office in 2008 unemployment in Louisiana was a shade below 4 percent; now it’s over 8. The state has shed nearly 170,000 jobs during his term. The $1 billion budget surplus he inherited from Kathleen Blanco is now a $1.6 billion deficit.
Jindal will of course make the relativity argument, as he frequently does — that Louisiana has fared well compared to much of the rest of the nation. And that is true.
Maybe Hollis can tap into some of the frustration among many in our state disillusioned by the fact that no matter who occupies the governor’s mansion we remain a bottom feeder — 49th to Mississippi’s 50th — on virtually every meaningful national ranking of health, education and income. Maybe she can get some traction with the metastasized perception that the jet-setting Jindal has been a part-time governor whose national aspirations trump everything else, or his hypocrisy about ethics reform (good for everyone but him) and the federal stimulus (he toured the state passing out stimulus checks disguised as state largesse).
Then again, maybe not.
I’ll say this for Tara Hollis: She has moxie.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
Women sue over sperm mix-up; Romney on campaign trail; Ebola patient was released from hospital and more national and international news for Thursday, October 02, 2014.
State Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, surprised few in the Hub City Wednesday afternoon when he made (semi) official what most of us have known for months: He is running to replace Joey Durel as city-parish president.
Two bedroom town home or three bedroom contemporary home
Let the party begin
Louisiana's first black Republican state senator since Reconstruction — who was a Republican before he was a Democrat before he was a Republican again — is accusing Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of using the black community for votes and providing nothing in return.
LSU's governing board has backed new hospital privatization contracts that give hospital managers greater ease to leave the deal and fewer restrictions about must-have services.
Rachel Hector returns home to cultivate a generation of yoga instructors.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is courting young voters in several appearances across Louisiana this week, talking about her support for legislation that could lower students' college costs.
It is distinctly possible control of the U.S. Senate will hinge on Louisiana, which is why, during the last several months, outside groups have made this the most expensive election in Louisiana history.
A constellation of South Louisiana musical stars descends on Parc Sans Souci to honor an ailing David Egan.
INDStyle Awards 2014 was one for the books; the American Cancer Society took over The Victorian's big tent; and the battle of the sexes was alive and well for Walk a Runway's Christmas fundraiser.
The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra teams up with choreographer Clare Cook for a modern take on a Stravinsky classic.
Local food pantries begin seasonal drives
A girl's best fashion friend
Stage 4 vet takes on cancer and reminds us all what it really means to get involved.
Creative living flourishes at Downtown’s artist hub
Four bedroom cottage or four bedroom traditional
Bold looks for fall define INDStyle Awards 2014
Statement pieces for the season
The gents venture out
Project Front Yard has been launched to help us change our image and our habits.
Alleged victim is a Navy vet with brain trauma resulting from a car accident three decades ago.
Is Mary fading as Vitter solidifies his lock on the fourth floor?
Richard Buswell was sentenced Tuesday to more than 10 years in prison for his role in an investment scheme that defrauded his clients of more than $6 million.
The Latin Music Festival returns to Parc International this Saturday, Oct. 4, from noon to 10 p.m.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has renegotiated contracts for six LSU hospital privatization deals, hoping to reach a compromise with federal health officials that will keep Medicaid dollars flowing to the privatized patient services.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is defending her record on gun rights, seeking to rebut sharp criticism from the NRA in a state where the right to bear arms is given special constitutional protection.