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.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
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.
St. Patty's Day crafts
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:
New menu items ready for the Lenten season
The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The vibe of the tribe done modern
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
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.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
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.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
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.
Prepare yourselves for sun