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.
The circumstances surrounding the death last March while in the backseat of a sheriff’s cruiser of Victor White III, long a source of dispute by White’s family, have earned an investigation by federal officials.
Lafayette patio home or Port Barre waterfront cottage
With six of the LPSB’s nine members poised for Pat Cooper’s termination, a request was filed Tuesday for a fast-tracked hearing on the federal lawsuit calling for the disqualification of two board members from voting on the matter due to bias.
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Louisiana's Republican Party has filed a complaint against Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu with the Senate's ethics committee about her use of private chartered planes.
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An attorney signs up to run against LPSB's Mark Cockerham, and within a week a lawsuit is filed by a former LPSS employee in an attempt to disqualify him. Coincidence?
According to Gov. Bobby Jindal, President Barack Obama needs to stop talking about “justice” and start murdering people, even if we have to go alone.
A replacement is expected by January to fill the vacancy left when Greg Roberts resigned after allegedly pointing a fake gun at an engineer during a June meeting.
The Ragin’ Cajuns got off to a superb start Saturday night, and the Human Jukebox made the soaked season opener even sweeter for the third-largest crowd in Cajun Field history.
The Louisiana health department will follow a federal judge's order and refrain from immediately penalizing doctors who are trying to comply with a new abortion law that requires them to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital, a spokeswoman said Monday.
Halliburton says it has agreed to pay $1.1 billion to settle a substantial portion of plaintiff claims arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
While bogged down with qualifying candidates last month, Secretary of State Tom Schedler didn’t lose sight of the true endgame coming in November and December.
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A federal jury found attorney Daniel Stanford guilty Friday afternoon on eight of 13 counts for his role in the Curious Goods conspiracy.
Lafayette City-Court Judge Francie Bouillion has served on the bench for two decades since winning a special election to replace Judge Kaliste Saloom when he retired in 1994.
The Houston firm said Friday in its weekly report that 1,575 rigs were exploring for oil and 338 for gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,776 active rigs.
A crew began erecting the 25-foot mini-wheel late morning Friday in anticipation of the evening’s Hottest Night of the Year party at the park.
Frances Boothe of Nunez, who also happens to be filmmaker Stephen Meaux’s grandmother, prepares a cool-weather fave.
The magazine's senior football writer also predicts a break-out year for Saints fourth-year running back Mark Ingram.
New Iberia colonial or Broussard traditional home
The LPSB is poised and ready to move forward with the termination of Pat Cooper following a discussion Thursday with the attorney hired for the investigation of the superintendent, but a decision of this magnitude should be left up to the new board seated in January, especially with three pro-investigation board members bailing out come the new year.
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Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh rested his regulars and watched with delight as Ray Rice's backups ground out 214 yards rushing in a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is set to put the kibosh on the legal ownership of monkeys trained to help the disabled, and the agency wants to know what you think.