[StBernard] Louisiana Governor Announces She Won't Seek Reelection

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Wed Mar 21 18:42:21 EDT 2007

Louisiana Governor Announces She Won't Seek Reelection

By Chris Cillizza
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 21, 2007; A08

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) announced last night that she
will not seek a second term this November, bowing to a political reality
created by her handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

"I am choosing to do what is best for my state," Blanco said. "I will focus
my time and energy for the next nine months on the people's work, not

Analysts said Blanco's fate had been sealed long before the announcement.

"Katrina just washed away all the good that Governor Blanco has done for the
state of Louisiana," said Donna Brazile, a Louisiana native, political
consultant and campaign manager for Al Gore's 2000 presidential bid.

Attention immediately turned to former senator John Breaux (La.) who is seen
as Democrats' strongest potential candidate against Rep. Bobby Jindal, the
likely Republican nominee.

Breaux roiled Louisiana politics last month when he acknowledged an interest
in running for governor. He said, however, that he would need to meet face
to face with Blanco before making up his mind and would not run if she
remained in the field.

Breaux, who thanked Blanco for her service to the state but made no mention
of his intentions in a statement last night, has reached out to Lt. Gov.
Mitch Landrieu -- the brother of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and another
potential gubernatorial candidate -- to sound out his interest in a bid.

Charlie Cook, a national political analyst and native son of Louisiana, said
it is a "close call" on whether Breaux runs, but he added that recent ads
sponsored by the state Republican Party seeking to raise questions about
Breaux's residency and eligibility for the office may backfire. The
commercials "infuriated" Breaux, according to Cook, and "nudged him toward
getting in."

For much of the past year, Blanco refused to back down from her pledge to
run for reelection, going as far as to publicly reiterate her plans to run
again last week.

Breaux's interest in the race complicated those plans, and many party
insiders argued that Blanco should step aside for the good of the party,
pointing to internal polls that showed her trailing Jindal badly in
hypothetical head-to-head match-ups.

Her acknowledgment of the obvious revealed just how badly Blanco had been
damaged by her much-criticized behavior in the days after Katrina ripped
through her state.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune lambasted Blanco in a November 2005
editorial, saying that the natural disaster "sent Blanco reeling." The paper
wrote, "She came across as at once paralyzed and desperate." Blanco was
named one of the three worst governors in America by Time magazine. She was
berated by members of Congress during testimony on Capitol Hill in late

Meanwhile, Jindal bounced back from his narrow loss to Blanco in 2003 to win
the 1st District House seat vacated by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) in 2004.
Almost from the day of his congressional swearing-in, Jindal made clear he
would seek a rematch in 2007 and formally declared his candidacy in late
January. Jindal will not have the field to himself, however, as state Sen.
Walter Boasso (R) has also declared his candidacy.

A number of other Democrats, including Public Service Commissioner Foster
Campbell, have also announced their intention to run.

Curt Anderson, a consultant for Jindal, said Blanco's retirement will have
little effect on his candidate. "Congressman Jindal is excited about the
prospects of turning Louisiana around and is looking forward to doing just
that," Anderson said. "He has been very straightforward from Day One about
the fact that he is running for governor regardless of who else does."

But, Republicans are clearly concerned by the prospect of a Breaux

The state party has already funded a flight of ads arguing that Breaux is no
longer a Louisiana resident and therefore is ineligible to run for the
state's highest office.

"John Breaux says he might run for governor, but you won't find him in
Louisiana," a narrator says in the ad. "Here's his $3 million mansion in
Maryland, paid for by the millions Breaux earned by selling his influence as
a lobbyist." The commercial displays an aerial image of Breaux's home and
goes on to note that the state constitution requires an individual to be a
resident of the state for the past five years to run for governor. "Breaux
may be wealthy and powerful, but he's not above the law," the ad concludes.

State Democrats believe the eligibility requirement is fungible, especially
when it comes to Breaux, who was born in Crowley, La., and spent more than
three decades representing the state in the House and Senate.

More information about the StBernard mailing list