Monday, April 16, 2007

Democrats: Third and goal from the 50

John Breaux doesn't want the gubernatorial campaign to be about citizenship, and he likewise doesn't want to be in court just weeks prior to the election. He ain't running for governor.
Mitch Landrieu wants to "finish the job he started four years ago," and will run for a second term as Lt. Governor. He ain't running for governor.
Now what, Democrats? Who carries the party's mail against the juggernaut that is becoming Bobby Jindal? Choices are gettin' fewer, and so are the prospects of a united party in the upcoming '07 chase for the mansion.
With Breaux and Landrieu sitting on the sidelines, that leaves only Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and New Orleans "activist" Rev. Raymond Brown as the only announced Democrats firmly in the race. And, with the party's self-imposed rule of not endorsing a single candidate if multiples are in the contest, it looks like the rudder has not only come off the ship, the wheel's been ripped off and tossed overboard.
There are alternatives in the netherworld of Louisiana politics, ala Democratic, but those are singularly unattractive. Perhaps the second most sought-after candidate (behind Breaux and ahead of Landrieu) was U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon. He reportedly was approached in Washington during Mardi Gras season, but gracefully declined. We say gracefully but, if the truth is known, he most likely was muscularly influenced by the national party. You see, Democrat Melancon was elected in a district which has favored Republicans for many year. Billy Tauzin had represented the district, and it was thought his son would continue the name and party tradition. But, up popped the devil in the form of Melancon, and that was a single seat the national party cherished. In all liklihood, a successful Melancon run for the governor's seat in his home state would have opened the door for another Republican to move into the D.C. pool of Republicans on the House side, and that was something Pelosi and Party could not tolerate.
Suffice it to say, Melancon's out and staying that way.
Other hopefuls with more than a pitance of name recognition who would certainly consider a state party courting are former U.S. Rep. Chris John and former state attorney general Richard Iyeoub. To run under the auspices of the party, though, would be sorta stretching the field even more. John, in his last campaign, failed to push now-Sen. David Vitter into a runoff. Ieyoub's last try turned sour when he failed to edge past Kathleen Blanco into a runoff with the same Jindal he would be tackling in a race which is beginning to show an amazing lack of Democratic enthusiasm.
Like it or not, Democrats are going to have to take a long, hard look at Campbell. The oft-described populist has a solid record on the PSC, and some of his issues have rung well with the overwhelmingly rural constituency across his large district which covers north Louisiana from the Texas to Mississippi lines. Yeah, we know...it's that pesky oil processing tax that seems to throw up the wall between powers that want to be and powers that are, but Democrats have to do more than scratch their watch and wind their behinds if they are to keep Jindal in sight.
State Democrats are facing third and goal from midfield, and it's only April. Imagine where they'll be if July rolls around and there's still no party favorite who has something close to a winning record to place before the voters. Talking to many long-time, hard line Dems, we hear more and more talk of offering up more a sacrifice than a candidate. The question, though, is are the money-givers interested in roast lamb?

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