Democratic Louisiana flag
Volume 1, Number 31
By Democrats For Democrats
November 9, 2010
Learning the Right's Lesson

November 2 was not a good day for Louisiana Democrats, as Republicans held on to one of the state's seats in the U.S. Senate, claimed the lieutenant governor's office, and held onto their 6-1 advantage in the state's U.S. House delegation.

The bright spot of the day was Cedric Richmond retaking the Second Congressional District seat from Republican Joseph Cao. It was odd, though, since Cao actually voted in favor of the Affordable Care Act while the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, Charlie Melancon, had opposed it.

My hope is that the results of this election will put an end to the practice of Democratic candidates running against their base, trying to win over 'moderate' Republicans while counting on our party's base to suck it up and turn out to vote.

It's an old game that has lived beyond its expiration date. It does not fool anyone except, perhaps, those candidates who pay large sums of good money to consultants who push this failed strategy on them.

In case you have not noticed, Republicans like to remind voters that candidates with the "D" behind their names are Democrats. This is shocking news, no doubt, to some Democratic candidates, but it is not dirty politics.

Republicans have understood for quite sometime that the path to electoral success begins by energizing the party's base. Some Democrats have persisted in the belief that depressing the base and distancing themselves from our party and its accomplishments will somehow lead to victory.

Tuesday's results were a reminder that this strategy does not work and has no future in Louisiana politics. I'm looking forward to 2012 when we can bring President Obama into Louisiana to campaign and, using the newly configured Congressional district map, get Democrats elected to no less than half of the six districts that will be in play that year.

I'm also looking forward to the 2011 statewide elections where Governor Lil' Shit has committed himself to a campaign strategy of gutting higher education and healthcare and selling it all as progress.

If he proceeds along that path, I predict right here and now that Jindal is going to have fewer takers of that idea than Charlier Melancon did last Tuesday. Maybe Jindal does want to succeed a black man, only it's Michael Steele instead of Barack Obama?

Both stories in the right hand column continue onto the Louisiana D2D blog. Click the links at the bottom of each article to read the rest.

Click the Democratic Louisiana banner at the top of the page to visit the archive.

Thanks for reading!

Mike Stagg, Editor

RootsCampLA — the first annual gathering of grassroots organizers from across the state — will take place on Friday and Saturday in Alexandria.

The event will take place at the EconoLodge located at 2716 North MacArthur Blvd. in Alexandria. Admission is $25.

For more information, email the conference organizers here:

RootsCampLA <contact@eventbrite.com>

Hope to see you there!

Melancon's Loss Shows Democrats Need to Offer a Choice, Not an Echo

Louisiana Democrats pondering the drubbing we've been taking in federal elections lately (with a few prominent exceptions) should read conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly's 1964 book "A Choice, Not an Echo."

In that book, written as an endorsement of Barry Goldwater's bid to win the Republican nomination for the presidency that year, Schlafly called on her party to return to its conservative roots and declared that the party would find electoral success would only come if it embraced a separate identity from Democrats. Republicans, she said, needed to stop being the 'me, too' party.

Charlie Melancon's crushing defeat on November 2 should send a clear message to Louisiana Democrats. The message is not, as Republican mouthpieces would have us believe, 'drop dead.' It is not that the party and our candidates have no future in Louisiana politics.

The message is that Democrats will not win elections again in Louisiana unless and until our candidates stop runing as though we are the "me, too" party of Louisiana, The road to electoral success for Louisiana Democrats will open up when Louisiana Democrats stop trying to sell ourselves as Republican Lite.

The message from last week's election was clear. Republicans know who their candidates are and they are not going to settle for anything less than the 'real thing' — even when that 'real thing' has a personal history that flies in the face of much of what that party once stood for as David Vitter's personal history and the way he's managed his Senate office do. Republicans know they want that real thing. Only some Democrats (and their consultants) think Republicans are willing to accept imitations.

Charlie Melancon is a good man. He is, in fact, many of the things David Vitter once claimed to be — particularly the part about being a devoted family man. But, Charlie who ran as a Democrat, did everything he could to distance himself from his party and its core constituents of African-Americans and activists who have repeatedly demonstrated a willingness — make that an eagerness — to work on behalf of Democratic candidates who will at least make a modicum of effort to align themselves with the party.

That record speaks for itself in presidential election years where, since 1996, no national Democratic ticket has spent significant money in Louisiana after the nominating convention and yet those activists somehow manage to produce vote totals of 40% and upward. Melancon got 38% of the vote against Vitter. He lost core Democratic voters by running against the party and away from its activist base.

Charlie's campaign never reached out to the party's base in any meaningful way. In fact, his campaign insisted on running away from his president, his party and our signature issue of health care reform via the Affordable Care Act. Those actions were at the core of his defeat. Anyone who paid any attention to the campaign knows that Vitter's campaign focused on tying Melancon to the very things he sought to distance himself from, all of which were things that made Charlie look like a Democrat.

It Started With The Affordable Care Act

Charlie's problems started with healthcare reform, which President Obama signed into law in March of this year as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Melancon wanted nothing to do with it. He stayed away from it as much as possible. He avoided opportunities to speak in support of the issue in 2009, when they bill was being shaped and the opposition to the bill in the form of the Tea Party shouting matches erupted.

There was an opportunity then for leadership in helping define the issue. Senator Mary Landrieu did some work on that then, taking part in a televised forum on healthcare reform organized by the Lafayette Parish Democratic Executive Committee that ran in three markets (Shreveport, Lafayette and Lake Charles). Melancon was invited to participate. He refused.

Senator Landrieu made clear that she opposed the public option that was then still part of the discussion, but spoke in support of other aspects of the legislation such as health insurance exchanges, expansion of Medicaid, and tax credits for small businesses.

(Click here to read the rest of this story)

News Flash! Jindal has 'oystered' ethics!

Ethics, the signature issue of The Ethics Govenor™ has gone the way of oyster beds off the east coast of Louisiana. Like the oyster beds, ethics enforcement has been killed by Governor Bobby Jindal.

Like the oyster beds, the death of ethics enforcement was said not to have been intentional. Although there were warnings early on that Jindal was mistaken in his approach to ethics reform, he has sealed the records dealing with his oyster-cide by way of fresh water diversion. So, no clear comparison of the two deaths can yet be made. As was the case with the oysters, though, Jindal said he was really trying to save ethics enforcement when he killed it.

The Advocate and the Times Picayune report that on Monday a state district court judge in Baton Rouge ruled that Jindal's 2008 ethics reform package actually stripped the State Board of Ethics for Elected Officials of its ability to collect fines levied on candidates who do not comply with the state's campaign finance law.

According to the T-P, State District Judge William Morvant sided with lawyer Gray Sexton, a former ethics administrator, who argued the board has no authority to penalize former New Orleans-area state Senate candidate Shawn Barney for allegations he didn't properly follow campaign finance laws.

Under Morvant's ruling, staff for  the Louisiana Ethics Administration office still can assess campaign finance reporting fines if a candidate doesn't file a required report on time. But if a candidate chooses not to pay and challenges the assessment, a ruling on whether the candidate owes the fines and penalties and how large they should be will be made by administrative law judges -- not the 11-member ethics board.

“It’s going to hamstring the ability of the Ethics Board to function even more so than the prior legislation has,” Morvant said from the bench. “If the goal was to streamline this and make its function easier, it sorely missed its point.”

Attorneys challenging the board’s authority relied on a 2008 law change that transferred power to decide allegations of campaign finance violations to administrative law judges just as it did to charges related to violations of state ethics laws.

The law, pushed by the Jindal administration,  gave the Ethics Board investigatory and prosecutorial authority while transferring judicial power to special ethics adjudicatory panels.

Jindal's Budget Cuts to Kill More Jobs than Drilling Moratorium

All summer long, Louisiana residents were subjected to non-stop lying and yammering by Governor Bobby Jindal and his allies about the potential threat to Louisiana jobs posed by the deep water drilling moratorium. Although the job losses never materialized, the mere thought of them had Jindal &amp; Co. speaking in apocalyptic terms about Louisiana's economic future in the wake of the temporary drilling shutdown.

In contrast to his previous agitation regarding the possibility of job losses, the Governor seems eerily serene as he prepares to unleash new rounds of state budget cuts that will cut services and cost jobs in both the public and private sector.

In a note to supporters last week, Jindal reiterated his opposition to any form of tax increases. He also took credit for all good news in the state and laid blame for any bad news at the feet of others. That's just the way he rolls.

But a funny thing happened while Jindal was on an out-of-state jaunt: some inconvenient facts escaped into public view.

Turns out that the Governor's plan to close Earl K. Long Medical Center in Baton Rouge will cost about 400 people their jobs. That fact came via testimony from the hospital's CEO before the Louisiana Senate Finance Committee. That number is significant on a couple of scores.

First, according to the LSU Health System's 2008 annual report (PDF — the most recent one available), there were 1,266 full-time employees at the hospital. So, about one-third of the people working at the hospital will lose their job as a result of the shut down. Ostensibly the hospital is being closed to save money, but LSU VP for the Health System, Dr. Fred Cerise has pointed out that the shift of services to private hospitals will actually drive up the cost of Medicaid services in the Baton Rouge area due to higher reimbursement rates the hospitals are being promised by the state to take the increased patient loads resulting from the closure.

The other reason that the job loss number is significant is that it is larger than the actual number of jobs affected by the deep water drilling moratorium. The Baton Rouge Area Foundation was selected to administer a $100 million fund created to help those who lost their jobs as a result of the moratorium.

Fewer that 400 workers applied for the funds.

So, this single example of Jindal's focus on dismantling public institutions will have a larger negative impact on jobs than the moratorium he so passionately excoriated, yet his allies have not rented any large arenas to rally the populace against the extermination of these jobs.

More Job Losses Are Coming

(Click here to continue reading this article)

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