Democrats Still Trying To Find Footing

There are a few sliver linings for Democrats in Louisiana, a state that leans so far Republican that it sometimes tips over.

The governor, for instance, is a Democrat. The party faithful can likewise find hope in the congressman from New Orleans, especially since he took over a key leadership post in Washington, D.C. Additionally, there are two party officials who were recently placed into national positions of influence.

These are big wins for a party that was reading its own obituary in Bayou State newspapers — over and over — just a few years ago.

But, if political realities are to be embraced, these big wins don’t exactly equate to a new day in Louisiana for Democrats. The odds are still against them, and with the Republicans, when it comes to the Legislature and statewide elections.

Over the past decade, as of March 1 of this year, the Louisiana Democratic Party has lost more than 190,000 voters. By comparison, Republicans added 201,000 new voters during the same period and another 153,000 voters were lumped into the growing ranks of “no party.”

The candidate side of the equation doesn’t look much better. Of the 10 candidates who qualified in the three state House elections on this month’s ballot, only two were Democrats — and one has since dropped out. That this happened in districts where Democrats were at one time competitive doesn’t add much of a positive spin.

As the Louisiana Republican Party reaches one milestone after another, Democrats appear eager to find their footing here. Opportunities, in fact, could be right around the corner.

On the immediate horizon, politicos are watching to see if Democrats can yield a marketable candidate for state treasurer. A special election is slated for the fall and so far formidable names have been difficult to come by.

Attorney Caroline Fayard appeared in many polls last year when she ran for the U.S. Senate — and her name has now been included in at least one poll for treasurer. But that doesn’t mean she’s running.

Supporters say Fayard is fully re-entrenched in her practice and the private sector. While donors and community groups have been approaching her, it doesn’t sound like Fayard, while actively engaged in local and state politics, is taking many steps toward them.

Speculation has turned to Fayard and others with connections to the Big Easy because a Democrat from New Orleans could be well positioned to make the runoff for treasurer. The mayoral contest there — it’ll share ballot space with the treasurer’s election — is sure to drive turnout to the point of making a difference.

The problem is many of the established names from the city’s elected class are engaged with the mayoral race or are running for other municipal seats.

Then there’s Derrick Edwards, an attorney who found himself paralyzed after being injured in a high school football game. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate last year, alongside Fayard. But local Democrats are looking for someone who has a ready base, a fundraising apparatus in place and name recognition that stretches beyond New Orleans and into the surrounding regions.

Which Democrat might run for treasurer will be a question to ask until the qualifying period ends. And that means Democrats need to have a ready answer. (Unless the entire party infrastructure is prepared to completely abandon a statewide seat — something Republican donors in Louisiana would never allow.)

That, of course, turns the conversation toward the Democratic bench. Who’s ready to step up? The party has a strong showing amongst Louisiana mayors and that level has always been ripe for recruitment and talent.

There are Dems in the state Legislature as well who might be ready for prime-time politics, even as many of them readily admit that white Democrats could become an endangered species after the next legislative election cycle. Conservatives are seriously eyeing those seats in 2019 and mini battles are sure to break out sooner than later.

A lengthy rebuilding period may be the only solution for those who want to see Democrats return to at least part of their past glory in the state. But it would be a mistake to rely too much on Gov. John Bel Edwards and Congressman Cedric Richmond, the state’s top elected Democrats.

Edwards is aggressively raising money for re-election while tussling with lawmakers. Richmond is chairing the Congressional Black Caucus while shaking off controversial comments he made recently about a top advisor to President Donald Trump. Dems will simply need to dig deeper if political success in Louisiana is a goal.

Some members of the Democratic State Central Committee are starting to look closely at the party’s structure and how its leadership can be most effective. What comes of that process, which is still in its infancy, will be interesting to watch.

Whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat or a member of another party or no party, these inner workings are important to monitor. Maybe you need to keep tabs on the enemy camp. Maybe you care deeply about the ideology that Dems espouse.

Either way, Louisiana is undeniably a two-party state and voters deserve the best that both parties can provide. Improvements, after all, are always welcome.

SPONSORED: Legatus In Louisiana

The intersection of faith and the workplace can be a challenge to navigate. And yet, there is an undeniable way that faith and values inform

Happy Birthday, Trackers!

— Tuesday 10/17: Steve Duke and Kevin Gallagher — Wednesday 10/18: Paul Hardy, Connie Caldwell, Kodi Wilson and Robert Morris —

The Beltway Beat

— U.S. Sen. John Kennedy to Gov. Edwards: “Top quality health care for our people is extraordinarily important. (No reasonable person has

Angele Davis For The State Senate?

When you run better than expected in a statewide race and pull 41 percent in your own Senate District 16 — against five opponents, one of

LaHistory: When The Majority Leader Vanished

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the strange disappearance of U.S. House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, a proud son of Louisiana. Boggs

Oct. 14: What Happened?

An astounding 86.5 percent of Louisiana’s registered population didn’t vote during this past weekend’s statewide elections. The math is a

POD: One From The Lobbying Corps…

Episode 22 of Season 2 has two guests from Spradely & Spradley, a government relations firm in Baton Rouge. They are Tom and Matt

LOWDOWN VIDEO: Election Zombies & Political Daredevils

We've got election zombies and political daredevils in this latest episode of The LaPolitics Lowdown. See how Louisiana lost a half

MEDIA SNAPSHOTS: About Last Night…

SPONSORED: Tax Reform (& A Tax Cocktail)

Tax reform is one of the nation’s most polarizing issue. The topic is so vast and complicated that few even attempt to understand the

You Should Be Listening To The Supremes

Can you name one of the justices currently serving on the United States Supreme Court? If you cannot, you’re among 57 percent of likely

The Beltway Beat

— Lindsay Lohan’s parents want a lawsuit filed against U.S. Sen. John Kennedy for the “mini-bar” comment. Missed that one? Watch

Happy Birthday, Trackers!

— Tuesday 10/10: Late Supreme Court Justice George Eustis (1796) — Wednesday 10/11: Rick Boudreaux — Thursday 10/12: The one and

Political Chatter

— RELEASE: “During the October meeting on Thursday, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission opted not to vote on a proposal to give

Early Voting Analysis: “Not Much To Say”

The following words and thoughts belong to Ed Chervenak, the director of the UNO Survey Research Center… An analysis of the early voting

Jeff Landry’s New Chief Of Staff

Lynnel Ruckert, the former chief of staff to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, has been hired by Attorney General Jeff Landry to fill the

POD: The Jambalaya Episode

John Diez, the PAC director for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, stops by to discuss what you need to make the perfect

LaHistory: An Unfriendly Month For Governors

Since 1828 there have been seven Louisiana governors who have passed away during the month of October, either while in office or later in

LOWDOWN: The Time Thibodaux Was Governor

Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser reveals a private conversation he had with Gov. John Bel Edwards about his future election plans... We meet

SPONSORED: Experience Is The Best Teacher

Experience is the best teacher. Louisiana-native Emily Bacque has learned the truth behind this adage after much experience in the

ICYMI: The “Next Frontier” For Public Records

The general counsel for the state’s premier newspaper and magazine association believes that the “next frontier for public records law in

Happy Birthday, Trackers!

— Tuesday 10/03: Former Congressman Charlie Melancon, David Crigler, and John Hill — Wednesday 10/04: Former Gov. Buddy Roemer, former

The Beltway Beat

— Majority Whip Steve Scalise returns to Congress and speaks on the floor. WATCH — The Scalise 60 Minutes interview (his first after he

Political Chatter

— His former colleagues in the Legislature probably won’t dig it much, but John Schroder’s new (and likely final) campaign commercial will

POD: Dardenne Goes To The Hoop

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne is this week’s guest on The LaPolitics Report podcast. He reveals how close he came to walking