Alex's Outlook

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Louisiana Gives GOP the Finger - Again

In the Louisiana governor's runoff race, there were two candidates. One was a 32-year-old Indian-American (as in from India) who eliminated waste and inefficiency in the state medical system to turn a $400 million deficit into a $200 million surplus; who had a concrete proposal for every problem facing the state that came down to lower taxes and "good government."

His opponent was a 60-year-old former lieutenant governor who had no concrete proposal for anything; rather, she promised "blue-ribbon committes" to "study" every problem brought to her. Her agenda was smaller classrooms, more education spending and no tax hikes.

Kathleen Blanco, the 60-year-old, defeated Bobby Jindal, the 32-year-old, for Louisiana's governorship. How that exactly happened baffles me. Louisiana elected an old party hack to push the same policies that Louisiana Democrats, and Republican Mike Foster have been pushing for as long as anyone can remember. Way to go, Cajuns! (Am I starting to sound like Howard Dean?)

Louisiana is a depressing anomaly among Deep South states these days - it seems like every time the Republicans increase their grip on the South, Louisiana dents a Southern Republican sweep. That happened last year when Mary Landrieu pulled out a 52-48 win against Suzanne Terrell. Incidentally, Jindal lost to Blanco by the very same margin.

Louisiana has a substantial black population which voted reliably Democrat (despite Jindal's endorsement by numerous prominent black organizations and officials), and its whites are not as polarized to the Republicans as, say, Mississippi's. The result is that any statewide Republican in Louisiana has a steep hill to climb. The Democrats' 90 percent support among blacks, however, is unrealistic; the younger generation of blacks is significantly more independent than the Civil Rights generation, although still heavily Democrat.

Until Louisiana's whites are somehow pulled to the GOP, or the blacks' ironclad support of Democrats is corroded, Louisiana will remain a Democratic bastion in an increasingly conservative Republican region, at least as far as governor/Senate elections are concerned.

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