Most of us have learned over the years that for all the hoopla surrounding elections, it is rare that the outcome yields truly important changes. So, when the election-day / election-night smoke clears, we know to look at the final tallies for less obvious, yet important, results. (I’ve never “read” tea leaves, but have always sensed somehow that election analysis can’t be much different.)
With complete but unofficial returns available for study, here, for your reading enjoyment (?), are some less-than-obvious points of interest, and maybe even importance.
The governor’s race, of course, had all the suspense of watching paint dry. Governor Jindal bludgeoned would-be opponents with a club weighing 11,000,000 or so campaign-account dollars. That he / we / they had no idea who might ultimately be bludgeoned well makes the key point: Jindal’s Titanium Membership status in All Things Republican National Committee provides him access to sources of money hitherto unknown in Louisiana, and that money is no respecter of potential candidates. While Tara Hollis didn’t care how much money Jindal had raised – and was rewarded for that courage with 17.9% of the vote – all the “real” candidates did care, and did hightail it as far away from Jindal, Inc. as they could.
For those of you who heard or read my personal prediction that “Jindal should get two-out-of-three votes,” remember that I don’t know how to read tea leaves: the governor’s 65.8% (unofficial) total made enough historical and demographic sense for me to hazard that guess. Regardless of anything else, high-profile office holders in Louisiana fall on one side or the other of the state’s locked-in, anti-Republican black voters who are 30.3% of our voter registration. Most – 90% plus – of those votes were certain to go anywhere but Jindal, thus he should have been capped at something close to two-thirds. He did not, of course, get a white-only vote, but his white majority was certainly humongous. As one way of recognizing this key election-return effect when you see it, Jindal’s vote percentage was 54% in high-black-registration Caddo Parish, but 78% from Bossier Parish’s notably high white voter registration.
Importantly, a good chunk of Jindal’s $11,000,000 went for the defeat of state senators and a few state representatives who are in his way. In that context, Jindal also intends to “pick” the state senate leader in the new legislature. That is a legal responsibility and duty of state senate members, but at the expense of such constitutional “protections” as checks-and-balances, our governor typically picks who she or he pleases.There is a strong belief among those who should know that Jindal will try to install in that key office the long-time personal friend and political enforcer of Edwin Edwards, former State Representative and now State Senator John Alario. Yes, the same John Alario who was recently identified as benefiting from not one but two state retirements. His long “public service” in the House earned him one retirement check each month, and the other one – his monthly check from the Louisiana Teachers Retirement System – he “earned” by virtue of teaching ONE YEAR back in the 1960s. Neither of those checks should be confused with the third regular check he receives as a now-state senator.
Lt. Governor and Secretary of State
Statewide voter turnout was 36% in the governor’s race, but far fewer voted in these two races: 33.3% for Lt. Governor and 31.3% for Secretary of State. In point of fact, the Lt. Governor’s job has very real importance given Jindal’s national political plans, so yesterday’s vote is a strong political stamp by Jay Dardenne on the process of determining our next governor. “Next” could be relatively soon: Jindal’s early endorsement of Rick Perry for the Republican Party’s presidential nominee could lead to Jindal’s early exit from Louisiana. More likely, at this point, is his move back to D. C. in some other – cabinet? – position for any Republican who might be elected president.
The Secretary of State’s race is unfinished business at this point. If Tom Schedler – ahead as this is written by only a few thousand votes – wins, his strong political alliance with Jay Dardenne is worth noting. Also notable is the fact that his opponent, Jim Tucker, only jumped into this race because he was term-limited in the house, and because a safe state senate seat could not be specifically drawn for him in state senate redistricting. (Since Tucker is one of four-or-five architects of the 2008 political coup which gutted the enforcement of state ethics laws, his being out of elective office would be, in my opinion, a very fitting reward.)
Senate District 39
The effort of Timmy Teepell and Gov. Jindal against political “enemies” in the state legislature was foundational in this campaign. As it now stands, State Senator Lydia Jackson led this primary by about 400 votes – 44% to 43% – over former Senator Greg Tarver. The white candidate, Jim Slagle, got the remaining votes. Turnout was 29.8%, well below the anemic statewide vote of 36.0%.
This race is notable both because Teepell / Jindal backed Tarver – who is, like Alario, an Edwards Era senate and other political leader – and because Tarver is fighting to take political leadership in our area’s black community. The continuing assertion of many politicos in the black community is that Lydia Jackson intends to be Shreveport’s mayor when her time in the senate is over (the upcoming term would be her last), which also serves to provide a place for Glover as he, one year earlier, leaves City Hall via term limits. In the way of all of those plans is Tarver, Glover’s strongest political enemy.
Striking in last night’s television coverage of the outcome of this campaign was Lydia Jackson’s virtual surrender of her election-night victory podium to Mayor Glover. I have yet to figure out how his over-the-top ramble for much of the available TV time benefited Senator Jackson, but it does underscore the other-than-obvious stakes in this race.
Senate District 38
The strength of State Senator Sherri Cheek’s win was one of the election’s surprises. With Teepell / Jindal strongly in opposition to her because she would sometimes though rarely vote against their orders, the content and tone of her opponent’s campaign seemed powerful. But, as the campaign wound down to an actual vote, many of Troy Terrell’s resume points were seriously in doubt, and many of his charges against Ms. Cheek had been exposed as false.
To underscore the strength of this win, Senator Cheek gathered 56% of the vote in her home parish, Caddo, and 61% in the other parish in the district, DeSoto. Turnout was awful, though, at 25.8%.
Senate District 37
In our area’s campaign which was most-watched in other areas of the state, State Representative Jane Smith – one of our state capital’s strongest apologists and all around doers for Jindal – lost badly to Barrow Peacock. With turnout of only 28.3%, Peacock won by more than 2,600 votes, 57.2% to 42.8%.
Tellingly, Peacock did far better in building on his geographical base than did Rep. Smith. With about 53% of the registration on the Caddo side of the Red River, Peacock got 61% of the vote, but on the Bossier side, Rep. Smith tallied a notably lower 53%. The beneficiary of the Hwy. 3132 Extension controversy early in the campaign, Peacock used his own door-to-door shoe leather and $300,000 or so of his own money to erase Rep. Smith’s very strong reliance on, and big bucks fundraising help from, Gov. Jindal, Chief-of-Staff Timmy Teepell and many area politicos with political debts owed to those two.
While Barrow Peacock’s previous campaign losses better prepared him for this race, and while the 3132 Extension serendipity uniquely blessed this effort, all interested eyes will be on him as he faces a Jindal team which now must initially attempt to woo and wow him. As they have often proven over the past four years, they woo and wow for a try or two, but resort quickly to behavior modification via overt and heavy-handed political power.
If Barrow Peacock doubts that fact, he would be well served in asking Senators Cheek and Jackson.Elliott Stonecipher
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