by Elliott Stonecipher
Barring an upset as shocking as President Harry Truman’s victory over Thomas E. Dewey in 1948, tomorrow’s election will end a remarkable era in Louisiana government and politics. Should U. S. Senator Mary Landrieu lose her campaign for a fourth term, our state will be without a Democratic Party member in the upper house since Rutherford B. Hayes was elected President by the Electoral College in 1876.
Democrat James B. Eustis was also elected that year, to serve Louisiana in the U. S. Senate. Since that balloting 138 years ago, at least one member of the Democratic Party has represented Louisiana in the U. S. Senate. Perhaps even more dramatically put, during the 122-year period from the 1882 election of Democrat Randall L. Gibson to the 2004 election of Republican Senator David Vitter, both U. S. Senators from Louisiana were Democrats.
I am included among those who remember one-party Louisiana. I am also among those who believe democracy fares exceedingly poorly in such condition. Regardless, the expected outcome in tomorrow’s election means Louisiana will have no Democrat elected to any statewide office, and only one – 2nd District Congressman Cedric Richmond – among the six members of our delegation in the U. S. House of Representatives.
In the absence of a top-to-bottom rebuilding, the Democratic Party here and in many other states in the South will head even further down the road the Republican Party traveled after Civil War Reconstruction.
Following tomorrow’s election, much will be written about the panoply of related issues. For now, I personally find the perspective of those from outside Louisiana more than merely interesting. Over the past weeks, I have benefited from being interviewed by many national reporters as they spent time here to better understand and report on this election. An excellent example is my time discussing this with Richard Fausset, the New York Times Bureau Chief in Atlanta.
Richard’s work appears on the front-page of the Times today, and I heartily recommend it to you.