Marc Morial? Could Jindal Actually Get That Lucky?

If there’s a funnier site in Louisiana than the Daily Suckerfish, I haven’t seen it. And today’s entry over there is a truly high moment even by their standards.

Get this – in a piece throwing out names for candidates to run against Gov. Bobby Jindal, they toss out Kathleen Blanco (boooo-ring, and ain’t gonna happen), and…

Marc Morial.

No, really. They actually went there.

The other “ex-” is a much longer shot, but his name has repeatedly surfaced as a possible counter-weight to Jindal. Former State Senator, and New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial has also been mentioned in Democratic circles as someone that has the drive, if not the money or the plan, to take Jindal on in the fall. Even the thought of Morial taking his act onto the Statewide stage makes some shudder and others giggle. He personally dodged the ethical problems that plagued his last New Orleans administration, although his brother Jacques did plead guilty to tax evasion charges around the time of Marc’s exit from office. He also failed to convince New Orleanians that he deserved a third term (just as his father had failed to do). But Morial’s work as President of the Urban League has expanded his political base and made him a nationally renowned figure. To note, the simple premise of an African-American Democrat winning statewide continues to be unlikely. White Louisianians, Democratic or not, have avoiding supporting black Democrats from New Orleans before, strongly turning Bill Jefferson and Cleo Fields away from the Governor’s mansion by large margins. Nevertheless, times may have changed, and Morial might relish a free shot at Jindal that would quickly land him back in the mix in Louisiana as a definite power-player, win or lose.

They did attempt to head off the scoffing with this caveat…

Neither of these Louisiana “ex-‘s” are likely candidates, and certainly aren’t likely winners. But in this swirling vacuum of Democratic politics in Louisiana, maybe we’re due for a blast from the past.

I’ll say this; I expected that the Democrats in Louisiana were going to go one of two ways in finding a candidate against Jindal, and said so. I expected them to find somebody who could self-finance, and when it was disclosed that John Georges had lent himself $10 million to make a “statewide” run, that would indicate he might be such a candidate. But the other option would be to find somebody who could play the race card and in so doing drive black turnout for all the down-the-ballot races they figure to get mauled in otherwise – and in particular the state legislative races.

Blanco would be a kinda-sorta self-financer, since she still has a couple of million dollars sitting in a leftover campaign account and she could use that to fund a race of sorts against Jindal. But if she was getting in, I think she would already have done so. I think she’d be actively raising money, and she isn’t.

But if you’re going to go the race-card route, knowing you’re going to get killed by Jindal but hoping you can use a divisive, hot race to juice the turnout of your base to maybe stave off a disaster in the legislative races, there are a few names you could plug in as your candidate. Cleo Fields is certainly one. Karen Carter Peterson is another, and somebody who would probably jump at the chance.

Outside of those two? Yeah. Probably Morial. And he might actually show better than Fields or Peterson since he’s a bit more polished than they are.

On the other hand, Marc Morial is an oppo-researcher’s wet dream. Osama Bin Laden didn’t leave behind an intel treasure trove like this guy did in New Orleans – in fact, for a long time the buzz in New Orleans was that Jim Letten was eventually going to get an indictment on Morial to go with his brother’s guilty plea and the indictments of a few of his honchos in City Hall from back in the day. And the fact Morial is a big buddy of President Obama’s would enable Jindal’s people to make the Louisiana gubernatorial race a referendum on Obama rather than the governor; that’s the kind of fantasy scenario any campaign manager would kill for.

Which is why the idea that Morial would be the Democrats’ guy is hilarious. He’d have little or nothing to gain from such a race unless Obama would promise him something in Washington as a carrot for afterwards. What Obama could offer him that beats the presidency of the Urban League and wouldn’t require Senate confirmation – and the kind of race Morial would have to run against Jindal likely would make him unconfirmable in a Senate with 47 Republicans – is a real question. Unless, of course, he’s worn out his welcome at that gig, and I haven’t heard anything to that effect. One would imagine Morial would have to step down at his current job to run against Jindal; it’s hard to see him doing that so he can be a sacrificial lamb this fall.

But here it is almost mid-May, and they’re dredging up mediocre politicians from 10 years ago as potential challengers against a sitting governor with $10 million in the bank. If you’re a lefty in Louisiana, you’ve got to be half-crazed by now.

Throwing Marc Morial’s name out there would be proof of that.



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