Yesterday at the Baton Rouge Press Club, the chairman of the Louisiana Democrat Party tried to put a happy face on the wreckage his organization has become amid the Obama administration’s performance and its own failings while Kathleen Blanco was the state’s governor from 2004-2008.
Buddy Leach, himself an unsuccessful candidate for governor in 2003 despite some $8.5 million spent on a fourth-place primary showing, told the crowd that “The party is far from being over.”
“There are cycles (of wins and losses) … and we have been in one. It is coming to a conclusion.”
Of course, Leach couldn’t identify a standard bearer for the party. In fact, he couldn’t even name a Democrat politician who will be running for governor. Instead, he bashed Gov. Bobby Jindal and threw out a dozen names of Democrats who might be statewide candidates this fall.
- Al Ater, former Louisiana Secretary of State, a longtime name in North Louisiana Democrat politics from his days in the state legislature but whose tenure in statewide office was controversial and divisive;
- Sen. Sharon Weston Broome, whose appeal outside of North Baton Rouge is nil;
- Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, whose nickname is “Bananas” and can self-finance a campaign but probably isn’t capable of much more than the 14 percent of the vote he got in 2007 when he ran against Jindal;
- Senate President Joel Chaisson II, who has some $350,000 to spend and is rumored as a candidate for attorney general;
- Caroline Fayard, who is running for secretary of state after getting clobbered by Jay Dardenne for Lt. Governor last year and has picked up a couple of major stains for a stupid “I Hate Republicans” remark earlier this year and engaging in a money-laundering scheme during last year’s race by which her wealthy trial attorney father pushed cash through Leach and the state Democrat Party to her campaign in violation of campaign finance laws;
- John Georges, who has loaned his campaign for “a statewide office” $10 million and has already run two outrageously expensive and unsuccessful campaigns for governor (2007) and mayor of New Orleans (2010);
- Tara Hollis of Haynesville, a public school teacher who is running a long-shot campaign for governor and has already lost a PR battle with Jindal;
- Sen. Eric LaFleur, who is unknown outside of Ville Platte;
- Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, who couldn’t beat Bill Jefferson for the congressional seat in New Orleans in 2006 when his corruption was becoming obvious to everyone;
- Sen. Lydia Jackson, whose hypothetical campaign for statewide office would quickly evaporate the minute anyone heard her speak in public (she would attract the comatose vote, but they tend not to turn out or donate money much);
- Sen. Rob Marionneaux, whose multiple ethical problems make him unelectable anywhere but in his district; and
- Terrebonne Parish Council Chairwoman Arlanda Williams, who isn’t exactly a household name.
A great stable that isn’t, though Leach didn’t leave too many potential Democrat candidates out. That group is pretty much all they’ve got and there isn’t a single one of them who looks like he or she could get more than 45 percent of the vote against a generic Republican for statewide office.
There has been a great deal of discussion about the state of the Democrat Party in Louisiana, a discussion which has gained steam since Leach was named the party’s chairman.
And when Leach could only brag about mayoral seats, parish councils and Cedric Richmond beating Joseph Cao for Jefferson’s old congressional seat, plus trotting out his list of unelectables yesterday, it’s clear that not only is his party over for now but he hasn’t the faintest idea how to get it started again.