Louisiana’s Democrats Have Gone Completely Off The Rails

A release put out this morning by new Louisiana Democrat Party chair Karen Carter Peterson makes clear that the good ole boy John Breaux/Edwin Edwards Louisiana Democrat Party is dead and gone, and in its place is…something else.

New Louisiana Democratic Party (LDP) Chair Karen Carter Peterson has named a new interim management team to lead the party forward during the first months of the new administration.

Chair Peterson has named Stephen Handwerk as the party’s interim executive director. Johnny Anderson and Mike Stagg will share communications duties for the party. Anderson will direct faith-based and community outreach efforts, while Stagg will focus on developing the party’s communications and messaging capabilities.

The changes were presented to the Executive Committee of the LDP State Central Committee last Wednesday. That committee unanimously approved the appointments. The Democratic National Committee approved the appointments earlier today.

“I am proud to announce this new transitional management team for our party,” Chair Peterson said. “Like our new Executive Committee, this team reflects the diversity and strength of our party. Each of the appointees brings a special skillset to their jobs that respond to our party’s needs. All three have worked in campaigns at all levels. They are passionate, committed Democrats. They are, in short, the kind of people we will need to restore and rebuild our party’s political vitality going forward.”

Handwerk is an interesting choice as ED of the state party, if winning elections is what Peterson actually wants to attempt to do. From the bio given of him in this morning’s release…

Stephen Handwerk is a Lafayette business man who operates a web-based communications group. He’s now serving in his third term as a member of the Lafayette Democratic Parish Executive Committee. He’s a past member of the LDP State Central Committee and the state party Executive Committee. He has also served as a director of the National Stonewall Democrats. Handwerk has worked as a consultant on successful Democratic campaigns in Louisiana and across the country. His involvement in Democratic politics at the local, state and federal has given him keen insights into the traits of effective political organizations that he will bring to bear in his new role as the party’s executive director.

Stonewall Democrats, in case you’re not aware, is an organization marrying the gay rights agenda with Democrat politics. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, other than if you go to their website you’ll find Barney Frank plastered all over it – and if there’s a national political figure less popular than Barney Frank with people in Louisiana it would be a little difficult to figure out who it might be.

Here’s what Handwerk looks like on TV, in case he’s got to do media appearances (from the Democrat convention in 2008)…

Not a moonbat at all.

He has his own YouTube channel for some show called BlueMondays – if that title doesn’t perfectly set the tone for the Louisiana Democrats, nothing does – which is a series of bitchings about fascist Republicans and the American Legislative Exchange Council and so on. Yeah, yeah, we do that stuff here about Democrats daily, but we’re also not running candidates for anything.

Handwerk also used to write a blog for the Lafayette Advertiser, but it went away about four years ago.

But Stagg, who’s one of the two new communications guys, does a current blog. And it’s a doozy. It’s the typical left-wing Louisiana Dem stuff about how education reform is the end of the world, how Louisiana doesn’t have a problem with legacy lawsuits, how raising taxes is the panacea for the state’s budget woes and so forth.

He’s not much for winning arguments, either, as this beatdown at the hands of Lafayette PR consultant Carol Ross on KPEL-FM talk radio indicated.

Stagg’s rhetoric isn’t exactly what you’re looking for from a PR standpoint. Here, for example, is a bit of what he wrote about Rep. Kirk Talbot’s bill incentivizing rich people and companies to provide scholarships for kids to attend private schools…

Louisiana celebrates it’s bicentennial this year and — though our state has a long and colorful history of shenanigans — one would be hard pressed to find a more reckless piece of legislation than HB-969 (PDF) by Rep. Kirk Talbot of Jefferson Parish.

The bill is part of the great Jindal public education funding raid that includes grabbing public tax dollars and diverting them into the coffers of private schools in the form of vouchers.

HB-969 is more brazen by an order of magnitude. According to the Legislature’s digest of the bill (PDF), Talbot’s bill clears the way for something called Tuition Scholarship Organizations (TSOs) to emerge in Louisiana. These are, according to the digest, “501(c)(3) tax exempt organization which donates no less than 95% of the monies from donations for scholarships to students for attendance at a qualified nonpublic school of their parent’s choice.”

It’s a pretty attractive set up on it’s face. Anyone interested in promoting private education in Louisiana will be able to make a fully tax deductible contribution to the TSO of its choice. It’s a two-fer — a feel-good, federally tax-exempt activity.

Doubling Their Money!

But, Talbot’s bill goes WAY beyond that. It makes the State of Louisiana a full partner in the enterprise. Yes, the federal tax deduction stands, but HB-969 requires the state to provide those donors a rebate in the full amount of their donation! Not a tax credit or anything like that. A rebate.

In other words, Peterson has decided the way to reverse the Democrat Party’s accelerating slide into irrelevance is to load up her executive staff with hard-core neo-coms and public union firebrands. Because that point of view is really popular in Louisiana.

What this will do is run off even more of the state’s old-fashioned Democrats – the people who have already been voting Republican more often than Democrat anyway but never saw much of a reason to officially switch parties.

Those people are quite likely to do so after a snootful of Peterson, Handwerk and Stagg’s offerings. Which won’t really negatively affect the party’s fortunes in the main – they can’t elect anybody on a statewide basis as it’s stood in recent years, anyway. But a smaller party registration means a smaller mailing list, a smaller donor list and a smaller chance to win.

Is this crew going to be able to raise any money for candidates? From unions, maybe. From a few trial lawyers, possibly, though that source is actually beginning to dry up a bit now that Gov. Bobby Jindal has made so many friends among the plaintiff bar. From anybody else who has a pot or a window? We’d be surprised.

And the person hurt worse than anybody else by this development is Sen. Mary Landrieu, whose only chance at re-election in 2014 is to run to the middle. If this is the apparatus the state party will have to give her, they’ll be a burden rather than an asset. She’s going to have to keep them quiet or she’s cooked – and that can’t be a pleasing prospect.



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