As usual, election results produce their share of winners and losers, and Louisiana politicians have no special immunity to this. Thus, from the latest quadrennial elections, we find:
WINNER: Gov. Bobby Jindal. While a Pres. Barack Obama reelection will continue to create governance headaches for him and all governors, on a career level that Rep. Paul Ryan (safely reelected to his seat) did not win the vice presidency and Republicans will not be the party of the White House leaves him with more options and more upwards potential. Should Jindal fancy the presidency any such quest would have been out the window for the next eight years, and even then Ryan would have become the favorite to carry the party banner in eight years. Now, they are more on terms with each other and Jindal has more control over timing of attempted moves.
For a politician ambitious to the highest level, a cabinet position does no real good and perhaps even harm, so a Republican presidency offering him such a position conveyed no real benefit. Without that kind of job, his only real option to keep the momentum going would have been to run for the Senate in 2014. Even as those chances now are enhanced as a result of the election, he could skip that step and go directly to running for the presidency at the end of his term in 2015.
WINNER: Rep. Bill Cassidy. The Baton Rouge-area Republican turned in the most impressive electoral performance of the state’s incumbent winners while raising a lot and not spending much money. He is well positioned to go for the Senate in 2014, aided by having Obama continue, and now has a reduced chance of having to fight off Jindal for the post.
WINNER: Scott Angelle. The incoming District 2 Public Service Commissioner, given his past history as serving in two state executive offices by appointment and working with Jindal on the governor’s legislative agenda, he clearly has political talent. As a result of winning this election handily without need of a runoff, he also demonstrated considered fundraising acumen as well. All he needed was to demonstrate he could put it all together for winning a prominent elected office, and now he has in decisive fashion. He has a political future, which may include his competing for Cassidy’s current gig should Cassidy go for the Senate in two years.
LOSER: Sen. Mary Landrieu. While she may be less likely to see Jindal as an opponent in 2014 after these elections, her tenuous hold on office is more imperiled than ever thanks to the Obama reelection. It’s bad enough that she would have to fight off her controversial votes for Obama’s agenda, most particularly for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but, worse, she will have to buck the six-year presidential tide, as senators of a president’s party in his sixth year historically are the most vulnerable.
Yet worst all, Obama seems unlikely to have gotten the message that losing 5 million votes (relative to your opponent), 5 Senate seats, 50 House seats, nine governorships and 10 state legislatures in four years means that you have a long-term losing agenda if your opponents are willing to exploit it by presenting a clear alternative. Obama, a true believer of the discredited left, does not seek compromise but is gambling, in order to increase Democrat and government control over people, that he can turn American political culture from conceiving of the country as an opportunity society to an entitlement society. He will double down on stupid, and unless the GOP itself acts more stupidly and acquiesces, the internal contradictions of liberalism will ensure that electoral shellacking is in the immediate future for national Democrats.
That and the delayed costs of legislation she approved such as the PPACA, which by the time of her campaign will have clearly begun to show it neither protects patients’ interests nor is affordable, by 2014 will tie an anchor around her neck that will pull her (and many of her co-partisans) straight to the bottom of the electoral ocean. Cassidy and Jindal, to name just two potential Republican opponents, are quality conservative candidates with proven abilities to win. Always the beneficiary of lucky timing in her three previous tries for office, on this occasion it all will work against her.
LOSER: Rep. Jeff Landry. Had he, one of the two incumbent Republicans thrown into the same district because of redistricting, managed to get around 35 percent of the vote and stayed within five percentage points of the other, Rep. Charles Boustany, he was at least an even-money bet to win the Dec. 8 runoff. That contest will feature a noticeably more conservative, less Democrat electorate that favors the more ideological approach Landry takes.
Instead, he only cracked 30 percent and lagged Boustany by 15 points. By the slash-and-burn, take-no-prisoners style of campaigning in which both engaged, this meant only the eventual winner will have a chance to rehabilitate himself with voters and party-aligned interests alienated by negative campaigning. Had he conducted himself differently, perhaps not even challenging Boustany, Landry may have curried favor with these interests who might have supported him eagerly for something else relatively soon. Now a long shot to win, it might be awhile before the scars heal enough for Landry to find enough support from enough powerbrokers to try successfully for another prominent office.
LOSER: Rep. Cedric Richmond. That the state’s only Democrat in the U.S. House pulled less than 56 percent of the vote in a district 61 percent black and with an appreciable smattering of white liberals indicates some serious vulnerability on his part. Clearly, and especially with a presidential candidate identified as black on the ticket that should encourage the opportunity for such voters to tick off his name on the ballot, a non-trivial proportion of blacks in the district either are disenchanted enough with him not to vote or to vote for white candidates running against him. This opens the door for a more moderate black to scoop up those disenchanted blacks, collect the non-conservative white vote, and peel off other blacks from Richmond to send him to defeat in 2014, especially as the black vote typically disproportionately diminishes relative to the white vote in an off-year election.
There you have it, until 2014.