If one thing is true for 2014, it is that Democrats and the Louisiana Democratic Party did not have a hot year. And change does not seem to be coming anytime soon.
First off, longtime Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) was defeated by Senate-Elect Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), a massive win for Republicans across the country. And besides that, nationwide, Democrats lost in big numbers during this year’s midterm elections.
In fact, there are no more Democrats representing the Deep South in the US Senate. This prompted many pundits to question if the Democratic Party should just give up on the South altogether.
So where do the Democrats go from here? In an anguished and pointed column on the Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky, the liberal journalist, says the Party should “dump Dixie” and concentrate its electoral efforts on other parts of the country. “Practically the whole region,” Tomasky writes, “has rejected nearly everything that’s good about this country and has become just one big nuclear waste site of choleric, and extremely racialized, resentment…. Forget about it. Forget about the whole fetid place. Write it off. Let the GOP have it and run it and turn it into Free-Market Jesus Paradise.”
For Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans), the Louisiana Democratic Party Chairwoman, it was an even worse year.
Following the loss of Landrieu’s Senate seat, Peterson played every liberal’s favorite blame game: those God-awful Koch brothers.
Peterson said it was the Koch Brothers who were to blame for Landrieu’s loss because they spent so much money in the state trying to take out the long-lasting Southern Democrat. But, Peterson never owned up for what was actually her fault in leadership.
During Peterson’s tenure, Democrats in Louisiana have focused on issues like Medicaid expansion, an ineffective “equal pay” narrative and unpopular positions on Obamacare. Not to mention, the LA Dems endorsed former Gov. Edwin Edwards, a now infamous ex-convict. What Democrats failed to focus on is the majority of Louisiana voters’ opposition to President Obama’s agenda.
But, they still clearly don’t see a problem with the party, as Peterson has said that she does not plan on stepping down.
Following a recent speech to the Baton Rouge Press Club, Peterson was cornered with a question by a reporter about finishing her term or stepping down. Peterson sounded like she has the job she wants.
“Why wouldn’t I?” she responded, her voice reaching a crescendo. “I was elected for four years.”
With the gubernatorial election in the state coming up, Republicans have looked to Sen. David Vitter (R-LA). For Democrats, they are looking towards Rep. John Bel Edwards (D-Amite). However, Democrats are looking again at a tough election.
So far, John Bel Edwards is the only Democrat in the race, and that could pose a challenge given the state’s current political climate.
“This state is not electing Democrats to statewide office right now. In a runoff between Vitter and a Democrat, Vitter is the next governor,” said GOP political strategist Jim Farwell.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who was being eyed for the gubernatorial race against Vitter, seems to no longer be in the photo. Landrieu is facing a massive challenge trying to deal with crime in the city, which is on the upswing in the more tourist-y areas in New Orleans.
And after his sister’s unpopularity and big lose, Louisiana voters may not want to hear about a Landrieu for a long time.