Karen Carter Peterson Is The Gift That Keeps On Giving

The Democrats’ state party chair penned a guest column at the ridiculous CenLamar website explaining that (1) this year was actually a great electoral cycle for the Democrats, and (2) they’re not competitive with the GOP because of the Koch Brothers and the “right wing echo chamber.”

We’ll save you the trouble of having to go there. You can read the state’s top Dem spokesperson right here. Please save the laughter until the end…

The state of the Louisiana Democratic Party is unquestionably stronger than where we were just four years ago. We had three strong candidates in congressional races, and Congressman Cedric Richmond cruised to re-election, while Mayor Mayo and Governor Edwards both polled first in their primaries in qualifying for the runoff election. Ollie Tyler was elected as the first African-American woman to lead the city of Shreveport, and Jacques Roy won a resounding victory to continue serving as mayor of Alexandria. In addition, there were a number of new Democrats elected in local races that are the future of our Party. We are on strong financial footing for next year, and we have good support from our donors and great partnerships with Democratic elected officials across the state, as well as with the national committees.

But the fact of the matter is this — the non-stop onslaught of negative and inflammatory Koch Brothers ads, added to the toxic media environment driven by Fox News and the right-wing echo chamber, have made it challenging for us to drive out our message to voters. Our Party’s values — valuing work with a fair minimum wage, fighting for fairness in the workplace, expanding access to affordable health care, investing in education to help our kids compete in the global marketplace — ARE Louisiana values. We ARE the Party that is fighting for Louisiana working families. We don’t cater to the national special interests, the ideologues or the political noise machines. Our day begins and ends working for Louisianians to make our state a better place for all. We cannot cede that ground to Republicans, or we will keep falling further behind.

So I’m upbeat about our prospects moving forward into 2015. Louisiana has been ground-zero for a failed radical experiment in governance implemented by Bobby Jindal, one of the least popular governors in the country. Louisiana is ready for a new direction and return to a government that works for all. There’s a lot of hard work to be done, but I’m committed to doing whatever it takes to turn this state from red to purple and eventually to blue.

Calling candidates who are beaten by more than 20 points in congressional races “strong candidates” is indicative of some startlingly low standards, you might think, even amid an attempt to put a positive spin on a disastrous cycle. So is triumphalism over the fact that Mayo and Edwards, the only serious Democrat candidates in a pair of gigantic, Republican-filled electoral fields, ran first in their primaries. Republicans garnered 65 percent of the primary vote against Edwards, and 70 percent of the vote against Mayo.

It makes zero difference that Ollie Tyler is a woman, nor is it a particular accomplishment for the Louisiana Democrat Party that Tyler is a woman who got elected mayor of a Democrat city (against another Democrat woman in the runoff).

It’s also not much of a triumph when you openly admit the future of your party lies in local elections, rather than statewide ones. That’s a concession; it says that you can only win races in safe enclaves, and that you don’t have a strategy for building beyond them. Regardless of Peterson’s bragging about the party’s strong financial footing, be assured that donors from inside the state and out will not unleash big dollars to prop up a party which doesn’t compete successfully statewide.

And then we come to the Koch Brothers-as-bogeyman narrative, which is rather hilarious given that Democrat PAC’s put $13.8 million into the Senate race, while Republican PAC’s spent $12.4 million. Mary Landrieu, by the way, spent $18 million to lose the race, while Bill Cassidy spent $13 million to win it. So if the Koch Brothers’ onslaught is debilitating the Democrats, how much more of a financial advantage will they need in order to get a message out?

Oh, sorry. Fox News and the “right-wing echo chamber,” like this site for example, drown out the Democrats’ message.

The Times-Picayune endorsed Mary Landrieu twice in the Senate race and spent months attempting to prop her up to its readers. And while the Advocate didn’t make an endorsement it’s hard to make the case for that paper as a “right-wing echo chamber” when James Gill and Stephanie Grace are pumping out the Democrats’ party line in the opinion pages.

Peterson might be giving the Hayride a bit too much credit. Unless there’s another widely-read conservative blog in the state. Or is she talking about talk radio? The local shows in this state aren’t the most conservative on earth, y’know.

It definitely comes off as excuse-making.

And then we get to denial. Peterson spouts an agenda which has caused the Democrats to suffer a humiliating series of defeats in state and federal elections over the past few years; specifically…

  • a minimum-wage increase;
  • Equal Pay laws relying on disparate impact as a justification for gender lawsuits;
  • Medicaid expansion and Obamacare;
  • more money to teachers’ unions

That’s not a serious agenda to govern a state. It’s a collection of promises of free stuff, in a state which already perceives its public sector as too big. Peterson’s party has nothing to offer on how to prioritize Louisiana’s spending, and it doesn’t even offer the old-time “soak the rich” rhetoric in order to attract its voters anymore. She can’t pay for any of these goodies, she doesn’t offer anything on infrastructure or economic development, she has nothing to say on social issues, on crime, on energy. Just free stuff from the government.

Well, this state’s political center is not interested in more free stuff. That’s why Democrats no longer get votes in the center anymore.

And yet Karen Carter Peterson doesn’t offer any change to that.

The Democrats will never compete on a large scale in Louisiana again until that party’s agenda is set by someone different from Karen Carter Peterson.

Which is a good thing.

But it’s also a bad thing, because with the Democrats irrelevant, you are going to see far more stealth Democrats entering the Republican Party and attempting to infiltrate and poison its brand. We’ve already seen trial lawyer dollars flowing in, for example; Jindal introduced the phenomenon, it was trial lawyer cash which got Jeff Hughes elected to the state Supreme Court, trial lawyer dollars support several New Orleans-area parish presidents who are considering higher office and trial-lawyer money is making its way into the 2015 governor’s race among multiple candidates. And there is, of course, Forest Wright.

Because the Democrats are a spent political force in Louisiana, and because their politicians have been evacuating to the GOP in droves out of self-preservation, there is now a challenge for Republicans in Louisiana to protect the brand which made the party dominant.

The only real way to do that is to bring back party primaries in every election in the state, federal or otherwise.

A Forest Wright would never mount a serious challenge to Eric Skrmetta in a GOP primary, and a Rob Maness would be able to challenge a Bill Cassidy in a GOP primary without having the question of “tactical voting” enter the calculus.

Louisiana is a conservative state. And if the Democrats won’t move to the middle to embrace that reality, then the electorate should police that failure by reforming the electoral process to insure its values are reflected by the only mainstream party left.

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