When Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne kicked off his gubernatorial campaign in New Orleans, he picked the right location. He held it in The Cabildo, the seat of New Orleans’s colonial government and the home of the Louisiana State Museum.
Tourism, which the Lieutenant Governor is in charge of, is one of the few things in Louisiana that seem to be going right at the moment. While the roads are crumbling and the state is running a $1.6 billion budget deficit, tourism is having record years, thanks to Lt. Governor Dardenne.
Dardenne himself is somewhat of a Louisiana institution having served in the legislature and as Secretary of State before becoming Lt. Governor. He’s universally liked across the political spectrum as a competent and honest public servant, both of which are rare in Louisiana.
This week Dardenne officially entered the governor’s race. He’s been doing a whistlestop tour of the state and in Wednesday, he made his way to New Orleans.
His son, Matt, introduced him to a crowd of supporters in a 2nd floor room of The Cabildo. He spoke about his dad and their love of Louisiana.
Then Dardenne took the stage himself. In a truly unique to Louisiana moment, a jazz band was playing in nearby Jackson Square and Dardenne had to talk over it. However, he had no problem being heard by the crowd and the small media contingent. He didn’t go off of his prepared remarks for the most part.
Dardenne is campaigning as much against Governor Bobby Jindal as he is his opponents. His narrative is going to be the career public servant who has always served his community and Louisiana and won’t constantly campaign for higher office.
The way a Dardenne statewide campaign has usually worked is this: run to the center, lockdown the Baton Rouge area, and squeeze out either a more conservative or more liberal candidate. But there’s a problem with this scenario, a more polarized Louisiana electorate than what Dardenne has traditionally faced.
Anti-Jindal conservatives are lining up behind U.S. Senator David Vitter. Louisiana’s liberals are lining behind State Rep. John Bel Edwards (D-Amite). Lastly, the declining bloc of pro-Jindal conservatives are leaning towards Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle.
Right now, Jay Dardenne is pretty much everyone’s second choice. If you took a poll of statewide officials, Dardenne would probably the most popular, if not a close second behind Treasurer John Kennedy. His problem is that he’s not the first choice for a lot of people right now.
The Hayride asked Dardenne about how he plans on overcoming the fact that essentially David Vitter has 1/3 of the vote and John Bel Edwards has 1/3 of the vote. Dardenne believes that his record and his integrity will the key to his success. He believes that Louisianians at the end of the day will be more interested in someone who can get the job done than an ideologue.
Here’s the brief four minute interview in its entirety.
What Dardenne really needs is another Democrat to jump in the race and dilute the Edwards vote by forcing him further to the left. If Jay Dardenne makes the runoff, he’s the next Governor of Louisiana. His challenge is simply making the big dance.