In a piece on The Advocate’s site titled “Should Gov. Edwards punish uncooperative Republicans for thwarting his initiatives? Here’s how he can”, Tyler Bridges suggests that John Bel Edwards could very well punish Republicans who, let’s face it, embarrassed him in the recent legislative session.
Check out the tone here, which seem to be one of tacit approval of the idea (which might lead one to believe an “anonymous source” from the Edwards administration floated the idea to Bridges/The Advocate):
The governor will have the opportunity to strike at those he labels “obstructionists” when he decides this week whether to veto any projects in House Bill 2, which lists all of the infrastructure projects — roads, bridges, sidewalks, sewer systems and the like — scheduled to receive state construction dollars for the new budget year that begins on July 1.
Edwards will have further opportunities to take action against lawmakers in July, and also later in the year, when he decides which projects to forward to the State Bond Commission to approve the actual funding. He can withhold money for specific projects in HB2, which gives him enormous power since the projects allow Republicans and Democrats alike to win a reputation back home as doers in Baton Rouge. Doers generally win re-election.
All of this, of course, is super weird when you consider a piece Bridges wrote in 2012, in which he came across as incredibly critical of then-governor Bobby Jindal for punishing dissent.
Edwards has, of course, been incredibly whiny about conservative Republicans who have stood in his way, and he doubtless going to find some way to get back at them. As a governor, all of these tactics are certainly legal, and no one really questions whether or not it’s ethical. In both referenced pieces, Bridges admits that.
But, it’s the difference in the tone of the two pieces that raises questions here. With Edwards, it appears it’s fine to do this. But, when Jindal got back at those who dissented, it was treated as this horrifying act, and a borderline abuse of power.
Personally, I don’t see Edwards punishing Republicans doing much to hurt them at re-election time. The ones who opposed him were elected to be conservative in the legislature, and in opposing a Democrat governor. If anything, some of these folks become martyrs in this scenario.
Let’s face it, though. If Edwards were a Republican, there’s no way this piece gets written. Or, if it did, it doesn’t get written with this kind of tone to it. I would imagine the headline would be something like “Democrat Opposition to the Governor Could Face Retaliation.”