One of the topics the politicos plying their trade at the Louisiana Capitol will always entertain is the question of who’ll be running in the next gubernatorial election, and the 2023 cycle has been a topic of conversation even before John Bel Edwards managed to hold off Eddie Rispone in November of 2019. The handicapping of that race is now in completely full swing, with most of the insiders saying it’s a Jeff Landry-Billy Nungesser battle on the Republican side. Who it’ll be for the Democrats is murkier, though it seems clear that Ted James, a state representative from Baton Rouge who now chairs the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, badly, badly wants to carry his party’s standard.
Something which characterizes politics, and particularly on the Left, is that the people who achieve political power usually aren’t the smartest, wisest, strongest, best-looking, nicest or richest folks. Winning political power is about being willing to do what others won’t. How do you think Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, or Nancy Pelosi for that matter, managed to get so far with such minimal evidence of personal qualities? How did John Alario become such a force in Louisiana’s legislative politics? How did Edwards manage to hold off Rispone in a deep-red state?
It’s about lacking inhibitions. It’s about doing the things your voting base likes, and driving your enemies to distraction.
James isn’t quite a master of the art of incitement. Not yet. Most of what he does falls flat. But he’s the one doing the inciting among Louisiana’s Democrats these days, and that’s clearly a precursor to his attempting to move up – with the Democrat slot in the 2023 gubernatorial race as the most obvious prize.
James is termed out as a state representative. His Senate district won’t be open until 2027, and it’s unlikely he would be able to beat Regina Barrow if he ran against her. Meanwhile two things are true about Democrats at the statewide level.
First, they don’t have a viable candidate with the name recognition to compete with the heavy players on the GOP side. That isn’t fatal; John Bel Edwards’ name ID when he first ran for governor was nil compared to David Vitter’s. But Edwards could at least package himself as something the voters could sympathize with, given that he styled himself as a pro-life, pro-gun Democrat who’d graduated from West Point. That made him look like something other than a leftist control freak despite the fact his legislative record was to the left of anybody in the Black Caucus.
Nobody with that kind of plausibility exists now. There are almost no white Democrats left in the Louisiana legislature, and the recently-departed ones aren’t sellable to the voters in the way Edwards was.
Which brings us to the second truth about Democrats at the statewide level, which is that without a white Democrat who’s sellable statewide the state’s black politicians are anxious to take over the party. Because if they’re not going to win statewide races, something Edwards defied the odds to do, then the power is in local governments in places which are majority black. Remember, black voters are nearly 60 percent of the Louisiana Democrat Party now, and a large majority of the elected Democrats in Louisiana are black. In the state legislature, for example, black Democrats outnumber white Democrats 10 to 2, and in the House it’s 35 to 7. Karen Carter Peterson was the chair of the Democrat Party while Edwards was governor until last year, and now the chair is Katie Bernhardt, a white lawyer from Lafayette.
When Edwards fades from the scene, it’s difficult to see how the Democrats’ candidate for governor won’t be black. All of their major candidates in the 2020 federal races, at least for the races that were even remotely competitive (the Senate race against Bill Cassidy and the 5th District congressional race), were black. Their candidates for the 2019 down-ballot statewide races were all black. Unless Helena Moreno gets into the 2nd District congressional special election, all the Democrats in that race will be black, and the Democrats in the 5th District race to replace Luke Letlow after his tragic death will almost assuredly be all black.
Their gubernatorial candidate is going to be black. Katie Bernhardt might perhaps try to make a run at the job, but the guess is she won’t get any black support. And there’s an easy reason for that, which is that if you run for governor you can trail in a good chunk of out-of-state money from the usual national donors, something that will be easier to do for a black Democrat in the age of Stacey Abrams and Raphael Warnock, and with a black candidate it’ll mean black politicos, rather than white trial lawyers, are in charge of that campaign money. And that’s a lot of swag to spread around to friends and family, particularly when you know you aren’t likely to win.
And right now there is no obvious choice among Louisiana’s black politicians for 2023. Karen Carter Peterson and Troy Carter are running for Cedric Richmond’s congressional seat, and whichever one loses that race is going to be far too damaged to make the gubernatorial race. Particularly when that’s going to be an absolute race to the bottom with nonstop lurches to the left that will horrify Louisiana’s voters. Adrian Perkins did so badly against Bill Cassidy that he’s more likely to lose re-election as Shreveport’s mayor than make another statewide run. Cleo Fields has already run for governor; he begged out of the 2nd District race, which is an indication he’s happy just occupying a state Senate seat and brokering deals inside the rail.
So it’s wide open for Ted James. He just has to make himself well-known enough that people seem him as a plausible gubernatorial candidate.
He’s been doing that as often as he can of late. And now, he’s taking a poke at Rouse’s grocery store chain, which Louisiana’s lefties have decreed is a non-grata commercial institution after the Rouse family figure Donald Rouse, Sr., ventured to Washington for the protest on Jan. 6.
James has latched on to the notion of boycotting South Louisiana’s largest grocery chain…
Chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus and Baton Rouge Representative Ted James calls for a boycott of Rouses after a photograph of co-owner Donald Rouse Sr. attending the pro-Trump Rally in DC Wednesday circulated. Rouse issued a statement saying he attended to support Trump but condemns the violence. James questions why Rouse only condemns violence at the Capitol.
“I can take him at his word, it doesn’t mean much to me that he would still go out there to support this President and he’s condemning the violence the other day but hadn’t condemned the violence and all of the folks that were assaulted in Virginia,” said James.
James, who said he was a regular patron at Rouses will still no longer shop at the grocer because of the owner’s perceived support to overthrow the election process.
“It wasn’t just the violence that erupted, the being there, in general, to actually call for the Congress not to certify the vote of the people that’s problematic,” said James.
Rouse Sr’s statement also noted that the country needs to come together and heal. James agrees and that the violence we saw unfold Wednesday is a turning point.
“I think this moment is going to be one of those moments that we’re going to turn the corner, now you’re going to have folks on the far end of both sides, but I think this is the moment that’s going to push it. If it doesn’t shame on all of us,” said James.
Note to Ted James: Congress certifying the Electoral College – or choosing not to – is PART OF the election process. Asking Congress not to certify an election you think has been stolen isn’t overthrowing that process, it’s upholding it. And since you’ve stipulated that Donald Rouse didn’t take part in the riot which may or may not have been instigated by Antifa at the Capitol, what you’re saying is that you’re calling for a boycott of a business because its owner exercised his right to disagree with you politically.
That doesn’t exactly smack of bipartisan leadership regardless of the gibberish toward that end issuing from Ted James’ mouth.
Ted James doesn’t make cogent arguments. He never has. Ted James once posted a meme on his social media equating Trayvon Martin, who was beating a man to death when he got shot, with Emmitt Till, a black teenager who was murdered for the sin of flirting with a white woman in the 1950’s.
Now he says he won’t make his groceries at Rouse’s. Which, frankly, won’t hurt Rouse’s business.
We were in Rouse’s over the weekend. It was full of people like it normally is.
But this isn’t about Rouse’s, and it isn’t about the election. This is about Ted James grasping at whatever he can in order to make himself appear relevant in advance of the 2023 gubernatorial election.
And that’s just fine from a Republican perspective, as irritating as Ted James might be. Because there is next to zero chance that he could win a statewide election in Louisiana.