While it’s very early in the competition to see who the Presidential nominees will be in 2016, we’ve been impressed by the energy and drive of U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky.
Senator Paul recently accepted an invitation to speak to an Urban League convention in Florida. Unfortunately, most of the delegates to the convention thought that inviting an arch-conservative like Senator Paul was a mistake and stayed away from the session where he spoke.
But the Kentucky Senator handled it well by all accounts, and carried on with his speech although he was talking to rows of unfilled chairs. Along the way, he expressed his complete support for civil rights for all Americans. This was an important point for him because in 2010, he made some statements that seemed to indicate that he thought civil-rights laws were an encroachment on individual liberties.
We’re always impressed by candidates who are willing to go respectfully into the lion’s den and face hostile audiences. While Senator Paul is a lot further to the right than we are, he is clearly an interesting candidate. We’ve been watching the early polls on Presidential preferences and Senator Paul in most surveys narrowly leads the Republican pack, slightly ahead of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
He has also demonstrated a lot of pep. While he hasn’t formally announced that he’s running, Sen. Paul is headed for Iowa – an early Presidential primary state – for the 11th time.
We recently asked retired Jefferson Parish Assessor Lawrence Chehardy –- now the head of a powerful Jefferson Parish law firm -– what his thinking is regarding Sen. Paul. Chehardy said, “I’d like to hear what he has to say. He comes from the Libertarian school of politics that wants to shrink the size of Big Government. Most Republicans, including me, would certainly agree with that.”
Although Louisiana has become among the reddest states in the Union, Chehardy also thinks that if, as expected, Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee in 2016, it would be a mistake for either Republican national leaders or Louisiana Republicans to think that carrying the state for the Republican cause would be a walkover.
“Don’t forget that in 1992 and 1996, Bill Clinton carried Louisiana against George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole,” says Chehardy. “While Louisiana has become much more Republican than it was then, I think that Hillary would be a formidable candidate in Louisiana, Arkansas and quite possibly Texas. While Barack Obama never had a chance to carry Louisiana (he barely got 15 percent of the state’s white vote), Hillary would be an entirely different matter. If her strategy dictated making an effort in a few Deep South states, Louisiana might very well be a battleground state.”
We agree with Chehardy that it’s early to start handicapping the 2016 Presidential race, but we think that Sen. Paul would be an interesting candidate who might be very tough to beat in Louisiana.
LOCAL RACES GETTING HOT AS QUALIFYING NEARS
Criminal Court Judge Frank Marullo officially kicked off his campaign Thursday night at his annual summer fundraiser, which was packed with elected officials and lawyers. Marullo could well be facing the strongest challenge of his career. Judge Paul Sens is looking at Judge Julian Parker’s seat in Criminal Court. Sens has been seen shaking hands and kissing babies all over Lakeview. Another Lakeview political player, Judge Mark Shea, had a fundraiser that was attended by several hundred well-wishers last week.
Criminal Court Judge Tracey F. Davillier has put together a large host committee and endorsement list for a fundraiser next Thursday. Civil District Court Judge Paulette Irons also has a fundraiser that night along with Constable Lambert Boissiere who might find himself opposed by State Rep. Austin Badon. Finally, Judge Lloyd Medley made it official that he will seek reelection in Civil District Court. Ron Nabonne, who recently managed campaigns for his godchild Jason Williams and for Sheriff Marlin Gusman, is Medley’s campaign manager. Williams of course is supporting Nakisha Irwin-Knott.
We are also excited that Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden has verbalized his interest in running for Lt. Governor. Holden could be the first African-American statewide elected official. Earlier in his career, Holden lived in New Orleans and worked at WWL Radio.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EDWIN
Yesterday was also Edwin Edward’s birthday. He was joined in the private dining room of Crescent City Steakhouse by a big crowd of media folk. While Edwin’s poll numbers are improving, that race is still fluid.
Allan Katz spent 25 years as a political reporter and columnist at The Times-Picayune, and is now editor of the Kenner Star and host of several televsion programs, including the Louisiana Newsmaker on Cox Cable. Danae Columbus is executive producer of Louisiana Newsmaker, and has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. They both currently work for the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by their public relations firm are City council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.