Sunday, May 3, should be a pretty good 54th birthday for U.S. Senator David Vitter, the clear frontrunner in the Louisiana’s governor’s race. Vitter has raised $1.1 million in the most recent campaign finance period which ended earlier this week and still has $4.2 million on hand, more than the other three major candidates combined. That total does not include Vitter’s SuperPac which is also sitting on millions.
While money does not always dictate the outcome of campaigns, it certainly makes it easier to spread a candidate’s message through television, direct mail, phone banks, election day activities and all those other indicators of a truly successful campaign.
Vitter also has to his advantage that he has been all-out campaigning for more than a year; has built strong relationships across the state with the growing number of local Republican elected officials; has a fairly successful record serving the citizens of Louisiana; somehow survived a sex scandal; and has emerged as one of President Obama’s most ardent critics. Mary Landrieu would still be in office had it not been for David Vitter and his strategic influence on newly elected U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy.
Besides all that, Vitter is whip-smart and runs first-rate, flawless campaigns. He’s a De La Salle valedictorian, Rhodes Scholar, a Harvard graduate, and a former member of the Louisiana Legislature. His wife Wendy, a lawyer for former Orleans Parish assistant DA, is even smarter than Vitter. Wendy would truly be a great governor.
We say always follow the trail to the money and Vitter’s got it not just from the usual deep-pocketed Louisiana donors and players on the Washington D.C. scene, but also little people across America such as Cecil Henry in Brethren, Mi. who sent in $12 and Amber Martin in Boca Raton who donated $1000.
We did not take the time to read all 500-plus pages of Vitter’s most recent campaign report, but we did see plenty of interesting stuff in the first 275. The Boh family must love David Vitter. They forked over $20,000 in this reporting period. Charlotte Bollinger is now up to $6,000. Pres Kabacoff and his partner Eddie Boettner are now at $7,000. James R. and Louise Moffett each gave $5,000 as did Mary Clare Conwill, Fred Heebe, Price LeBlanc, Gary Laborde, Kinney, Ellinghauser, Richard & Deshazo, the Kern family, and Jay Lapeyre who is slightly over $5000 now. Bill and Donna Hines together have reached $5000 along with Patricia and Vernon Brinson, Karen and Williams Lacorte, and Caroline and Murray Calhoun. The Eastman family are big donors.
Also playing at the top are Edgar Bright, Ralph Brennan, Sandra Cahill, Oliver and Susan Delery, Henry Favrot, William Goliwas, Mark Heller, Stone Oil, John Laborde, Tim Francis and Neal Kling. Let’s not forget John Blancher of Rock ‘N Bowl fame and LA nutritionist Jenny Craig, as well as $1000 donors Miles Clement, Roy Glapion, Walter Claiborne III, Frank Levy, Dennis Kay and the Lauricella Land Co.
Candidate Vitter recently met with oil and gas executives in Lafayette to better understand their needs (code for raising more money from them.) Senator Vitter pounced on the need to abolish Obamacare which would negatively impact millions of Louisiana citizens. Tomorrow Senator Vitter will hold a town hall meeting at UNO that will surely draw a large crowd of concerned voters.
We heard a Jefferson Parish elected officials say recently that if voters thought Bobby Jindal was a bad governor, David Vitter would be much worse. While election day is still six months off, it will take a big push and lots of money to dethrone David Vitter from the top of the governor’s race. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne is still holding almost $2 million; PSC Commissioner Scott Angelle has $1.2 million remaining and State Rep John Bel Edwards almost $900,000. All is not lost.
SENATOR FRED MILLS TEAMS UP WITH OPPONENTS IN MEDICAL MARIJUANA LEGISLATION DEBATE
Doctors have had the legal right to prescribe medical marijuana in Louisiana since 1991. The state department of Health and Hospitals never promulgated the rules to set up the mechanism for patients to get the drugs. That’s exactly why Senator Fred Mills of Breaux Bridge is so focused on passing legislation that would fill the gap in the existing laws. Last year the Sheriff’s Association and the DA’s shut his bill down. Mills, a pharmacist and bank president, did not waver on his commitment to patients and doctors who believe in the benefits of medical marijuana. He rewrote the bill and patiently negotiated with the Sheriffs until they no longer opposed the legislation. Watching the Republican-dominated Health and Welfare Committee unanimously move the bill to the full Senate yesterday was politics at its best.
The legislation still has a long way to go before it reaches Governor Jindal’s desk, where signage is expected. Mills accepted 16 amendments from the Sheriffs which changed his bill into an extremely tight, careful, cautious, controlled piece of legislation. It’s not what the marijuana lobbyists wanted at all. We believe it will be difficult for the much more liberal legislation authored by Rep. Dalton Honore to move forward this session. But progress is being made. Louisiana could soon be the 25th state to offer medical marijuana to those citizens who meet the stringent criteria.
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 television 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.