Allan Katz and Danae Columbus: Jeb Bush and David Vitter may make a tempting combo for conservative voters

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Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Louisiana donors will get their first chance to view former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s all-but-declared presidential candidacy up close and personal when Bush comes to New Orleans on April 15 as the special guest at U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s fundraising reception. Dozens of Louisiana’s heavy-hitter Republican donors — and a few Democrats too — are sure to find their way to the Metairie estate of Joe Canizaro, one of the most prolific bundlers in the Gulf South.

In the most recent polls we’ve seen, Bush is neck-and-neck with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for the lead but the race has barely begun. On the Democratic side of course, Hillary Clinton’s support has simmered down from a couple of months ago. But there is still no challenger on the horizon.

Bush and Walker are already trying to outdo themselves as the candidate who has “the common touch” that can best reach “the people.” Bush has been trying to convince fellow Republicans that the party must reach out to people of “every walk of life” with a message of unity. Whether Republicans can embrace a presidential candidate — although well moneyed — who insists the party embrace new policy views and voters who don’t look like them remains to be seen.

Bush would also like to reconnect with all the Democratic voters who might have supported his father or brother. He also wants to be the candidate of choice for many Hispanic voters, especially females, who can relate to his bi-cultural marriage to Columba Bush, a native of Mexico. Bush’s family resembles the voters of tomorrow, not the voters of the past.

Walker, the son of a small-town minister, hails from a state that the Republicans have not carried in decades. He is a fighter and wants his party to engage in combat for every constituency. While Bush will seek voters in states like Florida, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina and New Mexico where there are more diverse populations, Walker, who is supported by the gun lobby, will concentrate on working-class white voters in the such mid-western states as Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Unless a Republican candidate can receive more than the 17 percent of non-white voters that Mitt Romney captured four years ago, the Republicans would have to capture 65 percent of the white vote to win, according to the New York Times.

If no other strong Democratic candidate such as Mayor Mitch Landrieu enters the governor’s race, Bush will probably be able to count on David Vitter delivering the crossover votes and donors Bush needs in Louisiana.

Even though State Rep John Bel Edwards has locked up the Louisiana Democratic Party’s endorsement, Mitch is still keeping quiet about the governor’s race. Those who know Mitch best also know Mitch could decide to enter the race the week before qualifying and still give Vitter a real run for his money.


Congratulations to entrepreneurs Paul Flower, Henry Coaxum, Earl Robinson, Bob Merrick and the Four Seasons team. Now that Mitch Landrieu has made up his mind, negotiations, financing and permits are moving at a fast pace. The Four Seasons will be the most expensive hotel and most expensive condos in New Orleans. The selection team publicly chose this group because they would yield the highest economic benefit to New Orleans’s tax base. We wish them luck and hope their projections were accurate. Only time will tell if the numbers really work.

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.

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