There’s a battle brewing in the Oct. 24 election for Secretary of State that will pit the Republican incumbent, former State Senator and De La Salle High School graduate Tom Schedler, against LSU law professor Chris Tyson, an African-American Democrat. In an election year where at least one other African-American is running statewide, Tyson is poised to appeal to the African-American voters and white Democrats already turning out for John Bel Edwards in the governor’s race and for Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden, who has announced for Lt. Governor. Billing his candidacy as “the conservative choice,” Schedler was a St. Tammany based health-care marketing executive before he ran for the legislature and also served as assistant secretary of state under former Secretary of State Jay Dardenne.
New Orleans streetcars are our version of light rail transit, and they have made living in the city’s core more attractive. We know of a one-car family on Carrollton Avenue. The wife uses the SUV to ferry the three kids back and forth and handle the other daily necessities of life. The man of the house only needs to look as far as his neighborhood streetcar to give him access to downtown New Orleans. Though the new streetcar construction project now underway along Rampart/St.
First some full disclosure: Allan has know Tom Benson since his Times Picayune days and even spent a weekend at Tom’s ranch in Texas; Allan and later Allan and Danae did consulting work for Benson; Gayle Bird Benson used to come on our cable show to raise money for St. Louis Cathedral; we attended their wedding reception ten years ago; Danae has also worked with lawyer Randy Smith on campaign events. So, like everyone else in New Orleans, we have been closely following the Benson family feud and the obvious greed that surrounds it. Who would have thought the tenacious ninth ward graduate of St. Aloysius and Loyola-trained accountant would become the billionaire that everyone — except his other four living children, apparently — are fighting over.
Poor Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Winner of two landslide elections, seemingly one of America’s most successful and articulate mayors, architect of a New Orleans post-Katrina renaissance, he has to be wondering what hit him. It seems like his plunge from the penthouse to the outhouse took place almost overnight. The big punch, of course, began with a sudden surge in Vieux Carre crime that quickly got completely out of control. Gangs of thugs began roaming French Quarter streets, beating people up as well as robbing them.
When we look at the many national experts who are predicting Americans – in general – will have a good 2015, we also want to look at those indicators in terms of New Orleans. The U.S. and certainly New Orleans’ economy appears to be hitting its stride. GDP growth nationally will rise approximately three percent, despite turmoil in global oil markets, concerns over stock valuations, war and the recession, according to WalletHub, a one-stop information source for consumers and small business owners. As the nation’s economy gets rolling, unemployment figures are trending back to pre-recession levels. While they started out at 6.6% nationally in 2014 -they will continue to decrease probably to 5% in 2015.
Congressman Bill Cassidy’s strong win against Sen. Mary Landrieu last week and Sen. David Vitter’s role as chief strategist has set up a powerful Cassidy/Vitter connection that will put an imprint on Louisiana for years to come. Together they will also be a powerful force in Washington as Vitter uses his clout in the Republican Party to help better position Cassidy, who could quickly find himself Louisiana’s senior senator if Vitter becomes our next governor. Cassidy along with five other Republican Senate freshmen arrives ahead of the curve, having learned the legislative ropes in the U.S. House of Representatives. Lobbyists consider Cassidy’s election “the icing on the cake.” Look for Cassidy to quickly dig into issues like health care to develop better public policy that matches his philosophy. Even though many metro New Orleans business leaders hedged their bets and supported Landrieu, in Cassidy’s victory Louisiana businesses gained a committed, free-market advocate who will have their best interests at heart. Many energy-related businesses like Exxon, BP, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, and their industry associations gave heavily to Landrieu and will now saddle up with Cassidy to ensure passage of Keystone, natural-gas exports, and expanded drilling.
Danae arrived in Arkansas just in time for the annual Thanksgiving dinner at The Brookfield, where Vera, her 88-year old mother, resides. A place card on the table proclaimed “I am thankful for Vera.” It made her also reflect on the many things in New Orleans we are thankful for this year. We are thankful that Mayor Mitch Landrieu made a change in the leadership of the NOPD which is helping relieve racial tension in our community. We are thankful for all the new recruit classes that will put more officers in the neighborhoods.
Excitement spread quickly among well-heeled Democrats that the great performer Stevie Wonder would be the special guest for an “Intimate Evening” at the Windsor Court to benefit Senator Mary Landrieu on Dec. 1, but we’re not sure that even a visit by the famed Stevie Wonder will help energize voters enough to carry Mary over the top.
First, the Democrats pulled away a $12 Million advertising budget previously designated for Landrieu. Now, Republicans have decided they don’t even need to run third-party attack ads against Landrieu next week. Despite a re-energized campaign, Team Landrieu continues to face an uphill battle and time is running out. Washington D.C. pollster Ron Faucheux circulated a conservative Republican poll this week that showed Congressman Bill Cassidy with a wide (22 point) lead and also referenced a previous poll taken for Cassidy that showed a 16 point lead. While we’re sure Senator Landrieu’s polls (though none have been released publically) are more favorable, it doesn’t look good for Landrieu as early voting begins this Saturday and continues through November 28.
Since Danae has been on the sidelines in two current campaigns, we thought it was only appropriate that Allan — who wrote his “cloudy crystal ball” political predictions in the Times Picayune for decades — pen this column. A very important election will be held in New Orleans and throughout America on Tuesday. What do the pundits think is going to happen? Who cares? You’re the ones who are going to the polls to vote.
We’re Mary Landrieu fans, so we’re used to her “Perils of Pauline” routines where she somehow squeezes out an unlikely victory at the very last instant. But in her current reelection campaign, her Road Runner gig seems to have run its course and her Republican opponents are certain that she’s ready for their cooking pot. “This is the fourth time I’ve opposed Mary Landrieu in a U.S. Senate race and I’ve lost three times,” says Roger Villere, Chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party. “So I have a lot of respect for her. But this time, everything seems to have fallen in place for us.