Tuesday, October 10, 2006
THE PARTY'S OVER!
Louisiana Political Report
Senator Francis Heitmeier (D-New Orleans) has decided to withdraw from the Secretary of State's race. Heitmeier finished second in the primary election with 28% of the vote, but it was well below expectations for the only major Democrat in the race.
In recent days, there has been little or no activity in Heitmeier's campaign as the candidate has met with Democratic leaders, including former U.S. Senator John Breaux.
Heitmeier's only hope of victory was to generate a huge turnout among African American and other Democratic core voters. This type of turnout effort is costly, and without DNC support, Heitmeier does not have sufficient funds to mount such a massive street operation.
DARDENNE NEW SECRETARY OF STATE
State Senator Francis Heitmeier has dropped out of the race for Secretary of State. Heitmeier finished second in the September 30th statewide primary. Republican State Senator Jay Dardenne, the frontrunner, will be sworn into office within 30 days. Both senators were prevented from running for re-election in the Senate, due to term limits. Dardenne is from Baton Rouge.
WAFB 9 NEWS Political Analyst Jim Engster says the move is not a complete surprise, considering Heitmeier's poor showing in the primary. In Orleans parish, where Heitmeier is from, he defeated Republican Candidate Jay Dardenne by only 96 votes.
Statewide, 67 percent of the votes went to four Republican candidates in the primary."
This is not unprecedented," said Engster. "Edwin Edwards withdrew from the Governor's race in 1987. He would have been in a runoff with Buddy Roemer. Edwards dropped out, because he, as a Democrat finished second, just as Heitmeier did," Engster said.
State Senator Lydia Jackson, a Democrat from Shreveport, says the news of Heitmeier dropping out of the race should be of concern to Louisiana's Democratic party. "There's a changing political landscape for Democratic candidates in the state," Jackson said.
Jackson said she believes the fact so many people are still evacuated from New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina has had a major negative impact on the party.
Prior to Katrina, New Orleans was considered a stronghold for Democrats. "I think that's (Hurricane Katrina) certainly the most obvious factor. Our public policy has to be full-scale efforts to rebuild and restore the social and political infrastructure that has been New Orleans," Jackson said.
LPNS COMMENTARY: THE INABILITY OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY TO FIELD A CANDIDATE IN THE RACE FOR INSURANCE COMMISSIONER AND THE POOR SHOWING OF HEITMEIER (28%) IS A SURE INDICATION THAT INDEED THE STATEWIDE "POLITICAL LANDSCAPE" HAS CHANGED.
GOVERNOR BLANCO'S OWN RE-ELECT POLL NUMBERS ARE ALSO BELOW 30% AND HAVE BEEN SINCE HURRICANE KATRINA. COULD IT BE THAT BLANCO AT THE TOP OF THE DEMOCRATIC TICKET AND THE MASS EXODUS OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN VOTERS FROM NEW ORLEANS MEAN THAT STATEWIDE THE (DEMOCRAT) PARTY'S OVER?