James Carville says ‘bad political leadership’ threatening south Louisiana’s very existence

    Louisiana voters need to get involved in the governor’s race and force the candidates to answer tough questions about how they plan to deal with the state’s fiscal, environmental and higher education crises, according to Democratic political guru James Carville.

    Speaking to a packed ballroom of more than 1,000 attendees at 89.3 WRKF-FM’s first annual Founder’s Luncheon today, Carville delivered a rambling but passionate speech about south Louisiana culture and why it’s important to ensure the survival of that culture through wise political choices.

    “I’ve lived in a lot of places, but I’ve only lived in one culture,” said Carville, a native of Carville, who moved to New Orleans with his family in 2008 to help rebuild the city following Hurricane Katrina. “We have our own food, our own music, our own literature, our own architecture, our own social structure. Our way of life is our quality of life.”

    But that culture is under assault, Carville said, both on the environmental and political front.

    “Political leadership matters,” he said. “Our survival is not a given. Dallas will be here 75 years from now. You can’t say that about south Louisiana. When you have bad political leadership, it harms not only the future but our existence.”

    Carville urged the audience to grill the gubernatorial candidates on what they would include in the call for a special session. He also repeatedly stressed the importance of funding for LSU’s flagship campus in Baton Rouge.

    “This isn’t some little thing that happens seven Saturdays a year,” he said, referring to LSU home football games. “This is essential to the very survival of an endangered culture that is under assault. No one wants to tell us that.”

    Carville didn’t offer any analysis of the upcoming governor’s race, though he said he believes it is still wide open and that any of the four major candidates can win. The leading candidates are Republicans Scott Angelle, Jay Dardenne and David Vitter, and Democrat John Bel Edwards.

    “This isn’t a given,” he said, referring to Vitter’s commanding lead in the polls. “And if Vitter wins, who knows, maybe he’ll do something.”

    Nor did Carville provide any insight into the presidential campaign. But what he lacked in specifics, he tried to make up for with one-liners peppered throughout the speech. About Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, Carville said, “We all know someone like him. He’s like your crazy uncle at Thanksgiving.”

    About speaking to a group of public radio supporters, Carville quipped: “Every white Democrat in Baton Rouge is here—all 30 of them.”

    And on life in south Louisiana, he said, “My daddy always said, ‘If you live in south Louisiana, being mad at stupidity is like being mad at grass.’”

    —Stephanie Riegel

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