The election is over, but the battle is ahead: A blue governor now leads a state that’s controlled by a red Legislature—not to mention every other statewide elected official is of the red variety. Incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards won a slim 40,000 vote victory, with a majority of his vote coming from the minority community.
Democrats always seem to win over the black community with promises of better times ahead. Yet looking back, Democrats in Louisiana have held the governor’s office for 79 of the past 100 years, not to mention party control of the Legislature for most of those years. Are minorities satisfied with the progress? I guess so.
Edwards support base was minorities, teacher unions, labor unions, trial lawyers and the Democratic Party. But that was not who elected the Republican majority in the Louisiana House and Senate.
So while Edwards may be planning his agenda and how he wants to share the spoils of victory with those who elected him, an overwhelming majority of the Legislature will be dancing to a much different tune. They need to deliver for the base that elected them—and those people are far from the same as those who re-elected Edwards. In fact, their views are pretty much the opposite.
The battle is looming and it starts with the races for Speaker of the House and Senate President. The Legislature is more politically red and more conservative with many new faces. Those who work and lobby at the Capitol worry it could be a long, four-year battle.
Republicans repeat mistake
The one thing Republicans said they couldn’t let happen again—did. Eddie Rispone and his team repeated history attacking their fellow Republican candidate—despite a pledge not to do so—and the Louisiana Republican Party stood by and watched. The end result was the same as 2016.
State Republican Party Chairman Louis Gurvich and the party did not learn from a disastrous history four years ago when former U.S. Sen. David Vitter spent thousands to trash his two Republican opponents in the primary and the party just sat by and watched.
While both U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and Rispone had agreed not to attack one another, Rispone was trailing in the polls and reneged on that agreement and spent hundreds of thousands to attack Abraham with misleading ads. The party did nothing.
Once again, Rispone, like Vitter, made the runoff but couldn’t unite Republicans and overcome the bitterness he caused by disparaging a good man and public servant at the advice of his out-of-state consultants. He has to live with that poor decision—and we do as well.
And so too does the state Republican Party, which showed no leadership or courage and should be ashamed for making the same mistake—and getting the same result—a Democratic governor.
Baton Rouge is changing
How much do you know about East Baton Rouge Parish?
The Baton Rouge Area Foundation recently released its CityStats for 2019, produced in conjunction with Public Policy Research Lab (You read it here). You’ll notice how things have changed over the years. Our population now stands at 440,956, with 76% born here. The parish demographic breakdown is 48% white, 44% black, 4% Hispanic and 3% Asian. On age, 52% are under the age of 34, and 25% are 55 or older.
Our Baton Rouge parish public school system now has 39,187 students, down 9% since 2009. (In 1979, the system had 67,000 students.)
The stats show we have fewer jobs today than we did in 2014 and 2015, and 90% of respondents said better job opportunities is what will keep young people from continuing to leave Baton Rouge. The poll said 45% believe we are going in the “wrong direction,” compared to 38% in the “right direction.” What do you think, and will that change in 2020?
We must “think different” to change some of these stats—and think fast.
College campus chaos
What is going on these days on college campuses? We remember the protests over the Vietnam War. But now we see protests, and even violence, over such things as stock investments and guest speakers on campus. Is this for real?
Recently at the Harvard-Yale football game, a sit-in protest broke out at halftime, with students and professors from both universities going onto the field and taking a seat on the turf. The protest was over climate change, with students demanding both universities stop funding fossil fuel companies. The game was delayed some 40 minutes and ticket-buying fans booed the protesters. Of the couple hundred who took to the field, 42 would not leave and were arrested.
One student said, “Our goal was to spread the word.” OK, it’s a free country, but just like my complaint about former NFL quarterback Collin Kaepernick, take your fight outside and protest on your own time—not during the entertainment that fans paid to see. No one came to watch these students hold signs and sit on the 50-yard line.
Harvard and Yale issued a joint statement saying the protest was “regrettable” during the game while other students were trying to play football, but they added, “The Ivy League stands firmly for the right to free expression.”
That last statement about the “right to free expression” rings a little hollow these days on many college campuses. Most argue that a university campus is a place where liberals, conservatives, students, faculty and the administration should support free expression and the exploration of ideas, beliefs and opinions—even those you disagree with. But we have seen more protests and even violence on campuses to silence certain views and voices from even being heard. It’s absurd.
Recently, a speech by economist Arthur Laffer was shut down by protesters at Binghamton University in New York. No kidding, an economist. Laffer was an adviser to the late President Ronald Reagan, “the father of supply side economics,” and the creator of the Laffer curve. He is also a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And he can’t speak on a college campus? I wonder if Yale would let him speak?
Maybe they could book him as the halftime show at a football game.
NBA’s bad politics
I am wondering if the NBA is more about money and shoes than sports. That certainly seems to be the case with the China controversy over the free speech of Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey and his tweet, which read, “Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong.” All hell broke loose in the aftermath with China using its market muscle to whip the NBA into line and onto its knees begging for forgiveness. Embarrassing for America.
LeBron James, who sells lots of Nike shoes in China and elsewhere, called Morey’s comment “misinformed.” Former LSU star Shaquille O’Neal, on the other hand, defended Morey, saying “Daryl Morey was right—whenever you see something going on anywhere in the world, you should have the right to say, ‘That’s not right.’”
I agree with O’Neal that Morey has the right to express his views. At least Morey didn’t announce his support for Hong Kong during halftime of a nationally televised Rockets game.