Saturday, September 17, 2005

Lousiana Politics

The state of Louisiana has always produced interesting politicians. From the infamous demogogue governor and later U.S senator Huey Long, to the recently incarcerated former governor Edwin Edwards. However, what is most interesting about Louisiana to me, is its resistance to the Republican Party, which now dominates politics in most southern states. Although Louisiana is not necessarily a haven of liberalism, it is a state that cherishes its differences that lie in its French heritage, it's history of corruption, and its "honky tonk" atmosphere that's exhibited at Mardi Graz celebrations all over the state.

Many would not have thought it possible for a state to come so close to electing the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan to be governor and in the same year elect a liberal democrat to be president. However, the citizens of Louisiana did beat the klansman, by sending corrupt democratic governor Edwin Edwards to the state mansion with the slogan "VOTE THE CROOK", and then awarding Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas for his charisma by electing him over the unappealing George Bush. Four years later, Bill Clinton proved to be more popular in Louisiana than in Connecticut or California, when he picked up 52% of the popular vote.

On Capitol Hill Louisiana has only recently begun to have significant G.O.P representation. It sent its first Republican to the U.S senate since Reconstruction last November. Before that, the senate seats had been occupied by centrist Democrats John Breaux and Mary Landrieu as well as a moderately conservative Democrat, Bennett Johnston. Traditionally, Louisiana Democrats have been populist in nature, meaning socially conservative but economically liberal.

Nevertheless, five of the seven U.S congressmen from the Pelican State are now republicans, one of which was previously a Democrat and switched in the 2004 election. The representative, Rodney Alexander was said by James Carville to be the "dumbest Democrat in D.C and now probably the smartest Republican"( More on Alexander's antics) However, 2/3 of the state legislature remains Democratic.

At, The Head Heeb, this blogger likens the election of Edwin Edwards to the Israeli Likud Party.

What will happen as a result of Hurricane Katrina?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

What Will Weiner Get?

Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY), conceded defeat to Fernando Ferrer in the New York Democratic mayoral primary. Although Weiner was not technically forced to cecede, as Ferrer didn't capture the necessary 40% of the popular vote necessary to avoid a runoff, Weiner was, in all probability, persuaded to support Ferrer and do whatever else possible to unite the party against Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Weiner made his decision after conferencing with Senator Chuck Schumer, whom the Times described as the congressman's mentor. Schumer, no doubt, advised Weiner that the penalty for spliting the party with a runoff election could be severe, especially considering the slim chances that Weiner would actually win such a race. Nevertheless, what's more interesting to speculate on are the benefits Weiner will receive for his surrender. Will his colleagues in Congress give him something in return? Will he get support for a senate bid, if he's interested, from the City Democratic structure?

Despite what the Neighborhood Retail Alliance says, come November, Fernando Ferrer will be a loser, with an unlikely chance to run for mayor or any other large public office again. But what will become of Anthony Weiner?, the man who might have betrayed his supporters, but who stayed true to his party.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Now It's Ferrer's Turn to Lose

Fernando Ferrer has a commanding lead in the Democratic primary with all but 10 precints reporting.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Joke

Courtesy of my Mom's friend...

Q. What is George Bush's position on Roe vs. Wade?

A. He really doesn't care how people get out of New Orleans.

The Eve of the Primary

Fernando Ferrer's lead is apparently shrinking among likely Democratic voters, says the Political Wire. Nonetheless, barring a major upset, the November election will pit the former Bronx president against Bloomberg. And, barring a major upset, Bloomberg will be spending another four years at City Hall.

New York is overwhelmingly Democratic, however, New York Democrats are mostly unappealing. While it seems that much of the distrust surrounding Democratic politicians comes from unfair stigmas associated with candidates that represent minority constituencies, such as Al Sharpton, none of the Democrats in the primary are in anyway inspirational. Ferrer has dubious friends. Gifford Miller, the city council speaker, spent constituent service money on advertising. Anthony Weiner, a New York congressman, and, more importantly, a huge underdog, has promised large tax cuts for everyone with incomes under $150,000, which seems to be fiscally insane. Virgina Fields, the Manhattan borough president has taken the opposite stance, declaring the need for a stock transfer tax. However, both Fields and Weiner seem to believe that tax hikes on the rich will solve the budget deficit.

It'd be interesting to hear serious commentary on the various Democrats in the race. None of the candidates are currently taken seriously by the media or, more importantly, the voters. In fact, the only opposition to the Bloomberg administration that has appealed to me so far has been from Park Advocates.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Hurricane Re-districting

Here is an intriguing story at Historians R Us. According to Jessica, the blogger, Katrina, which has displaced hundreds of thousands of New Orleans residents could have heavy political consequences for both the Louisianan and Texan political establishments. Louisiana, which is currently run by Democrats on a state and local level, is likely to lose many of its poorer residents, who are overwhelmingly Democratic, to Texas, which is currently hosting thousands of refugees in Houston and Dallas. Similarly, Texas, which is slightly Red, can expect an influx of Democrats.

Very interesting indeed. However, the situation is more promising for Republicans than Democrats. Although Texas is by far a more important state politically, the impact of the hurricane survivors in such a huge state is unlikely to be significant. Perhaps if many lower income Katrina victims concentrate in certain cities such as Houston or Dallas, which is very likely, they can have an affect on city politics, which is probably already Democratic. However, the political landscape could change dramatically in New Orleans and the surrounding parishes, where the wealthiest residents are the most likely to return to their previous lives. This could mean a Republican City Council, Republican mayor, and more Republicans in the state legislature.


2006 Predictions?

Is this going to be a typical mid-term election, occupying only one column on the front page of the New York Times, and even less in local newspapers? Or is 2006 going to bring such a change that it will merit a headline on all national and local publications?

Although it's foolish to predict that the latter will probably happen, it's becoming more and more possible by the day. The president's approval rating is at about 38% now, and it can only get lower if his party starts to desert him as well, which is highly unlikely. Nevertheless, the point is made: independents do not trust the president and, throughout history, nothing has better represented this sentiment than a major congressional upset, such as the 94 midterm elections, which allowed independents to show their disillusionment with the Clinton administration.

However, the 94 elections, although extraordinarily suprising, can be explained better than a possible 2006 upset. Many of the Republican victories, especially in the House, were representative of the general trend towards the GOP in the South, which was then fully coming out of its Democratic stranglehold. In fact, 1994 was the first year that the southern congressional caucus was Republican, despite the support that Republican presidential candidates got in the region. That type of drastic change in party demographics can't be anticipated in the near future. If the Democrats want to win, they're going to do it by appealing to moderate voters, they can't count on the "party treachery" that the Republicans have benefitted from in many conservative areas of the country.

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