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Carlson: Consider the record…not the party

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Consider the Record…not the Candidate

A recent news story suggesting that Republicans are looking to redouble their efforts to maintain the current Republican hold on the on the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Senator David Vitter in the face of Democrat John Bel Edwards’ successful run for Louisiana governor made it sound like this is some sort of historic anomaly. It’s also another indictment of the fourth estate, which historically has been seen as a vanguard of ensuring open government and as such serving as an unbiased observer, reporter, and editorial commentator on the activities of our governments – local, state and federal.

Given today’s national media, maybe it’s time to do our own research – and most important, consider the candidate’s actual record instead of the party affiliation. That recent news story noted that John Bel Edwards was the first Democrat candidate to win a Louisiana statewide race since 2008. Notably, 2008 is only eight years ago. On the Louisiana historic political timeline, that’s a fairly short period of time.

And that political timeline ought to be of interest to serious Louisiana voters because it doesn’t take too much effort to recall that Republican and Democrat governors have alternated in serving Louisiana since about 1979 when Republican Governor Dave Treen was elected, breaking the nearly century long Democrat hold on the governor’s office. Since then, the governor’s office has seen something of a rotation of party representation – Buddy Romer was a Democrat before he was a Republican; Edwin Edwards remains a stalwart Democrat; Murphy J. Foster took back the office for the Republican party – and Kathleen Blanco put it back in Democrat hands. Apparently, for a majority of Louisiana voters, Republican Bobby Jindal’s budget busting style and Republican David Vitter’s infidelity were reasons enough to look to John Bel Edwards to restore Louisiana’s political and fiscal future.

Although more than a few political “experts” and prognosticators have worked to explain Edwards’ win, there are doubtless more than a few Louisiana voters who weighed Bobby Jindal’s last eight years on the disastrous fiscal front. Then there was the SAVE Act – an embarrassing political paper tiger that allowed Jindal to appease Grover Norquist by creating a $1,500 assessment per higher education student to raise an estimated $350 million – but only on paper. Students wouldn’t pay the assessment the state would collect no maney … but Jindal’s tax pledge would be secure.

John Bel Edwards was among the minority of House members voting no for this scam. But the majority vote in both houses were Republicans voting in the affirmative. And Edwards spent an entire campaign explaining what he believes are the state’s chief and primary issues – and certainly looks ready to devote four years of hard work trying to put us back on the right track.

After eight years of Republican leadership in Baton Rouge and, in keeping with a fairly regular gubernatorial party change, Louisiana voters have looked to a Democrat who appears committed to Louisiana’s future to straighten what looks to be a catastrophic budget situation for our state.

Until fairly recently, a Republican couldn’t get elected in Louisiana – as evidenced by a long history of local governments being run by Democrat office holders. That was certainly true in Bossier Parish not so long ago, but then along came Republican President George W. Bush – whose gun-slinging style was at first greatly appreciated by Americans in the face of 9-11, and became great recruiter for the Republican party. I recall a conversation with then Sheriff Larry Deen, who I asked about a rumor that he’d changed parties from life-long Democrat to Republican. he advised me that it wasn’t just him, that Bossier Parish Clerk of Court Joan Carraway and District Attorney Schuyler Marvin had also changed parties.

Given the history of party affiliation and performance, party affiliation should be the least of our concerns. Credibility, commitment and conviction to best represent our interests should be the first.

Marty Carlson is a columnist for the BPT. She may be reached at martycarlson1218@gmail.com.