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Opinion: Lou Gehrig Burnett – A busy week in politics

A busy week in politics

Red River dredging urged

Louisiana’s two senators and five congressmen have sent a letter to senior officials within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging them to reallocate any possible funding toward the dredging of an important segment of the Red River, which has experienced historic flooding in the last 12 months.

U.S. Sen. David Vitter said: “Not only has the historic flooding in Louisiana over the last year devastated entire communities, but the lack of dredging the Red River will also make it extremely difficult for commerce to continue.”
He added, “Right now, the state is millions of dollars short of what they need to dredge the Red River, which is why reallocating any available funds immediately must be a top priority for the Amy Corps.”

In the letter, addressed to Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, and Colonel John Cross, who heads the Vicksburg District for the Corps of Engineers, the delegation urged the dredging of the J.Bennett Johnson Waterway segment of the Red River from Alexandria to Shreveport.
They stressed that the state needs at least $2.7 million to maintain the authorized 9-foot deep by 200-foot wide channel in the J. Bennett Johnston segment of the Red River.
Controversy over Senate forum

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) is under fire over a Louisiana U.S. Senate forum it held on June 29. The forum was co-sponsored by the Louisiana Restaurant Association and the Louisiana Retailers Association.
The controversy developed when NFIB invited only four candidates to participate. Currently, there are 11 potential candidates.
The four invited to participate were Republicans Charles Boustany, John Fleming, and John Kennedy and Democrat Foster Campbell, who did not participate because of a scheduling conflict.

NFIB defended its decision to invite only those candidates by deciding that a candidate had to have received five percent of the vote in a May poll conducted by Southern Media and Opinion Research, which it said was the only independent poll.
In that poll, Kennedy had 32%, Boustany 10%, Campbell 9%, and Fleming 5%. Republican Rob Maness and Democrat Caroline Fayard both had 4% and were therefore excluded from the forum.

But Fayard was quick to note that the SMOR poll was paid for by Lane Grigsby, one of Kennedy’s major contributors. She said in a press release, “Imposing an arbitrary restriction on who can participate in a U.S. Senate forum based on partisan polling data is undemocratic, insulting, and it smacks of insider, good ole boy cronyism.”

If NFIB had used an average of three recent polls on the U.S. Senate race, Fayard would have been included in the forum. The averages are Kennedy 29%, Campbell 13%, Boustany 11%,, Fayard 9%, Fleming 7%. Maness, with 4%, would still have been excluded.

There will certainly be more polls and forums to come. It will be interesting to see what guidelines other forum sponsors will impose.

Governor boosts Campbell campaign

Governor John Bel Edwards gave a boost to U.S. Senate candidate and fellow Democrat Foster Campbell this past Thursday.

Edwards was the special guest at a high-dollar fundraiser for Campbell. A large crowd was on hand at the 421 Texas Street venue for the event.
Campbell raised $300,000 for Edwards’ gubernatorial campaign with two north Louisiana fundraisers, and the governor returned the favor by attending the fundraiser for Campbell.

Edwards spoke briefly about the state’s current fiscal situation, then launched into an endorsement of Campbell, saying, “I need Foster in the Senate because he will be someone I can work with for the betterment of Louisiana.”

Campbell is widely regarded as a favorite to make the runoff against one of the Republican candidates.

Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.

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