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The name of the game

Money.  That’s the name of the game, and the game is well underway for the U.S. Senate race in 2014.  And an expensive game it will be.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is seeking a fourth six-year term.  Her main challenger thus far is Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge.  Another GOP candidate, retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness, has also entered the fray.

The Federal Election Commission has not yet posted the contributions candidates received in the second quarter (April, May, and June), but the political camps of Landrieu and Cassidy are already touting their successes.

With less that 16 months to go before the election, Landrieu, not surprisingly, continues to lead in the  money game.  She reported raising $1.67 million in the second quarter, bringing her war chest total to $4.86 million cash on hand.

Cassidy, meanwhile, revealed that his campaign raised $1.1 million in the second quarter to boost his total war chest to $3.26 million.

Maness, on the other hand, said he has raised about $40,000 in 40 days of campaigning.  He realizes he has a big hill to climb to match the fundraising prowess of Landrieu and Cassidy, but is hoping his grass roots  effort will take hold.

One thing is for sure.  There is a long way to go and much more money will be flying into the campaign coffers of Landrieu and Cassidy.

How much will the race cost the combatants?  In 2010, Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter spent $12.7 million on his re-election bid.  His main opponent, Democratic U.S. Rep. Charles Melancon spent $4.7 million.

Vitter won in the primary with 57% of the vote with Melancon coming in second with 38%.  Ten other candidates received the rest of the vote.

When Landrieu last sought re-election in 2008, she spent $11.3 million to win in the primary with 52% of the vote.  Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy received 46% of the vote after spending $4.8 million.

Nevertheless, the 2014 U.S. Senate race in Louisiana is expected to be the most expensive one in history for the state.

Democrats are determined to keep Landrieu’s seat in an effort to keep control of the U.S. Senate, while Republicans have targeted it as vulnerable and obtainable.  To be sure, money will be no object for either candidate.

By the way, the job of a U.S. Senator, as well as a U.S. House member, pays $174,000 a year.


What’s Vitter up to?

Republican U.S. Sen.  David Vitter’s name is tossed around a lot these days in political circles. Louisiana’s junior senator, who is serving his second six-year term, is not up for re-election until 2016.

But the buzz is over whether he will run for governor in 2015.  Adding fuel to that rumor mill fire is the fact that a super PAC that  supports Vitter has raised a whopping $750,000 in the past six months.

The super PAC, known as The Fund for Louisiana’s Future, was set up to help Vitter with his re-election to the U.S. Senate – or a gubernatorial bid.

Those funds are not part of Vitter’s regular campaign financing committee.  As of March 31, 2013, Vitter had $819,000 in his campaign war chest.  He has not yet reported how much money his campaign raised over the second quarter in April, May, and June.

Already declared as candidates for governor are Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards of Amite.

Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy said on Tom Pace’s Talk of the Town radio show last week that he will take a look at the race as it gets closer to the Fall 2015 election date.

Also making noises about running is Republican state Sen. Gerald Long of Winnfield.  New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s name is also in the mix.

A big question, of course, is who will loyalists of Gov. Bobby Jindal support if Vitter is in the race since Jindal and Vitter have vying factions within their party.


Campbell: Hard to beat

Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, D-Bossier City, is the consummate politician, who is genuinely concerned about the people he represents.  In other words, he is a rarity in politics these days.

He will be running for a third six-year term on the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) in 2014.  He was elected to the District 5 seat on the five-person governmental body in the fall of 2002.

Prior to that, Campbell served for 26 years as the state senator from District 36.  He is a lifelong  Democrat and has no plans to change political parties.

Often referred to as a populist, a politician who works hard to represent the common people over the elites, Campbell regularly visits the parishes he represents to get input from his constituents.

So after 37 years in elected office, just how popular is Campbell?  Florida pollster Jim Kitchens, had this to say: “He is not suffering from the anti-incumbent  feeling among many voters toward their public officials.”

Kitchens conducted a poll in the 24 north Louisiana parishes represented by Campbell on the LPSC.  The results: Campbell has a 91% favorable rating among voters 65 and older.

Among Democrats, his favorable rating is 59% compared with 13% unfavorable.  Among African-American voters, his favorable is 60% with only 7% viewing him as unfavorable.

Among Republicans, Campbell received a 37% favorable and a 35% unfavorable.  But voters who described themselves as conservatives gave him a 58% favorable and a 23% unfavorable rating.

Kitchens concluded: “Campbell has broad-based support across north Louisiana.  His image is strong, and he is well-positioned to win re-election next year.”


No help for handicapped

At Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s urging, the Louisiana Legislature has voted not to return to Baton Rouge for a special session.  The House had the votes for veto override session, but the Senate did not.  Both bodies must agree.

Latest information reveals that 67 of 105 House members, a majority, voted for a special session, while only 13 of 39 senators did, defeating the effort.

Various legislators and organizations were pushing for the special session to restore line item vetoes by Jindal that struck more than $6 million from the budget that would have paid for services for the disabled.

Among the programs that felt Jindal’s veto knife were a program that provides at-home services to the developmentally disabled, domestic violence programs, and children’s health clinics.

Area House members who favored the veto session were state Reps. Roy Burrell (D), Thomas Carmody (R), Kenny Cox (D), Jim Morris (R), Barbara Norton (D), and Patrick Williams (D).

Voting against a special session were state Reps. Richie Burford (R), Henry Burns (R), Alan Seabaugh (R), and Jeff Thompson (R).

Area state Sens. Robert Adley (R), Barrow  Peacock (R), and Greg Tarver (D) voted against having a special session.



Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal made a surprise visit to Nicholls State University this past Friday to take his son, Shaan, to the Manning Passing Academy.

And he came with a check in hand for $1.2 million for improvements to the 20-acre plot of land that holds 25 football fields the Academy uses.

“I am excited to be here not only at Nicholls, but to be here with Mannings,” Jindal said.  He noted that the $1.2 million was needed to ensure the future of the Manning Passing Academy.

Former Saints quarterback Archie Manning hosts the camp with his sons Peyton (Denver Broncos), Eli (New York Giants), and Cooper.

To be sure, Shaan had to receive a lot of special attention from the Mannings and Nicholls officials.

The revelation of the money gift caused one political wag to speculate about why the Mannings did not make a monetary gift to Nicholls, which they surely could afford, which would have allowed the governor to use the taxpayers’ money for other needed purposes.

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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