By DIG Staff
The Louisiana gubernatorial election is about a month away and all the candidates are campaigning in full swing.
Hype for the race has been unsurprisingly low. A poll conducted by LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication states that public interest in the race has been meager with just 29 percent of residents claiming to follow news of the election closely. However, despite disinterest among the masses, the outcome of the race is poised to have a major impact on the state as we enter our post-Jindal cleanup process. Who spearheads the effort will dictate which route the state will take.
The news staff at Dig Magazine managed to catch up with the top four candidates to find out what problems, and solutions, these candidates think are most important to the future of Louisiana.
Largest Donation(s): $25,000 – 1st Franklin Financial
Perhaps the most well known on the list, but not necessarily for reasons that would make him proud, senior U.S. Senator David Vitter is the Republican frontrunner. He was poised to make a run at the position back in 2002, but was exposed soliciting prostitutes and backed down. He ran for Senator in 2004 and won outright, then won reelection in 2010. Vitter’s positions on social issues are typically conservative: anti-immigration, pro-life, pro-gun, anti-gay marriage. What’s not so usual for a candidate of his nature is his strong stance against gambling and. He’s been a renowned opponent of Indian casinos, along with enhancing background checks for guns.
Vitter often points to the comprehensive plan for his governor ship, if elected, during debates and speeches. He did the same for DIG.
“We face enormous challenges in Louisiana,” said Vitter. “But if we meet them head on—with strong leadership and real solutions—we can take advantage of historic opportunities and make great gains. Now more than ever, attack politics and vague rhetoric won’t cut it. We need a clear, detailed, and positive plan for our future, and I’m the only candidate with this comprehensive plan. It’s called Together, Louisiana Strong and you can read it at davidvitter.com.”
Largest Donation(s): $5,000 – Mostly private donors, but includes Acadiana Bottling & Vending, Angelle Architecht, LLC, and Agrilectric Power Partners, LTD.
A University of Louisiana Lafayette alum, Scott Angelle’s track record of politics dates back to his 4 year run from 2000 to 2004 as Parish President of St. Martin Parish. Since, he’s been the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources for 6 years, not counting his six month stretch as the Interim Lieutenant Governor in 2010, the same year he made the switch from Democrat to Republican. He currently serves as a District 2 member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission. His stance on social issues is also that of a normal conservative: pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-biblical marriage.
When asked what issues are at the top of his list, Angelle gave statements on four areas: workforce development, education, transportation, and fiscal reform. Here’s what he had to say about Louisiana’s dire financial situation:
“We should all be able to agree that there is a structural budget problem in Louisiana when we have our highest state gross domestic product and our highest non-farm employment in our history, yet still have a $1.6 billion deficit,” he said. “The reality is government has grown over the last decade, and now we are feeling the pains as it shrinks back down to an appropriate size that the taxpayers can afford to support. Our problem is that we are relying on an outdated, failed system of taxation and budgeting. We need to hit the reset button and go back to the drawing board on both our tax system and how we budget. To borrow a phrase from a popular TV show, it’s time for an extreme makeover.”
Largest Donation(s): $13,632.01 – Private Donor
Former Fighting Tiger, Jay Dardenne is the current Lieutenant Governor and has been since he took over for his current opponent, Scott Angelle. He was the Secretary of State in Louisiana from 2006 to 2010 and won on a platform of reform. Touting himself as a candidate for change, Republican Dardenne managed to win votes out of Baton Rouge, the suburbs of New Orleans, and, surprisingly, the heart of New Orleans, a typically Democratic city. As Lieutenant Governor, Dardenne has been an active supporter of charity events, the arts, and boosting tourism. He’s running on a platform of transportation reform, education prioritization, and general ethics.
“[We should] focus state resources on large projects and maintenance of state roads” said Dardenne. “Local projects should be funded locally, and local governments should be given the freedom to raise the revenue they need for these projects.”
Dardenne also said that he will force lobbyists to identify individual lawmakers or government employees they court, ban state employees from immediately going to work for companies that receive state contracts, and tighten the rules allowing communication and coordination between candidates, their campaigns, and Super PACs that support them.
John Bel Edwards
Largest Donation (s): $5,000 – Mostly private donors, but includes Wal Pac (Walmart Stores, LLC), Anheuser – Busch, and Twin Oakes Nursing Home.
The only Democratic candidate, John Bel Edwards is the current member of the Louisiana House of Representatives representing the 72nd district. He’s held the position since a tough win in 2008, but a landslide 83 percent to 17 percent reelection victory over Johnny Duncan in 2011. He’s a West Point graduate and also a practicing lawyer, having received his degree from the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center in ‘99. Only having held one publicly elected position is a drawback for him over other candidates, but being the only Democratic contender is sure to help, along with his outspoken criticism of Bobby Jindal’s frequent trips across the country to support other Republicans.
When asked by DIG reporters what his main concerns for Louisiana, Edwards, like all the other candidates, pointed to the budget.
“Louisiana has cut higher education more than any other state in the nation since Bobby Jindal took office. At the same time, we’ve raised tuition by 90 percent,” he said. “LSU was on the verge of filing for bankruptcy this year. We have a $12billion backlog in transportation and infrastructure projects, mostly created by Bobby Jindal while my opponents were cheering him on. Bobby Jindal diverted dedicated funds meant to be used for state worker healthcare, and the elderly in an attempt to cover up his bad budgeting habits. All these challenges can be met, but not with empty promises to reinvest in our people.”
However, Edwards says that the way to fixing our financial woes lies not in cutting taxes and spending, but by expanding Medicaid using federal dollars, cutting back on tax breaks for out of state interests, and cease using policies set by “out of state interests like Grover Norquist.”