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Foster's Flirtations

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Elections Commissioner Suzanne Haik-Terrell, Congressman John Cooksey and state Rep. Tony Perkins must have felt like second-string cheerleaders last week. For months, the three Republican challengers to U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu gave their all for the team, only to see Gov. Mike Foster claim at the last minute that President George W. Bush was asking him to the prom, not them.

Worst of all, Foster's flirtations sent a clear signal to the whole country that the state's leading Republican -- and, according to him at least, the White House as well -- doesn't think any of the three GOP challengers could beat Landrieu.

Landrieu couldn't have asked for a better week. Foster couldn't have helped her more if he had endorsed her.

No doubt Terrell, Cooksey and Perkins are seething. They ought to be. All had planned to kick their campaigns into high gear this week. Each was expecting a major infusion of money and support from Republicans across the state and across the country. The primary is not until November, so there's time to recover, but Foster's prolonged "maybe-I-will, maybe-I-won't, but-maybe-my-country-needs-me" act (and some say privately it was all an act, including Foster's claim that Bush courted him) put the kibosh on their plans while he tarried. At a minimum, each of their campaigns lost a week, maybe two. Plus momentum.

Foster kept everybody guessing until Friday afternoon, even though no one could offer an intelligent reason for him to run. What kept everyone on edge is the knowledge that, like Louisiana's other geezer-politician, Lynn Dean, there's just no telling what Mike Foster might say or do. Never mind that he had everything to lose and not much to gain, starting with having to campaign on his record as governor against real opponents from both ends of the spectrum. Worst of all, if he had run and lost, he'd really be a lame duck.

On the other hand, had Foster run and won, he would have had to go to work -- in Washington. And he wouldn't have been in charge. His political friends (i.e., the ones who need him to be governor) must have been going crazy last week at the thought of him leaving them to answer to "Governor" Kathleen Blanco -- who already is running for governor, but would have run as an incumbent had Foster gone to the U.S. Senate.

The more I think about it, the funnier Foster's flirtations looked. So, with apologies to David Letterman, I'll close with my own version of the Top Ten Reasons Why Mike Foster Didn't Run for the United States Senate:

10. There are no mallards on the Potomac. And even if he spots one, he can't shoot it.

9. He won't go to New Orleans for a day. Why ask people to send him to Washington for six years?

8. The feds won't let him ride his Hawg on the National Mall.

7. The District of Columbia does not have a "concealed carry" gun law.

6. Murphy would also have to move to D.C. in order to lobby the U.S. Senate on behalf of federal agencies.

5. David Duke's mailing list doesn't contain any names inside the Beltway.

4. BP/Amoco doesn't have a federal tax problem -- or any "extra" swampland in Virginia.

3. A work week in the U.S. Senate lasts longer than two and a half days.

2. The FAA will not let him fly a government chopper. Not anywhere. Not ever.

And the No. 1 reason why Mike Foster didn't run for the United States Senate ...

1. The Georgetown Law Center won't honor credits from Southern.

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