For a man considered the underdog in the race for Congress, radio talk show host Robert Namer sounds confident about his chances of defeating incumbent Congressman David Vitter, who, last week, officially announced his candidacy for re-election. Namer hints of major bombshells dropping in the weeks ahead and says that he has been focused on traveling the district to meet with the voters and elected officials. "I have met with 90 percent of the district's elected officials and received a very favorable response, and that is what caused him to announce last week," says Namer, who adds that he has 400 yard signs up in the district and another 200 ready to go.
Concerning Gov. Mike Foster, who has expressed displeasure with Vitter recently, Namer says, "He has reached out, but I don't know if he will support me. Mike Foster owes me. I got his transition money for him and he would not be sitting in Baton Rouge if not for Robert Namer." Namer doesn't know if he will eventually receive Foster's endorsement, but believes that he deserves it, saying, "Anyone who is a man pays back his debts." Namer is looking to spend up to $1 million in a race against Vitter and more if others join the campaign -- but, as of now, he doesn't expect company in his quest to unseat the incumbent.
Fields and the Field
The latest news in the U.S. senate race: State Sen. Cleo Fields is now seriously considering a challenge to incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu. Fields has been upset with Landrieu ever since the 1995 governor's race, when Landrieu refused to campaign for Fields in the run-off against Gov. Mike Foster. Last week, Fields said on a Baton Rouge talk show that, rather than vote for Landrieu, he would vote Republican for the first time in his life. He did not specify his choice, but most politicos assume that Fields would be supporting Elections Commissioner Suzanne Haik-Terrell, who is expected to announce her Senate candidacy this week. An insider in the Terrell camp confirms that conversations were held with Fields, but that negotiations for his support broke down. Now, Fields is seriously considering the race himself and will decide by August.
The other GOP candidates are Congressman John Cooksey and state Rep. Tony Perkins. Last week, Perkins announced that he raised $200,000 in just three weeks, impressing some who did not view his campaign seriously. Cooksey will be able to raise a large sum of money Monday, July 8, when U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert hosts a fundraiser for the congressman in New Orleans.
Landrieu remains the favorite, but these developments indicate she is becoming more vulnerable to a run-off. If Fields runs, there is a possibility that two Democrats may make the run-off; if a Republican makes the run-off, that candidate will have the strong support of President George W. Bush, who should be able to make numerous trips to the state. Qualifying for the Senate race will be Aug. 2123, and the election will be held Nov. 5.
Back in Bucktown ...
The controversial plans to re-develop the Bucktown Marina led to a crowd estimated as high as 500 to cram a June 25 JEDCO hearing. All sides agree that most at the hearing were opposed to the development. According to Peggy Poche, treasurer of the Bucktown Civic Association, her group has gathered a petition with 650 names demanding that the project be stopped. Poche and her group support a marina and recreation development, but oppose plans for commercial development. Her group is canvassing the neighborhoods in and around Bucktown asking residents to contact the Army Corps of Engineers to express displeasure with the project. The public comment period ends in two weeks, and the Jefferson Parish Council will take up the issue at its July 17 meeting. Poche is hoping the Council will take no action on the Bucktown issue.
Supporting the project is JEDCO Director of Port and Public Affairs Pete Chocheles, who believes the Bucktown Marina project has a tremendous amount of support in Jefferson Parish: "There are 24,000 boaters who have waited for a project like this for years. There is a demand for a marina because the New Orleans Municipal Yacht Harbor and others have a waiting list."
Chocheles admits that increase in traffic is a legitimate concern, but he believes it will be partially alleviated by the widening of Hammond Highway. Chocheles says that the controversial retail and commercial development is necessary to make the marina project financially feasible, and he predicts the marina would increase property values in the Bucktown area.