Last week Elections Commissioner Suzanne Haik Terrell and State Rep. Tony Perkins, Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate, continued their in-party fighting over another controversial issue.
This new fight concerns whether or not Terrell is truly pro-life. The question is being asked by Perkins, who has been targeting Terrell ever since she was awarded an endorsement and $464,000 of coordinated campaign expenditures from the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Perkins is raising the issue that Terrell served as a co-host of the 10th Birthday Party for Planned Parenthood of Louisiana, an abortion rights organization, on Dec. 18, 1994, at the Louisiana Children's Museum in New Orleans.
All New Orleans City Council members were hosts, except Republican City Council member Peggy Wilson. Terrell refers to the incident as an innocent mistake by a staff member or someone at City Hall. She adamantly maintains her pro-life position and questions whether Perkins should be firing shots at anyone. She points to his involvement with the Woody Jenkins Senate campaign of 1996, which used a mailing list broker who represented David Duke and paid Duke a portion of the proceeds from a sale made to the Jenkins campaign.
In the view of a top Republican consultant, who requested anonymity, the Perkins-Terrell controversy will only help U.S. Congressman John Cooksey, who is avoiding the entire matter and observing Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment, which forbids one Republican from criticizing another. "Perkins has little or no money and is attacking Terrell to generate media attention," says the consultant, "but Cooksey looks the best by not getting involved."
Recently, Cooksey won the coveted endorsement of the Republican Party organization in Jefferson Parish. According to John Treen, the regional chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party in Jefferson Parish, the voting in their caucus showed a surprising result. "Suzie Terrell only won 15 percent of the vote, and the run-off was between Perkins and Cooksey, with Cooksey winning handily," Treen says.
Cooksey will need this momentum to gain ground against Landrieu, who continues to lead comfortably. An internal Republican poll finished last week, showed Landrieu with 56 percent of the vote, followed by Terrell and Cooksey in the high teens. If the Republican candidates continue to fire on each other, they will not be able to force a run-off against Landrieu in December.
Lavarine Followed by Lavarine?
Jefferson Parish Councilman John Lavarine has made no secret of his interest in succeeding Louis Congemi as mayor of Kenner. Congemi is reported to be interested in running for the Jefferson Parish Council next year when term limits open up all of the seats.
Now, Councilman Lavarine's son, David Lavarine, reports that he will be a candidate to replace his father on the Jefferson Parish Council. The younger Lavarine is a member of the Republican State Central Committee and is a well-known political player in the parish.
Competing against John Lavarine in his quest for the mayor's position will be Kenner Councilman Phil Capitano and possibly Kenner Police Chief Nick Congemi.
Blossman Secures Endorsements and Hits Airwaves
Public Service Commissioner Jay Blossman wasted no time in launching his bid for reelection to another six-year term representing District 1. Blossman has begun a high-profile advertising campaign with billboards, newspaper advertisements, direct mail and television advertisements. He also secured the endorsement of both the Alliance for Good Government and the Jefferson Alliance over his opponent, former commissioner John Schwegmann.
Schwegmann, who was greeting commuters near the northbound entrance of the Causeway last week, is hoping voters remember his record from his almost 16 years of service on the commission. At the recent Alliance for Good Government forum, Schwegmann was cordial to Blossman and spent the entire debate asking members to remember his own record, as opposed to criticizing Blossman.
If he wants to gain any traction in the final few days of the campaign, Schwegmann will have to start a major media campaign and begin to draw more dramatic differences between himself and his opponent.
Split Endorsements in Harahan Races
In the competitive race for mayor of Harahan between Council members Kerry Lauricella and Paul Johnston, both candidates could smile last week. Lauricella received the endorsement of the Jefferson Alliance, while Johnston won the endorsement of the Alliance for Good Government.
In the race to succeed John Doyle II as chief of police, Council member Tim Walker received the endorsement of the Alliance for Good Government, while fellow Council member Peter Dale received the endorsement of the Jefferson Alliance.