When I was a child we were taught Santa Claus paid special attention to the stockings that hung by the fireplace. If we were good, we got candy canes. If not, we got lumps of coal.
Since Louisiana persists in holding federal elections during the Yuletide season (with some local contests thrown in for good measure), it's only fitting that my final election wrap of the year uses Santa's stocking stuffers as a metaphor for who won and who lost in the Dec. 10 runoffs. So, instead of "Da Winnas and Da Loozas," let's take a look at who's getting candy canes and who's getting lumps of coal from Santa's political gift bag.
New Orleans firefighters — After at least four decades of litigating back pay and retirement contributions from the city, New Orleans firemen will finally start getting their due — without causing cuts to other city agencies. The Landrieu Administration settled the litigation with fire fighters for $75 million, most of which will come from a 2.5-mill property tax that voters approved Dec. 10.
Gov. John Bel Edwards — Although his most high-profile political outing was his support of Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell's failed bid for the U.S. Senate, the race in which Edwards made a real difference was the contest for mayor of Baton Rouge. Former state Sen. Sharon Weston Broome, becoming the first woman mayor-president of East Baton Rouge Parish and the second African-American mayor of Red Stick. Scott Angelle's loss in the congressional race also removes one potential rival for JBE in 2019. Perhaps best of all, two recent polls showed the governor with voter approval ratings well above 60 percent.
David Vitter — The retiring U.S. senator got his last pound of political flesh from former Gov. Bobby Jindal and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle with Angelle's defeat in the 3rd Congressional District race. Jindal is an old rival, and Angelle refused to endorse Vitter after finishing third in the governor's race last year. Angelle's loss this election season was almost as dramatic as Vitter's in the gubernatorial race last year. Vitter also backed John Kennedy in the race to succeed him in the Senate, proving that he still knows how to get Republicans elected in Louisiana.
The Louisiana GOP — Republicans swept every major office except Baton Rouge mayor, proving that Louisiana's political river still runs red, at least in statewide and most congressional elections. A major challenge lies ahead, however: Who will succeed Vitter as the party's chief fundraiser, recruiter and political architect?
Congressman Cedric Richmond — He won re-election handily and then won a key vote to become chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, making him a major player on the national scene. For Louisiana, he becomes the Democratic bookend to Republican Majority Whip Steve Scalise. The two are close friends and a powerful one-two punch on issues important to the Bayou State.
Jefferson Parish business leaders — In the wake of the Mike Yenni sexting scandal, Jefferson Parish's business community emerged as the leading force for renewal of four critical tax propositions in a parish that is famously anti-tax. They stepped up on the condition that Yenni stay on the sidelines. Voters approved the renewals by wide margins.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the New Orleans City Council — Passage of the fire and drainage millages means no additional pressure on the city budget in 2017.
LUMPS OF COAL
Louisiana Democrats — They cheered Sharon Weston Broome's election as mayor of Baton Rouge, but in every other major election the Dems got shut out.
Team Jindal — Congressman Charles Boustany's third-place finish in the Senate race, followed by Angelle's dramatic loss in the race for Boustany's congressional seat, were rebukes for both former Gov. Bobby Jindal and puppet master Timmy Teepell.
Mike Yenni — The sexting scandal continues to haunt the embattled Jefferson Parish president, so much so that he couldn't play even a minor role in the effort to renew four important local tax measures. On top of that, Parish Councilman Ben Zahn's election as mayor of Kenner means Yenni could have one less ally on the council after a special election to succeed Zahn.
Scott Angelle — Four months ago he looked like a lock to win the 3rd Congressional District seat being vacated by Boustany, and had he won he would have been poised to be the GOP's best hope for governor against Edwards in 2019. Now he's just another guy who coulda been a contender.
Merry Christmas to all!