Since Suzanne Terrell's loss to Mary Landrieu in the Senate election, many Louisiana Republicans have been pointing fingers at those they deem responsible for the defeat. Some Republicans believe that Landrieu should have been defeated with a popular president campaigning in the state on behalf of Republican challenger Terrell. Terrell finished with 48.4 percent of the vote, but received massive funding from the Republican Party and uncoordinated assistance from a variety of special interest groups.
At least one local Republican leader, State Central Committee member and secretary of the Republican Party of Jefferson Parish Vincent Bruno, believes that there was a lack of local involvement in Terrell's campaign and that the Terrell campaign relied too heavily on the Republican National Committee (RNC). "At least Landrieu realized that she had to take control of the campaign herself," he says. "The RNC has failed miserably in Louisiana time and time again, but they keep doing it." Bruno cites the 1986 Henson Moore campaign as another example of RNC mismanagement of a Louisiana Senate race.
Bruno, a staunch supporter of primary third place finisher Congressman John Cooksey, is upset about what he calls "dirty campaign tactics" that national Republican groups like the National Republican Senatorial Committee Party used to push Terrell's candidacy. He also blames the Louisiana Republican Party for not organizing precinct level GOTV campaigns and for relying too much on automated phone calls. Bruno complains that communication was poor and says local party leaders were not notified when dignitaries were in the state campaigning on behalf of Terrell, leading to poor attendance at campaign events. "If the state and national party leaders do not start paying attention to local leaders, they are headed for disaster," he says.
Perkins for Treasurer
Baton Rouge State Rep. Tony Perkins finished fourth in the U.S. Senate primary, receiving about 10 percent of the vote. Since that time, there has been speculation about his political future. Perkins is a strong economic and social conservative Republican who performed better than many expected in the Senate race. He was elected as state representative in 1995 and is seen as a hero to many Louisiana evangelical Christian activists. Before the Senate race, Perkins was aiming for the lieutenant governor's position; however, now his focus is on the job of state treasurer, according to a close friend. Current State Treasurer John Kennedy will most probably be running for governor and thus vacating the position. For the past few years, Perkins has made economic development in Louisiana one of his major campaign themes, promoting a plan called "Invest Louisiana" that would eliminate corporate franchise and income taxes as a way to lure corporate jobs to the state.
Battle for Park and Ride
For eight years, Hotard Coaches Inc. has held the city of Kenner's contract to provide Park and Ride services for residents that work in the Central Business District of New Orleans. The last contract expired in September, and Kenner and Hotard have been operating on a month-to-month basis since that time. Currently, Hotard charges the city $82 per hour to shuttle passengers between Kenner and New Orleans. In March, four bids were received, but only two have made the final cut: New Orleans Tours and Hotard. Hotard's original bid was $74 per hour, but after that was matched by New Orleans Tours, Hotard has dropped their price to $70 per hour. The public will get a chance to give their input at a public forum on Jan. 2. The Kenner City Council will vote on the issue on Jan. 16.
Duke Relies on McPherson
After almost three years abroad, David Duke slipped back into Louisiana last weekend with no fanfare. He was met at the airport by his daughters and has remained in seclusion since that time. As first reported in this column, Duke's attorney Jim McPherson has been negotiating with federal authorities on a plea bargain on criminal charges. The government is looking into potential violations in two areas: income tax violations on the sale of a mailing list of Duke supporters to then-candidates Mike Foster and Woody Jenkins and mail fraud involving how Duke spent money sent to him from contributors. With Duke back in Louisiana, those negotiations should now proceed with greater speed. According to one insider, Duke viewed the trial of former Gov. Edwin Edwards with alarm and does not want to face the prospect of high legal bills and a potential conviction with a longer prison term. Vincent Breeding, national director of Duke's EURO organization, believes that Duke is in good hands with McPherson. "If we had millions for a legal team we would fight all of these charges, but we are relying solely on Jim McPherson now," says Breeding.