Look for busy political year

By By Jim Beam / American Press

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s pursuit of a fourth six-year term will be the headline political campaign in Louisiana in 2014.

Five of the state’s six U.S. representatives are also up for re-election on Nov. 4.

A number of local elections are scheduled during the year, and the Louisiana Legislature holds its regular session from March

10 to June 2.

The congressional campaigns will

determine the effectiveness of Republicans who are considered

ultra-conservative and tea

party advocates. They want President Obama’s Affordable Care Act

repealed, and they have no use for compromise on any issue.

They are targeting some sitting congressmen who voted for a budget

compromise earlier this month.

Voting for it were Reps. Charles

Boustany, R-Lafayette, who represents this area; John Fleming, R-Minden,

who represents the

4th Congressional District; Vance McAllister, R-Swartz, newly

elected to the 5th District; and Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge,

the 6th District. Voting against it were U.S. Reps. Steve Scalise,

R-Jefferson, the 1st District, and Cedric Richmond, D-New

Orleans, the 2nd District.

Cassidy is Landrieu’s chief opponent, and eight persons are considered potential candidates to replace Cassidy. Republican

Rob Maness is the third candidate in the Senate race, and he has tea party support. He is a retired Air Force colonel.

Area parishes will hold four elections

during the year. Municipal elections are scheduled April 5 (the primary)

and May 3

(the general election). Congressional races and parish and city

contests are on tap for the Nov. 4 open primary and the general

election on Dec. 6.

The Landrieu re-election campaign has

been in high gear during the latter half of 2013, and there have been

heavy doses of

charges and counter-charges. Voters can expect the pace to pick up

in the new year, with Landrieu’s continued and vocal support

of Obamacare considered her major liability. However, it will be a

plus for her among black voters, who have been her loyal

supporters in her previous election campaigns.

A November survey by Southern Media and

Opinion Research had Landrieu with a job approval rating of 46 percent.

Only 41 percent

of those surveyed said they supported her re-election. Cassidy

polled 34 percent, and Maness had 10 percent. Pollster Bernie

Pinsonat said the senator regularly polled well above a 50 percent

job approval rating.

Bill Dore, a local businessman with

financial resources, is supporting Landrieu and explained why in a

recent American Press

advertisement. Dore mentioned her work in helping pass the Restore

Act after the BP oil spill, her efforts to get additional

offshore oil revenue for Louisiana, the federal funds she got

after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, her ability to protect Fort

Polk from serious troop cuts and her Senate seniority.

Cassidy insists his record on those issues is also strong, and he attacks Landrieu’s support of President Obama.

“If you support the president 97 percent of the time — heck, you’ve got your gal,” he told a Lafayette town hall meeting,

according to the Los Angeles Times.

Political observers agree Cassidy’s major drawback is his name recognition. However, Cassidy said at a recent American Press

editorial board meeting he will rectify that shortcoming during his accelerated 2014 campaign.

The three-candidate field that could

grow even larger pretty much guarantees there will be a runoff in the

Senate race on

Dec. 6. And even though conservative groups said they will

challenge some the state’s U.S. House members, the odds still favor

the incumbents.

Sulphur will hold its municipal primary on April 5, with the runoff (general election) scheduled for May 3.

The ballot will be crowded Nov. 4,

unless a number of candidates are unopposed. The U.S. Senate and House

races top the ballot,

followed by contests for the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, judges

and district attorney of the 14th Judicial District, members

of the Calcasieu Parish School Board, and justices of the peace.

Municipal elections are scheduled in DeQuincy, Iowa and Westlake. The Ward 3-Lake Charles City Court will elect two judges

and a city marshal. The Ward 4-Sulphur City Court will elect a judge and city marshal.

Conservatives in the legislature are

focusing their session activities on the repeal of Common Core, a

controversial education

reform effort. They may also determine whether the Minimum

Foundation Program that funds public education should be changed.

Many of those same conservatives were responsible for changing the state budgeting process that will get its first serious

test during the new year.

Lawmakers and the Revenue Estimating

Conference will each have a hand in determining how to spend a rare and

unexpected $300

million budget surplus. There are almost as many ideas as there

are legislators. And we can expect a flood of proposed bills.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has only two years left on his term, and the big unanswered question is how much stroke he will have in

charting the state’s future course.

If you’re looking for political action, 2014 may be right up your alley.

Jim Beam, the retired editor of the American Press, has covered people and politics for more than five decades. Contact him at 494-4025

or jbeam@americanpress.com.