Wednesday, October 16, 2019

WHAT HAPPENED ELECTION NIGHT IN LOUISIANA?


Thursday, October 17th, 2019
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

WHAT HAPPENED ELECTION NIGHT IN LOUISIANA?

As Gomer Pile insightfully said:  Surprise, Surprise, Surprise.  There were a number of them on election night in the Bayou State. Governor John Bel Edwards’ quest for a first primary victory fell flat as several factors in the final days of the campaign caused his poll numbers to plummet.  Now voters can look forward to a nasty runoff, with the airwaves filled with a boatload of negative TV and radio spots.

Turnout for this first primary election was a little better than average, but the tremendous turnout that was predicted never materialized.  Some 45% of registered voters went to the polls, or a total of 1.34 million people turning out.  Remember that only half of those folks who are eligible to vote have not registered.  That means that 23% of the population is actually picking the leaders for the next four years.

What happened to predictions that Gov. Edwards would win a first primary victory?  Those prognosticators made predictions based on polls taken 10 days out from election day. But then two things happened. The Republican Governors Association blitzed televisions sets statewide with a negative spot charging Gov. Edwards with ignoring sexual harassment accusations against a top aide in his office.

The Governor’s response was weak, with a handful of women on TV saying how supportive he was on women’s issues.  But the charges of ignoring the sexual harassment claims were never strongly addressed.  In the new world of #MeToo, John Bel’s judgement was seriously questioned by many undecided voters.

Then there was the Trump factor.  The President initially stayed out of the race, but in the final days he came to Lake Charles, his son spoke to a large rally in Lafayette, and he regularly tweeted that Gov. Edwards was “a Nancy Pelosi/Chuck Schumer Democrat, who does nothing but stymie all of the things we are doing to Make America Great Again. Don’t be fooled, John Bel Edwards will NEVER be for us.”  Pretty heavy attack against the Governor who the President has called his “favorite democrat.”

When the election dust settled, the Governor was forced into a runoff with republican businessman Eddie Rispone, John Bel received only 46% of the vote.  A third candidate, Congressman Ralph Abraham, immediately pledged full support to Rispone, and the President promised to actively campaign for him in the November 9th runoff.  So John Bel Edwards, the only democratic southern governor, looks ahead to the fight of his political life.

In the first primary, Edwards praised his own past performance, and Rispone spent millions of dollars attacking the Governor’s record.  Wouldn’t it be refreshing in the runoff if the candidates spent time talking about the state’s future?

The other highly contested statewide race was for commissioner of insurance.  Many political observers felt that challenger Tim Temple had incumbent commissioner Jim Donelon on the ropes. Donelon had raised most of his campaign money from insurance interests, including taking $20,000 from an insurance executive who was charged with bribing an insurance commissioner.

Donelon’s TV commercials lobbed a number of erroneous charges against Temple, while the challenger tried to stay on the high road.  Voters will complain they don’t like campaign mud being thrown.  But pollsters will say that negative campaigning works. To heck with the serious issues facing the state. Just spend your campaign cash beating up on your opponent.

Temple also erred in playing up his insurance background. Ouachita Citizen publisher Sam Hanna perceptively observed that the race “was just one insurance guy against another insurance guy.” Many policyholders wanted a commissioner who was looking out for them, not the insurance companies.  Donelon will be past 80 in the next statewide election, so Temple, who has built up strong name recognition, will be a solid favorite to win the office in 2023.

Both the Democratic and Republican Governor’s Associations will pour several million dollars in to their respective gubernatorial campaigns.  This will be the most expensive statewide election in the state’s history. And get ready voters. There will certainly be a lot of political mud in the air over the next few weeks.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.



Wednesday, October 09, 2019

LABOR OF LOVE TO VOTE!


Thursday, October 10th, 2019
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

LABOR OF LOVE TO VOTE!

People early voted in record numbers for Saturday’s first primary election.  Here in Louisiana, election participation was up 25% over the gubernatorial election just four years ago. Predictions proved true that as many as 35% or more of total voters will cast their ballots before Election Day.

Pollster John Couvillion released figures showing many Louisianans either early voted by person or by mail in ballot (340,480 in person, and 33,710 mail in ballots). To put this number in perspective, Couvillion concluded that this is the highest early voting turnout ever for a non-Presidential election. 
I personally feel that fall elections should be moved to the spring. There is just way too much competition on busy fall Saturdays.  As I wrote last week, there are plenty of things to draw a voter’s attention with LSU football, numerous fairs and festivals, and a busy squirrel season weekend.  Voting should be at the top of one’s list, but that’s just not always the case for many people. 
Because of so much election interest, I figured I would beat the crowd and absentee vote. It became a real labor of my civic responsibility. The line was long around the local early voting location at the State Archives in Baton Rouge.

As the line I was in continued to move forward, I checked out some of my fellow about-to-be voters.  That older lady with a face-lift and the Sketcher Shape-Ups?  Definitely Rispone or Abraham voter.  How about the guy right in front of me wearing Birkenstocks and a t-shirt that says: “FAUX News – where facts don’t matter?”  Has to be a sure thing for John Bel Edwards.

On the wall a little closer up, there is a stop sign that says: “No political activity within 300 yards of this polling location.”  I came up with this idea to place such a sign at all polling locations back when I was Secretary of State and Louisiana’s chief elections officer in 1982.  Oh, yes, I did add: “Ordered by James H. Brown-Secretary of State.”  I thought it looked pretty good until, when it was time to run for re-election, my opponents hollered that I was the one who was doing the politicking.  Oh, well!

I finally arrived at the voting booth, gave my name, showed my photo ID (no big deal), and then asked the lady-polling commissioner if she had any doughnuts?  You see, back in the days when I was running for state senator in Northeast Louisiana, I always delivered boxes of doughnuts to each polling location. The voting commissioners loved it, and I’m sure they would occasionally volunteer a suggestion as to whom to vote for when a quizzical voter wandered in. And there were always extra doughnuts for voters who asked. This time, (37 years later) the lady looked at me like I was nuts.

I entered my voting booth along with the lady commissioner who inserted a little plastic card into my computerized machine. She must have figured I was too stupid to stick it in myself.  I made my choices, and like many voters, guessed at voting for a few candidates and propositions where I hadn’t a clue of how, or for whom to vote.  But I finished. I had done my civic duty.

But I felt a bit let down.  Is that all there is?  Maybe it was the candidates. I cannot remember one substantive solution to the state’s numerous problems offered by any of the three major contenders for governor.  Both parties seemed at constant political war, with a disregard of what’s in the best interest of Louisiana.

Whoever the victors for statewide offices are on Election Day, here’s hoping the winners will immediately set out workable agendas and specific goals for Louisiana in the coming four years. If not, here’s the encouraging news. It’s only 1,465 days until the next gubernatorial election.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.




Thursday, October 03, 2019

WHO’S GOING TO WIN ON LOUISIANA ELECTION NIGHT?


Thursday, October 3rd, 2019
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

WHO’S GOING TO WIN ON LOUISIANA ELECTION NIGHT?

With the Louisiana statewide election only a few days away, and with many voters already making their way to the polls, it would seem to be a good time for me to gaze into my crystal ball and make a prediction of just who will be successful after all the vote are tallied.  As many of you regular reader well know, I generally am right on the money.  (yeah, right!)

First of all, turnout.  Don’t be confused by the large number of voters showing up early to absentee vote.  High early numbers are relatively new in Louisiana.  You used to need a reason to vote early.  Not any more.  Election Day voting on October 12th will be fairly light, as many voters don’t want to wait until then.  There is too much competition.  After all, LSU plays 10th ranked Florida, there are numerous fairs and festivals, and it’s squirrel season.  Whose got time to vote?

So let’s begin at the top of the ticket.  Can Gov. John Bel Edwards carry off a first primary victory?  His two republican challengers are running neck and neck, even attacking each other, in hopes of forcing a runoff.  The Governor has spent some 11 million dollars and corralled a host of republican public officials and business men and women to endorse him in an effort to get just over 50% of the vote.  He’s been consistently running right at 48% in recent polls, with 10 to 12% of voters still undecided.  With a barrage of last-minute television, radio and mailing saturation, I predict that he will just top the needed 50% to win outright in the first primary.

There is little interest in most of the other statewide races on the ballot.  Surprisingly to many political observers, Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser and Attorney General Jeff Landry are heavily spending campaign dollars on their way to rather easy reelection victories.  But they are not throwing away their campaign cash.  Four years pass by quickly and look for both of these guys to be doing some early posturing for the governor’s race in 2023.

The one other statewide race that is garnering major attention is the battle for insurance commissioner.  It’s normally tough to beat a current statewide official.  But twelve-year incumbent Jim Donelon is in the fight of his political life. Donelon has been in public office for some 50 years, and told supporters he was ready to retire, then changed his mind.  Challenger Tim Temple, a Baton Rouge insurance executive, is making his first run for public office, and has both outworked and outspent the incumbent.  With Louisiana facing some of the highest insurance rates in the nation, Temple has aggressively made his compelling case for a change.  Look for Temple to be the only major candidate who will knockoff an incumbent statewide official.

There are four constitutional amendments on the ballot for voters to consider. They all are hard for many voters to understand and are unnecessary.  All the issues involved should and could have been handled by the Louisiana legislature.

Amendment one-A ridiculous amendment that would prohibit Louisiana from being able to tax goods, such as offshore drilling equipment, stored in the state but intended to be used off the coast.  But the U.S. Constitution already prevents states from taxing property destined for other states or countries.  So there is no reason for such a change.
Amendment two-Allows for appropriations from the Education Excellence Fund for the Louisiana Educational Television Authority, Thrive Academy, and laboratory schools operated by public post-secondary education institutions.”  This funding could have easily been handled by the legislature.

Amendment three-The board of tax appeals would be able to rule whether tax matters are constitutional under state or federal law. They board is not made up of lawyers and it’s not their job to determine what’s constitutional.

Amendment four- New Orleans would be allowed to create a residential property tax exemption.  Why on earth are voters in Monroe or Lake Charles voting on what New Orleans can or cannot do?  One more reason for the need of a constitutional convention. 

 But guess what?  All four amendments will pass. Voters just don’t seem to care anymore so we will continue to have a unwheeled and cluttered constitution. It will take a courageous governor to step up and start the process for such a change.  We will see next week if my predictions are correct.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.


Thursday, September 26, 2019

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER’S RACE IN THE SPOTLIGHT!


Thursday, September 24th, 2019
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER’S RACE IN THE SPOTLIGHT!

With absentee voting open and a Louisiana statewide election only days away, voters are making their final choices.  In the race for Governor, the undecided vote has dropped to around 10%, about normal prior to a gubernatorial contest just before election day.  But there is one other statewide race on the ballot.  Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance. Have voters made their choice in this important office?  Not by a long shot.

In the most recent statewide poll, conducted by JMC Analytics for the Louisiana Hospital Association, some 60% of voters remain undecided, a stunning low number at this stage of the election.  And even more surprising, the incumbent Commissioner Jim Donelon and challenger Tim Temple are in a dead heat, both polling around 20%.

Donelon has been around in public office for almost 50 years, is in his late 70s, and most political pundits predicted that he would not run again in this election cycle.  But he apparently can’t let go, so he’s giving it one more shot.  Temple is the new kid on the block, having never served in public office before. But he is knowledgeable on key insurance issues, and well
funded.  And with 80% of voters uncertain about Donelon’s effectiveness, Temple is making a charge to finish first.

It’s surprising that the electorate is not more focused on the insurance commissioner’s race.  It’s the only other contest on the ballot where an incumbent is facing a major challenge.  And insurance is a sore subject to just about everyone in Louisiana, who for years have faced he highest insurance costs in the nation. If the Bayou State were paying what the average southern state pays for insurance, policyholders would have some three billion dollars more in their pockets.  Yes, that right.  Three billion dollars more.  And that ain’t chump change.

Donelon puts the blame for high automobile rates on the legal system, and particularly trial lawyers.   But a recent study by the U.S Chamber of Commerce’s Institute of Legal Reform that showed Louisiana within the national average when it comes to per capita cost of law suits involving auto accidents.

So why are auto insurance costs so high in Louisiana? Here are some of the reasons.  High automobile rates are a combination of the following:

First of all, we as a state are not very responsible drivers. Louisiana has a disproportionate number of uninsured drivers, drunk drivers, untrained young drivers, speeding, running red lights, texting while driving, inattentiveness while driving, and a combination of all these factors that puts the Bayou State way below the norm when it comes to safe driving and enforcement of highway laws.  It’s going to take an Insurance Commissioner and a Governor to work together to develop a crackdown on irresponsible driving habits to see any significant drop in the cost of insurance.   

Secondly, the insurance department, under Donelon’s watch, has become tolerant of insurance companies that discriminate against certain driving categories.  As an example, did you know that there is a “widow penalty” allowed by the Department of Insurance?  That’s right.  If you have lost your spouse, you are charged as much as 15% more for your car insurance by many companies operating in Louisiana.

If you are a blue-collar worker or if you do not have a college degree, a number of insurance companies operating in Louisiana charge you significantly more, by as much as 15%. I’m puzzled as to that relates in being a safer driver. Wealthy drivers with a DWI pay less than drivers with a spotless record but a low credit score.  And in numerous cases, African Americans pay significantly more, as much as 70%, for their car insurance than whites according to the Consumer Federation of America.

Donelon is on the defensive for many of the reasons listed, but incumbency still carries sway in the Bayou State.  There is no democratic candidate running, so democratic voters will be decisive as to who the winner will be.  With Tim Temple on the attack and a huge undecided electorate, this race will be one of the most interesting to watch on election night.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.





Thursday, September 19, 2019

LITTLE INTEREST IN COMING LOUISIANA ELECTION!


September 19th, 2019
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

LITTLE INTEREST IN COMING LOUISIANA ELECTION!

According to national political pundits, there is a revolution going on all over America. Voters are in a rebellion mode with little confidence in the political leadership at both the national and state levels. Being an incumbent politician is no longer a badge of honor. A poll released recently and sponsored by the Washington Post and ABC news finds that “72% of Americans believe that politicians cannot be trusted and two thirds think the country’s political system is dysfunctional.

There are few states where voters are not rebelling against the status quo. “Throw the bums out” is the battle cry. “In the fall, fire ‘em all.”   But what’s happening way down in the deepest of the deep southern states? Is there a political upheaval and open voter uprising taking place? Have a wave of new candidates emerged to bring down incumbency and shake up the political establishment? Is current Governor John Bel Edwards in the fight of his political life? Hardly.

The typical reaction in the Bayou State, with a gubernatorial election just weeks away, might be summed up with a “Yawn…who are the Saints and the Tigers playing this weekend?” As of right now, it’s like the state is throwing an election party, with little interest and few who really care.

The qualifying period to run for office took place a month ago. Almost half of the legislative seats were filled with no challengers. Fifty state legislators were returned to office unopposed. In fact 43% of all offices on the ballot were filled without opposition. So why all the apathy? Why aren’t more Louisiana citizens interested in running for public office at a time when support for those in office is so low? It’s a combination or reasons.

First, there is a pervasive feeling that nothing is really going to change. Remember the 60s song by the Who titled “Won’t Get Fooled again?” The lyrics say: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” To many voters, there is a persistent impression that it really doesn’t make any difference who gets elected.

A big factor for a challenger is raising campaign contributions. And as the old saying goes, money is the mother’s milk of politics. Incumbents begin raising money for the next campaign right after they get elected. New rules make it much easier for state and national PACs to pour campaign dollars into the coffers of legislators. Challengers campaign against the cesspool politics at the state capitol. But once elected, the cesspool turns into a hot tub of campaign dollars.
Elections have become so expensive, driven by the cost of media, particularly TV commercials. Until recently, even statewide candidates traveled the state to campaign, and never missed a fair or festival. “Retail politics” made it possible to run a campaign on a reasonable budget. No more. Legislative campaigns can often run $500,000 or more, an obscene amount of money. Many challengers have been priced out of the political market.

The governor’s race often sets the tone for issues for many legislative races. But the two major challengers to Gov. Edwards have offered platitudes of generalities with few specifics for major government reform and restructuring. offering few alternatives. Their campaign platform is one of being “an aginner.”

The state is in only decent financial shape because of major tax increases, healthcare needs will require a massive infusion of funds in the years to come, education improvement is problematic, and the state’s infrastructure has been crippled for lack of maintenance. Yet few details by any candidate have been set out in a master plan for reform.

Two other reasons have caused voters to “tune out” in this year’s election. The failure of the state Democratic Party to recruit new candidates and the fact that Louisiana politics is not all that much fun anymore. We will explore these issues in a future column. As for now, don’t look for much excitement between now and Election Day in October.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.



Thursday, September 12, 2019

IS THERE ELECTION FRAUD IN LOUISIANA?


September 12th, 2019
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

IS THERE ELECTION FRAUD IN LOUISIANA?

Current Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin is under attack by the Louisiana Democratic Party that is charging Louisiana’s elections are vulnerable to election fraud.  The party ‘s recent statement reads: “Louisiana is one of the most vulnerable states for election interference in the nation because Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin has failed to address cyber security issues and has kept our out-dated voting machines at risk.”

Is there any truth to such charges?  I write with some knowledge of the voting system here in the Bayou Sate having served as Secretary of State for eight years. I have found little merit to such accusations. The current system works as well as any other state in the nation.

These “outdated” voting machines that so upset the state democratic party are actually less prone to a cyber-attack than the new systems that are used in many other states, since the Louisiana machines are not hooked up to the internet.

Rarely does an election take place down in the deepest of the deep southern states without allegations of some type of voter fraud. To this day, former Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate Jimmy Fitzmorris still sulks that his 1979 defeat in the governor’s race was caused by voter fraud. Republican Woody Jenkins still claims that his 1996 bid to defeat Senator Mary Landrieu was caused by a massive vote buying effort, particularly in New Orleans.
Vote buying and election fraud are, for all practical purposes, a thing of the past in Louisiana, although an occasional complaint is filed in local elections. But in days gone by, there were a number of creative ways to “stack” an election. Down in Plaquemines Parish below New Orleans, folks still remember the days of political boss Leander Perez, when there were often more votes cast then there were voters in the parish.
It used to be much tougher to absentee vote, with the average parish voting 5 to 10% absentee. When 40% of a parish voted before Election Day, you knew something was fishy. A local sheriff, or other official so inclined, would have his deputies haul voters into the courthouse. He would send in the first voter with a blank sheet of paper shaped like an absentee voter’s ballot. The voter was told to put the blank paper in the ballot box, then bring back the official but unmarked ballot. For this effort, the first and subsequent voters were paid the going rate, generally 10 to 20 dollars.
The next voter would go to the clerk’s office with an official ballot that was pre-checked by the person buying the votes. The voter took the marked ballot into the clerk’s office, and was given an unmarked ballot. The voter put his marked ballot in the ballot box, then brought his unmarked ballot back to receive his money. So with only one initial ballot, someone so disposed could run voters in and out of the clerk’s office day after day while absentee voting was taking place, pay them the going rate, and pile up votes for the favored candidates.
Another way to garner votes was to station a “helper” in the voting precinct to aid any voter who asked for assistance. Many less informed voters would say they needed aid and the “helper” was allowed in the voting booth with the voter. I remember back in one of my early races that a “helper” bragged to me after the election that I had received 217 votes out of 220 that were cast in a precinct where he was well known and who “helped” everyone that came in to vote. He had a big grin when he told me how he had assisted my campaign. My response: “What happened to the other three?”
The days of blatant and widespread voter fraud has been greatly curtailed, although not eliminated. The message to both democratic and republican party officials to keep a close eye on the election process. Former Governor Earl Long summed it up pretty well with two of his more memorable quotations: The first was “I can make them voting machines sing Home Sweet Home.” Since he controlled the election process back then, he probably could.
But his most endearing quote rang home to many Bayou State politicians. Uncle Earl’s missive was “When I die, I want to be buried in Louisiana, so that I can stay active in politics.”

Peace and Justice
Jim Brown
Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.





Friday, September 06, 2019

NO MORE RETAIL POLITICS IN LOUISIANA!


Thursday, September 4th, 2019
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

NO MORE RETAIL POLITICS IN LOUISIANA!

Remember the days when candidates for U.S Senator or Governor would speak to thousands of supporters at weekend rallies all over Louisiana? Huey Long was the master, mainly because he promised he’d give voters just about anything they wanted. A long line of colorful politicians followed in Huey’s wake. But those days seem to be long gone and forgotten.

Governor Jimmy Davis could draw a crowd on parish courthouse steps by blaring out a chorus of “You are My Sunshine.” Gov. John McKeithen was in high cotton while giving stump speeches on the back of a pickup truck. Edwin Edwards would mesmerize crowds in south Louisiana with his Cajun humor. Senators like Russell Long, Bennett Johnson and John Breaux, though not as flamboyant, still could both draw and relate to large crowds of voters all over the state.

Fairs and festivals used to be huge draws for statewide candidates. John Kennedy kicked off his run for the presidency before a crowd of over 200,000 at the Crowley Rice Festival back in 1959. It was an absolute must for aspiring governors, U.S. senators, and other statewide offices to attend the Frog Festival in Rayne, the Crawfish Festival in Beaux Bridge, the Natchitoches Christmas Festival, the Peach Festival in Ruston; the list goes on and on.

If you haven’t noticed, there’s a gubernatorial election going on in Louisiana that is only a little more than a month away. You sure would not be aware of this contest if you relied on candidates showing up to “pressing the flesh,” and networking with constituents at many of the large gatherings that occur every weekend this time of year. What happened to all the direct contact with voters?

To back up my point, I made a cross section of phone calls across the state. From Kentwood to Morgan City, Belle Chasse to Homer, and from Lutcher to Lake Providence, the message was almost always the same. The statewide candidates have been, almost without exception, no shows in these local communities. Retail politics have been put on the back burner. It’s all about television, often paid for by out of state special interest groups.

I published a book four years ago by political columnists Tyler Bridges and Jeremy Alford about Governor John Bel Edwards’ victory called “Long Shot.”  They both have seen a major change by candidates reaching out to voters. Bridges put it this way.  “Blame the change on the rise of television ads and, lately, the importance of social media as a tool to reach out to voters.”

The three major candidates for governor seem to feel that the return is not worth their political investment to attend these annual gatherings, particularly in smaller communities. Their view is that they can get to the public on TV, and not spend the time with voters at the local level. I would respectfully disagree.

You can get a lot of bang for your buck by getting out among the locals. And in this day of growing social media, your contacts actually grow a number of times more than the crowd in attendance. Everyone now carries their cell phone cameras for “selfies” with friends as well as celebrities. Attending a festival can produce photos galore on Facebook, Twitter, and other social Internet outlets, as well as good fodder for the candidates to circulate themselves.

Statewide candidates may think that dollar raising for TV spots makes good political sense. But it is a slap at their constituents, and unhealthy for a democracy. Louisiana deserves better. Maybe we do need a third choice. In Nevada, if voters don’t like their options on the ballot, they can vote for “none of the above.”  An idea worth considering in future Louisiana elections?

Peace and Justice
Jim Brown
Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.