JACKSON — Soon to be unemployed, Royann Lane, of Ethel, dispensed with the niceties when introducing gubernatorial candidate Tara Hollis to the Dem Dames of the Felicianas on Tuesday night.
“She is running against (Gov.) Bobby Jindal, who we cannot stand,” Lane told a roomful of about 30 Democratic women — as well as a few men — at the Jackson Civic Center.
Mildred Worrell, of Clinton, one of 13 founders of Dem Dames, said the group formed to encourage women to run for office and to encourage Democrats to vote.
No endorsements are given. The idea is to make politics fun.
“We are not a hard-edged organization,” Worrell said, standing behind a counter loaded with sweet tea and powder sugar-covered desserts.
Jindal apparently is so confident in his re-election chances he is donating money to a number of candidates for the state Legislature.
No well-financed candidates are running against him.
Still, audience members were not shy about telling Hollis what they do not like about the Jindal administration and demanding to know how she would be different.
Hollis, a Haynesville schoolteacher, is one of four Democrats running for governor.
She has built up some name recognition although she says she has nowhere near the $7.7 million the governor has to spend on the race.
She told the Dem Dames that she is committed to doing well in the Oct. 22 primary, which she characterized as a matchup between her and Jindal.
“I’m not focused on winning outright,” Hollis said. “I’m putting his butt in a runoff.”
Hollis said she decided to run because teachers, including her husband, were losing their jobs because of tight funding.
Dr. Francine Morrison, who works in mental health and substance abuse, said Jindal is decimating the mental health system.
Cradling a 2-week-old kitten to her chest, Morrison told Hollis about a would-be rapist who is in a halfway house instead of a more secure facility.
She said the halfway houses do a good job but are not meant to care for dangerous mentally ill criminals.
Once patients are released from mental hospitals, they cannot go back because the number of beds is being reduced, Morrison said.
Schoolteacher Debra Thomas, of Wilson, wanted to know Hollis’ solution for bringing more revenue to schools.
School systems are grappling with cutbacks in state funding, notably frozen basic state aid.
The state is suffering from a slumping economy.
Hollis said the state still is doing things such as funding a $50,000 fence for a private New Orleans subdivision through the state construction budget.
She said $50,000 might not sound like much money but could pay a teacher’s salary.
She said education can be properly funded, partly by not pushing students toward college when they are not suited for it or have no interest in a higher education.
She said companies are looking for welders and machinists and cannot find them in Louisiana.
“She would be a breath of fresh air,” said retired state worker Tanya Stroud, of Zachary.
Lane said Hollis has a lot of nerve to challenge a governor who seems assured he will be re-elected.
She said Democrats have a chance to be heard even if they do not have a chance of becoming the next governor.
“I think the state of Louisiana is too lazy to look out the window for something better,” Lane said.