Politics is an unpredictable business, and even the seemingly safest bets can look foolhardy in retrospect.
Case in point: As 2014 dawned, I confidently predicted that Louisiana’s U.S. Senate contest would be a nail-biter. Not exactly. Mary “Landslide” Landrieu finally got that elusive rout, but she found herself on the wrong end of it.
Nevertheless, it’s that time of year again. So here’s how I see 2015 shaping up.
Sometime in the next few months, Gov. Bobby Jindal will finally, officially, admit that he’s running for president. No more insisting that he has the job he wants, an implausible line he dropped some time back. No more claiming that he’s thinking about it, praying on it, which is his current stance.
If Jindal’s not actively planning a campaign, then what’s with all the travel to Iowa and New Hampshire, the speechifying and editorializing on issues that have little to do with Louisiana, the knee-jerk attacks on President Barack Obama, the new Washington-based policy shop, the naked attempts to cozy up to national movement conservatives, the state policy initiatives that are clearly designed to build a larger profile rather than address local needs?
The man’s either running for president or wasting a lot of people’s precious time.
Here’s another easy one: Louisiana Republicans will continue to fight over Common Core. U.S. Sen. and gubernatorial candidate David Vitter’s abrupt disavowal of the controversial education standards he once enthusiastically backed, which mimicked Jindal’s own, equally politically driven reversal, positions the issue at the center of the upcoming governor’s race. One of Vitter’s GOP opponents, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, remains on board with the initiative, a top priority for state education officials and business leaders. Another, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, has yet to tip his hand.
I predict the St. George breakaway attempt will keep losing momentum as the fight to get on the ballot drags on and that state tax reform will gain momentum as legislators and potential governors look for ways to shore up the bleeding budget. Don’t expect lawmakers to take any really tough votes during the spring session, though. After all, they too face the voters next fall.
At the rate things are going, this could well be the year that same-sex marriage becomes legal in Louisiana, despite a district-level court ruling to the contrary. And here’s a prediction: The world won’t end. In fact, the change will likely spur both business recruitment and tourism — particularly in New Orleans, which is a great spot for destination weddings.
Relations with Cuba will continue to open up, despite hand-wringing from Jindal and others. This too is good news for Louisiana, which is well-positioned to take advantage of enhanced trade and travel opportunities.
The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East’s lawsuit against oil and gas companies will proceed, regardless of efforts by state officials to derail it. While success or settlement would certainly be a boon for the plaintiff’s lawyers, the real beneficiaries would be the citizens whose lives and property depend on fixing damage the industry has caused to the coast.
LSU will host a mass prayer rally sponsored by the American Family Association, as it should, because universities are supposed to support free speech — even intolerant, ugly speech such as the group’s suggestion that Hurricane Katrina was linked to abortion and same-sex marriage. The protests will go on as well, as they should, because it’s important to counter offensive ideas. Jindal, the rally’s star speaker, will continue to insist that the event’s purpose is religious, not political. Nobody will believe him.
We probably won’t hear much more out of one losing political candidate in 2015. Has anyone ever risen so high and fallen so low as quickly as “Kissing Congressman” Vance McAllister?
But expect soon-to-be former Sen. Landrieu to remain in the public eye in some role, probably working on issues such as adoption or coastal restoration.
And as for 87-year-old ex-Gov. and ex-convict Edwin Edwards, who had the time of his life running for Congress but said he’d likely never again be a candidate? I predict he’ll find a way to get us to pay attention to him in the new year, too.
It’s just what he does.