My gut tells me that using his veto power to go after projects in the districts of lawmakers who fought his agenda during this year's legislative sessions would go against Gov. John Bel Edwards' instincts.
Gov. John Bel Edwards is facing the first of several key decisions centered on a single ques…
He's clearly someone who prefers comity to conflict, and had hoped that spirit would allow legislators from both parties to get together and work through the state's tough structural budget challenges. Instead, they left long-term restructuring on the table and had to go into extra innings just to pass an annual budget.
A more cooperative approach plays to Edwards' politics too. He's a Democrat leading a Republican-leaning state, so constant partisan fighting puts him on the defensive. He's in much stronger shape if he owns the center, as overreach by some House conservatives this year enabled him to do.
It's been clear for weeks now that the state House leadership never had a plan to exercise i…
Now that Edwards is facing the choice of whether to use his veto power strategically, there's a pretty good argument for putting all that aside and playing a little hardball, even if it's only a little, as just about every governor before him has done. This is a guy who could certainly use more leverage the next time the Legislature comes to town.
Edwards's initial approach to district-specific projects was to continue to support those put in the pipeline under former Gov. Bobby Jindal.
But with money scarce — in part due to his adversaries' hard-line approach — he's faced criticism from allies who think he should show more gratitude for their troubles, as well as from opponents who fought his attempts to find new revenue but still feel free to complain when projects get shorted.
Governing effectively always means using both carrots and sticks, and appealing to politicians' better natures as well as their selfish impulses.
By at least trying to work with those Republicans willing to work with him, Edwards emerged from the legislative season looking like the grown-up in the room. And sometimes part of being a grown-up is imposing a little discipline.