What with the Congressional censure that passed Tuesday and an impeachment resolution that failed Wednesday, voters overlooked how effectively President Donald Trump shifted the politics of his 2020 reelection campaign and unintentionally, the discourse of Louisiana’s gubernatorial and legislative campaigns this year.

Former Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod told CNN that by telling four freshman congresswomen of color “to go back” to where they came from, Trump is trying to sway suburban voters to link socialism with the Democratic Party. (Only one of the four was born elsewhere and she became an American citizen after passing a test. But all four espouse very liberal policies.)

"He wants to elevate these four young members of Congress to make them the emblem of the Democratic Party, and he wants to be so outrageous about it that he forces all Democrats to embrace them, to support the argument that they are the iconic figures in the party and in the bargain, he riles up his base with nativist language," Axelrod said.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat who is running for president, tweeted that Trump’s gambit also attacked women candidates across the nation, the majority of whom are Democrats. “He should be afraid. We are his worst nightmare. And we will beat him."

About 50 women — a historic number and mostly Democrats — have announced they’ll run for the 144 seats in the Louisiana House and Senate.

Hopefully, the president’s narrative won’t seep into this state’s elections, says Melanie Oubre, who as head of Emerge Louisiana trained a number of women how to run a blue Democratic campaign in an overwhelmingly red Republican state.

Only about 10 percent of Louisiana voters know the name of their state representative and state senator, she said. But the women who have announced have deep roots in charities and public service in the neighborhoods they want to represent in the Legislature. Oubre argues that voters will back the people they know and trust regardless of whether a “D” or a “R” follows their name.

That national issues won’t come to Louisiana for the Oct. 12 election may be wishful thinking.

All three announced candidates for governor have weighed in on Trump’s tweets.

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards noted that the "go back to your country" phrase was often targeted at Civil Rights-era blacks who "sat at lunch counters that they weren't supposed to sit at, or wanted to ride the bus wherever they wanted to sit, or wanted to register to vote."

Edwards voiced concern that the tone of the rhetoric makes it hard for elected officials to find a path to govern.

"I've been saying for years the political discourse in this country has turned toxic," Edwards said Wednesday. "I believe the president's remarks were out of bounds and we ought to all aspire to do better."

His two GOP opponents defended Trump’s remarks saying the problem really lies with Democrats who criticize the country.

U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, a physician from Alto, tweeted that the four congresswomen were simply called out by the president for their having “said anti-American and anti-Semitic things. I’ll pay for their tickets out of this country if they just tell me where they’d rather be.”

Eddie Rispone, a Baton Rouge millionaire, tweeted that Edwards “showed his true colors” by “siding with his America-bashing liberal allies who want open borders, sanctuary cities and socialism.”

On the campaign trail, both Republican candidates claim Louisiana’s economy would do better if voters jettisoned Edwards. But aside from lowering taxes and restricting lawyers who represent injured people, they have promoted few specifics.

Not so with immigration. They back building a wall along the Mexican border and for punishing cities that provide sanctuary by not ejecting immigrants here illegally when local police come across them.

And that’s the rub for Louisiana.

Illegal immigration doesn’t really impact this state.

Roughly 4 percent of Louisiana residents were immigrants in 2016, according to the American Immigration Council. That’s compared 14.4 percent of the U.S. population. Only 1.5 percent of Louisiana immigrants were undocumented in 2014.

True, illegal immigration nationally is a major concern for the Louisiana Republican voters Rispone and Abraham need to motivate this fall.

But shouldn’t the gubernatorial campaign focus more on one of the nation’s highest poverty rates, with one in five Louisiana residents are officially impoverished? Or the state’s low-income levels, with more than half annually making less than workers in other states? Or the unwillingness of state government to adequately fund higher education?

Or perhaps the candidates should address ways to combat violent crime.

Baton Rouge civil rights advocate Sadie Roberts-Joseph was not murdered last week by an immigrant, whether here illegally or otherwise.


Email Mark Ballard at mballard@theadvocate.com.