In announcing that he won’t run for governor against John Bel Edwards, Louisiana’s junior U.S. senator, John Kennedy, said he thought he could do the most good by staying where he is.
Maybe he’s right. One thing is certain. There’s much to do for any member of Congress representing Louisiana right now. The state needs a comprehensive, long-term extension of the National Flood Insurance Program, a critical factor in retaining and building residential and commercial investment here. Fixing Louisiana’s eroding coastline will continue to need strong federal support, an area where members of our congressional delegation can make a big difference. Louisiana’s agricultural and petrochemical sectors are especially vulnerable to recent shifts in U.S. trade policy. Here, too, a senator can be useful player in advancing the state’s interests.
Successfully championing Louisiana on Capitol Hill requires influence, and that’s something of a fluctuating commodity within Louisiana’s delegation at the moment. U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, a Jefferson Parish Republican, is poised to retain his post as whip among his fellow party members, but when the House convenes next year, it will be under Democratic control.
Ladies and gentlemen, we finally have ourselves a governor’s race. Or more likely, we don’t, at least not much of one.
The Senate will remain in GOP hands, a plus for Kennedy and his fellow Republican senator from Louisiana, Bill Cassidy.
Kennedy’s announcement of his decision to stay out of the governor’s race came on Monday, the day of the week when most of us return to work, putting our shoulders to the wheel to get things done.
The timing invited a natural contrast with the prevailing political culture these days, which often seems more focused on style than results. Kennedy has suffered from that perception, dismissed by critics as a man too busy spouting cornpone pronouncements on national television to labor long in the vineyards of legislation.
His lengthy will-he-won’t-he guessing game concerning the governor’s race only served to underscore Kennedy’s reputation for theater.
Governance, of course, involves more than spectacle. Near the close of a year defined by drama in public life from the White House on down, we must wonder if voters are ready for something besides civic discourse that seems like yet another dreary episode of reality TV.
As another round of statewide elections looms, what if members of Louisiana’s largely Republican congressional delegation and the incumbent Democratic governor found more common ground to move the state forward?
That would be a show worth tuning in for.