Last week, in an Orlando rally that basically replicated all other rallies he’s held, President Donald Trump kicked off his reelection bid.
This week, a whopping 20 Democrats hoping to unseat him will gather in Miami for a two-parter of a debate, with 10 candidates appearing Wednesday and another 10 Thursday. The two groupings were determined randomly in an attempt to avoid any perception that one group is at the kids’ table — a designation that haunted Republican former Gov. Bobby Jindal four years ago.
So in case anyone was still asking whether Florida is expected to play a major role in next year’s presidential election, there’s your answer.
The Sunshine State, of course, is a perennial A-lister in presidential contests, due both to its size and to its closely divided electorate.
Louisiana is more of a kids’ table state, part of the process but not deemed worthy of much consideration. The state’s primaries, usually on a Saturday in early March, tend to get overshadowed by contests in bigger states with more delegates and by the sheer number of contests on Super Tuesday. Come the fall, Louisiana will likely remain in the reliably Republican column, despite one recent poll suggesting Trump may have lost some support here.
It may be wishful thinking for those of us who think every vote and voter should count equally, but there’s at least a possibility that things might be different in 2020.
Louisiana lawmakers recently pushed Primary Day back from March 7, four days after Super Tuesday, to April 4.
Louisiana generally doesn’t get to play much of a role in presidential elections.
The reasons are technical: The state had to change the initial date because that would place runoffs for other contests — there are no runoffs in presidential primaries — too close to Easter. And moving the election back a week would have scheduled the primaries in February, a violation of national party rules that give Iowa, New Hampshire, South Caroline and Nevada that month to themselves.
But the shift could change the political impact of the primaries — not for Republicans, because Trump is the presumed nominee, but for Democrats. There’s always the chance that voters in other states will have effectively settled the nomination by April. But given how many candidates are competing, it’s also possible that the race will still be on by then, and that every state that votes, no matter how few delegates it offers (and the shift to April actually gives Louisiana a handful more) will become important. Think back to the endless nominating contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008, and you’ll get an idea of how this could play out.
Meanwhile, a few major locals are already choosing up sides.
A quirk in Louisiana’s election laws has caused political leaders to change the date of the state’s presidential primary election in 2020 to A…
Former Vice President Joe Biden named U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, of New Orleans, as his first national co-chair. In addition to his past position as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and current post in the House Democratic leadership hierarchy, Richmond has already been called upon to use a valuable skill: vouching for a friend’s character.
He did it back in 2014, when Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise came under fire following revelations that, as a state legislator, he’d spoken to a group affiliated with former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Richmond said that “I don't think Steve Scalise has a racist bone in his body." And just recently, after Biden drew criticism for highlighting his work with segregationist politicians on other issues during his long U.S. Senate tenure, Richmond spoke out again.
“Maybe there’s a better way to say it, but we have to work with people, and that’s a fact,” Richmond said, according to The Washington Post. He also compared Biden’s record with his own of collaborating with Trump on issues such as criminal justice reform, even though “I question (the president’s) racial sensitivity, a whole bunch of things about his character.”
Color me skeptical that President Donald Trump is in any danger of losing in Louisiana next year, despite a new poll suggesting it may be so.
At least one other Democratic presidential candidate has recruited a couple of high-profile Louisiana officeholders. U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris has named New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno and Baton Rouge state Rep. Ted James as her Louisiana co-chairs. Maybe more will get involved, or perhaps most will wait until the field thins out. Besides, the state has a governor, a legislature and a lot of local officials to elect before then.
Still, even a year out — and even though Louisiana will still never rival states such as Florida for attention — it’s going to be hard to compete with the big show.