Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s all-but announcement that he’s not running for president next year doesn’t just deprive Louisiana of a native son in the race. It pretty much takes the region out of play.
As of now, the field of major announced Democratic candidates is dominated by people from Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and California. Other possible entrants hail from places such as Ohio, Minnesota and Colorado.
The closest the South has to a candidate is Julian Castro, the former San Antonio mayor and Obama housing secretary, although politically Texas is less South than Southwest. A former congressman from the state, Beto O’Rourke, could also get in. So might former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, although his state no longer votes much like the rest of the South. And lately there’s been some buzz around former Georgia legislator and gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who delivered a widely-praised response to President (and New Yorker) Donald Trump’s State of the Union this week.
As of now, though, the South is bringing up the rear in terms of representation.
That’s not surprising, of course, given that the region’s politics and its current crop of elected officials skew heavily Republican, and nobody expects that to change in 2020. But it also means that Democratic primary season is likely to be dominated by people who have won in more progressive states.
Landrieu is considered pretty liberal for Louisiana, but he does have a record of winning statewide as lieutenant governor. Still, back when he was making his decision, he wondered aloud whether his approach — a form of pragmatism he called "radical centrism" — might be out of step with the party’s current confrontational mood.
Maybe he’s come up his answer.