Maginnis: Governor’s race to be crowded field

MORGAN CITY, La. — The race to become the state’s next governor is getting crowded with Republicans but few Democratic challengers, columnist John Maginnis said Monday.

Maginnis was the guest speaker at the St. Mary Industrial Group’s monthly luncheon meeting at the Petroleum Club of Morgan City.

Maginnis is an independent journalist who writes a weekly syndicated column on Louisiana politics that appears in 16 daily and weekly newspapers across the state including The Daily Review. Maginnis has covered Louisiana politics since 1972.

The big question in the 2015 governor’s race is whether David Vitter will run, Maginnis said. “Once he passed the test and got re-elected in 2010 and overcame his little sex scandal ... I think that shows you it takes more than one sex scandal to take down a Louisiana politician,” Maginnis said.

Vitter may feel the best end to his Louisiana political career is a stint as governor, Maginnis said.

If Vitter runs, he probably would be the frontrunner, Maginnis said. Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and state treasurer John Kennedy are other potential Republican candidates. The Democrats will have at least one strong candidate, state Rep. John Bel Edwards. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu could get in the race too. State Sen. Gerald Long, a distant cousin of Huey Long and Earl Long, may also run as a Republican, he said.

“What’s missing in all this is the Cajun candidate. We have not had a Cajun candidate since Blanco left office,” Maginnis said. The one Cajun candidate who could run is state Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle. “The trouble with Scott is he has a hard time making up his mind. If he were to get in the race, he would be a very, very formidable candidate,” Maginnis said.

The race for U.S. Senate in 2014 is also heating up with Mary Landrieu facing some stiff competition from several possible candidates, Maginnis said.

Bill Cassidy will challenge Landrieu, but will also have a lot of company, Maginnis said. Rob Maness is a tea party candidate who will be running and could siphon some votes away from Cassidy, Maginnis said.

In 1981, the state senate had 37 white Democrats and two black Democrats. Today, there are five white Democrats and eight black Democrats. Two of the white Democrats represent majority black districts, Maginnis said.

Though the Democrats are doing all right on the national level, Maginnis said it will be years before Democrats are competitive again in Louisiana.

Landrieu will have a tougher time in the mid-term elections because the black turnout will not be as great because President Obama is not on the ballot, Maginnis said. Also, in 2012, no Democrats ran for Congress in the 4th, 5th, or 6th districts.

If that happens in 2014, that will be an added problem for Landrieu, Maginnis said.

Maginnis predicted that the Senate race will probably be the most watched race in the country next year because the Republicans think there is a chance to gain control of the Senate.

Maginnis said he would not count Landrieu out though.

There are more Democrats registered to vote in Louisiana than Republicans though they do not always vote that way, he said. “A lot of times they look at it and say it’s not bad to have one of each party in there, especially when you never know who’s going to be in the White House,” he said.

Maginnis predicted Landrieu will have another close election.

Maginnis said he thinks the state has a bright long-term future.

Water is going to be a precious resource in the future for places like Phoenix, Dallas, and Las Vegas, he said. Oil and gas, particularly gas, is good resource for the state. The culture and antiquity are also valuable resources, he said.

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