Jim Brown: Can John Bel Edwards run for president?
The Louisiana governor is being touted as a Democratic Party contender on the national front. Just a little over a year in his present job, it may be a sign of the few future contenders the Democrats have available. Here’s what a writer for the The Huffington Post had to say last week:
“I would predict, that if he is interested, with a growing national appreciation that he’s the best Governor Louisiana has experienced in a generation, if his family allows, and if Trump remains Trump and has no Damascene moment during the early years of his Presidency, that the Democrats will win the White House in 2020 with Governor John Bel Edwards as their candidate.”
Many would consider an Edwards presidential candidacy pretty far-fetched, but he is one of a number of Louisianans who once had their eyes on the White House. How could we forget Bobby Jindal’s quixotic campaign effort? He was preceded by a presidential effort by former Gov. Buddy Roemer, whose campaign was doomed from the get go when he promised to limit contributions to $100. A good idea, but he had no money to deliver his message.
Roemer was the longest of long shots in 2012, but he also was back in 1987 when he pulled an upset victory to get elected as governor. He beat quite a pack of candidates back then, including incumbent Gov. Edwin Edwards, Congressman Billy Tauzin, almost future Speaker of the U.S. House Bob Livingston, and some other forgettable character named Brown.
Actually, no Louisianan has ever been elected president. Zachery Taylor might barely qualify, although he spent very little time down in the Deep South.
One resident of the Bayou State did make it to the nation’s highest court. Edward Douglass White, a former Louisiana Supreme Court justice, served on the U.S. Supreme Court for 27 years between 1894-1921. In 1910, at the age of 65, White was appointed chief justice of the Supreme Court by President William Howard Taft.
So who were the other candidates? Edwin Edwards gave a national race a good look back in 1978, when the President Jimmy Carter was floundering.
Edwards just didn’t like Carter and had read several books on how the former Georgia governor had come from obscurity to the presidency. Edwards toyed with the idea for six months, and then ended up supporting Republican Ronald Reagan.
John McKeithen sought the national stage, and thought he had a commitment to be the vice presidential candidate on the Hubert Humphrey ticket in 1968.
The Hilton Hotel on Michigan Avenue in Chicago was the convention headquarters, and I had trekked up to the Windy City as an observer. I happened to be on the hotel elevator when McKeithen and Sen. Russell Long got on.
Long later told me they were on their way up to the penthouse meet with Humphrey and solidify McKeithen’s position as the vice presidential nominee.
Humphrey changed his mind from his earlier commitment, turned McKeithen down, and the Louisianan governor immediately left the convention to return home in a huff.
Don’t forget Huey Long, who had all but announced a challenge to sitting President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Though a backer of Roosevelt in the 1932 presidential election, Long split with the president in June 1933, and planned to mount his own presidential bid for 1936 in alliance with radio’s influential Catholic priest Charles Coughlin.
Long was assassinated in 1935, and rumors abounded that his presidential ambitions played a role in why he was shot to death.
So we have Long, McKeithen, Edwards, Roemer, Jindal and maybe a second Edwards. All served in congress except McKeithen and John Bel Edwards.
I wonder how the results would come in if Louisiana would pick one of the living contenders in a presidential primary?
Along with Roemer, Jindal and the two Edwards, let’s thrown in country singer Tim McGraw, a Louisiana native who has expressed great interest in politics. And maybe Saints Quarterback Drew Brees along with Payton Manning, and General Russell Honore’ to round out the slate. Louisiana voters would love it. Mardi Gras just ended, so we need something way down here in the Deep South to keep us occupied.
Peace and Justice
Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.