Blanco's luck gets even worse
by Sam Hanna, Jr. - posted Tuesday, March 6th, 2007 @ 6:18 am
Gov. Kathleen Blanco can't seem to catch a break these days.
Is it ineffective leadership?
Is it just bad luck?
Or is it a message from the political gods, telling Blanco to abandon her re-election plans because the chances of her being awarded a second term by the voters this fall have evolved from slim to literally nonexistent?
Let's take a look at the evidence and decide which description best fits Blanco.
Last fall, the governor was banking on a vast improvement in the Road Home program's success rate to pave the way for the reconstruction of areas devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Until that time, the program, or the Road Home debacle, was becoming increasingly embarrassing for Blanco in light of the program's pitifully slow response in helping people attempt to rebuild their lives following the worst natural disaster in our state's history.
That was last fall.
Not much has changed at Road Home today, except for some stepped up finger pointing among officials, including Blanco, who were supposed to grab the bull by the horns, so to speak, and straighten out a well-intentioned effort that has become a running joke on the streets of New Orleans and in the halls of Congress.
Instead of giving Blanco a well-publicized success story to point to when she hits the re-election circuit in earnest, the Road Home program has become an albatross around the governor's neck, and no one is volunteering to loosen the noose. It's that bad.
If Road Home wasn't enough of a problem for Blanco, give Miss. Gov. Haley Barbour and Gov. Bob Riley in Alabama credit for making Blanco's life worse.
Barbour, a first-term Republican, recently scored a big one in the Magnolia State on the economic development front. He convinced the automaker Toyota to build a billion-dollar plant at Tupelo, eventually employing some 2,000 people. That's the same expansion project at Toyota the Blanco administration tried in vain to lure to Franklin Farms in Richland Parish, home to Louisiana's new, super-duper, economic development site.
Louisiana was never in the picture in the eyes of Toyota.
While Barbour was making off like a bandit with the Japanese, Riley was in Germany, cutting a deal with Thyssen Krupp to build a new steel mill in the Mobile area.
That's the same steel mill Blanco and company have been courting for months to locate in St. James Parish, creating some 3,000 much-needed jobs along the way.
Not leaving anything to chance, Alabama upped the ante recently in trying to convince the Germans to locate the new steel mill along the Redneck Riviera. Yep, the state that can now lay claim to Nick Saban is now offering the Germans some $400 million in economic incentives to locate there. That's $100 million more than Louisiana coughed up.
Sounds like more fuel for the fire when the Bayou Bengals and the Crimson Tide meet Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa. Not that the fire needed any more fuel added to it.
Though it's not a done deal that Thyssen Krupp is headed to Alabama, it's not far from it.
You can thank six U.S. senators for that, including a Democrat like Blanco.
In piecing together his best effort to convince the Germans that all of that whipping of black people in the streets from Selma to Montgomery was just a minor slip-up in the state's storied history, Riley garnered an endorsement for Alabama's bid to land Thyssen Krupp from the U.S. senators of Alabama, Mississippi and Florida, including Bill Nelson, the popular Democrat from the Sunshine State.
So much for party loyalty.
While Blanco has been taking a whipping in the court of public opinion and blaming anyone and everyone for the failures in her administration, Congressman Bobby Jindal, the Republican front-runner in the governor's race, has been raking in campaign donations by the boat load. He's gearing up for the final push in the gubernatorial race.
By all accounts, including results from the most recent polls on the governor's race, Jindal's support continues to grow unabated. He's more popular than U.S. Sen. David Vitter as well.
Meanwhile, it sounds like the political gods are telling us something.
Wonder if Blanco is listening?
Sam Hanna, Jr. is publisher of The Ouachita Citizen, and he serves in an editorial/management capacity with The Concordia Sentinel and The Franklin Sun, three newspapers owned and operated by the Hanna family. Hanna can be reached by calling (318) 805-8158 or by emailing him at email@example.com.