Special elections in the middle of football season often loom very quietly, draw low turnout and make plenty of noise in the aftermath.
Most folks in Denham Springs are well aware of an election to fill the seat Chris Davis vacated on the City Council. It’s drawing some attention in the onset, and the crowded ballot inevitably will spur a November runoff.
The race for state treasurer is a different story. It’s an office that gets little attention from the general public citizens, but it’s an extremely powerful position in state government.
Thus far, we’ve seen signs and little else. We’ll likely see ad spots on TV, radio, Internet and social media.
As for now, it’s quiet – almost deftly so.
Bear in mind that many times in history, we’ve seen a quiet uprising that ultimately turned the course of history.
In many cases, it involved the relatively unknown candidates who quietly went under the radar and pulled off huge surprises at the end. The presidential elections of Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in 1993 tell that story, largely because their name recognition was not that strong prior to their campaigns.
Much more recently, and closer to home, many polls did not foresee Democrat John Bel Edwards pulling off a victory for governor amid a crowded race of Republicans, including the well-known U.S. Sen. David Vitter.
Like him or dislike him, Edwards already has had a huge impact on the direction of the state.
The winner in the election for state treasurer also could ignite sparks over the next couple of years. Unlike former officeholder John Neely Kennedy, none of the candidates in this race hold very much in terms of name recognition.
We have some prominent members of the Louisiana Legislature in the mix, but nobody with “household name” status.
What they share in common is they are Republican, and they all embrace the philosophy that they want to stop or curtail the programs of Gov. Edwards.
The top three candidates in the race are Republican, and it’s very likely the runoff – if it occurs – will come down to two GOP hopefuls.
Their campaign messages on their websites say it all: They’re fiscal conservatives and seem to embrace much of what former Gov. Bobby Jindal pushed while in office.
They want fiscal conservatism, much smaller government and a cut on spending rather than tax cuts.
It’s also likely they will bring to office a platform that falls in place very much with their party’s philosophy, which in itself would mark a change from Kennedy’s approach.
Kennedy gained much of his star power not by how he stood up against Edwards, but the way he spoke out against Jindal.
Granted, much of the Republican legislative body did not mince words when it came to Jindal, particularly his last two or three years in office. His fiscal policies – coupled with the amount of time he spent outside Louisiana – turned off even his most ardent supporters.
Even if the “I Love Bobby” T-shirts did not sell well his second term in office, it was a risky venture for Kennedy to speak out against Jindal with the knowledge that he could potentially alienate his party in the process.
We’re not likely to see the same trait in the next treasurer. Republicans Neil Riser of Columbia and John Schroder of Covington both come from hardcore conservative bases, areas that have not been enamored by the recommendations Edwards has utilized to remedy the state’s fiscal woes.
Bear in mind the next treasurer will take office in a particularly auspicious time, when the governor and state legislators will work to figure how to avoid the “fiscal cliff” looming for the state when the expiration of the 1-cent sales tax triggers a budget gap of more than $1 billion.
The treasurer figures to become either a strong ally of Gov. Edwards or a fierce opponent. It also will take a lesser known state official and put them in the center of the spotlight – and probably for an extended stay.
The next state treasurer also may see the post as the springboard for the 20 19 gubernatorial election.
It doesn’t take long to make a big name on the political scene. The winner in the treasurer’s race can make a big splash early, draw the support and accolades of the right supporters and – perhaps most importantly – stay fresh in the public’s minds during the election run.
All this comes in an election which may not draw much attention from the general public, largely because of the lack of widespread name recognition.
Much like the unknown performer who steals the show in a movie, the winner of this race has a chance to become the breakout star on the statewide political scene – or further.