During the past few weeks, as Gov. John Bel Edwards has been on the campaign trail, the man running for re-election this fall has pulled no punches and is keeping his face very visible, all the while touting plenty of successes.
The GOP has its responses, as well, but the point here is that one of his maneuvers shows a problem with leadership in Louisiana. Is it the teacher raises? No, not at all – the move has long since been needed to keep talent in Louisiana, so while the play to hold off on that push until a campaign year may infuriate some, it was a good play by the governor.
What wasn’t a good play, however, was asking LSU football coach Ed Orgeron to participate in several of his campaign events. Sure, for many who would vote for Edwards’ re-election it looks good to have the bombastic head man say good things about him and participate in his events.
For others, however, the look is different.
Sen. John Kennedy, called the move a mix up of politics and football. The senator needs to be against such things, as he’s sponsoring a bill to make sure large public companies – especially banks – do not run on partisan politics.
While a coach supporting his governor may not be on the same level as a bank not serving Republicans, it appeared Kennedy was after a political response – and he got it. A statement by one of the governor’s spokesmen gave the GOP all it needed. While it started out well-to-do, it ended with suggesting Kennedy “do his job.”
That’s … not a good look, considering Kennedy has become as good as gold on the Hill. The senator has worked with Sen. Bill Cassidy and Rep. Garret Graves to bring billions back home, and the trio has been hailed as one of the most intelligent representative groups in D.C. Kennedy is also one of the top co-sponsor targets for bipartisan, common-sense legislation in the Senate.
So, having a partisan back-and-forth looks like more of the same from a leadership perspective in Louisiana, especially when one makes an uninformed comment. But what does this play really represent? Well, much of the same Louisiana “fun” has always existed.
Orgeron works for Athletic Director Joe Alleva, who reports to University President F. King Alexander. Every year, Alexander and the board raise tuition prices, then promptly go to the Legislature – and the governor – to approve those raises, as well as make sure that TOPS remains, of course, fully funded.
This move was akin to renting out a celebrity for your campaign – imagine when Katy Perry took the stage for Hillary Clinton’s rally, except this time it was a Red Bull-guzzling, loveable Cajun who’s done way more than expected with LSU football.
Except this time, the celebrity has a boss to whom they cannot say “no.”
Meanwhile, as tuitions rise, buildings that should have been torn down years ago remain on campus, patchworked together with duct tape and Gorilla Glue.
The library that’s “full of character” is the same library that’s been there for 50 years.
The rate of on-campus progress is not keeping up with the level of funding, not to mention the play last year by Alexander to try and lower ACT entry requirements so LSU can – you guessed it – raise revenue and get more TOPS money.
Time will tell if leadership will get any better in Louisiana, but it appears that – before the session even started – Edwards’ campaign took one step forward with teacher pay raises, and one step back.