In a development that could have heavy implications for current and former Members of the Louisiana Congressional delegation, Pelican State Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D), whose political standing has been crippled since Hurricane Katrina devastated the state in August 2005, announced Tuesday evening that she would not seek re-election this year.
“Today, I am announcing that, after much thought and prayer, I have decided not to seek re-election as your governor,” Blanco said in a televised address from the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge.
Blanco’s decision paves the way for former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) to run for governor if he wants to. Breaux has been actively considering jumping into the race, but has said he would not run if Blanco decided to seek a term.
Blanco’s announcement could also complicate Rep. Bobby Jindal’s (R-La.) quest to become governor this year. Jindal lost to Blanco by just 4 points in 2003, and recent polls have shown him with a substantial lead over the embattled Democrat.
But Breaux, who left the Senate in 2004, remains popular in his home state, and would be seen as the early frontrunner if he decided to run.
Republicans already have been trying to discredit Breaux, noting that after retiring from the Senate he officially became a Maryland resident as he built his lobbying business. State and national GOP operatives have argued that Breaux is ineligible to run for governor — a matter that is likely to be settled in the courts.
Meanwhile, Tuesday’s developments could impact the 2008 Senate race in Louisiana. Two-term Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is one of Senate Republicans’ top targets, but Republicans have been hard-pressed to recruit a top-tier challenger so far. They may now try to urge Jindal into the Senate race with the argument that he has a better chance against Landrieu than he would against Breaux. On the other hand, a Breaux victory in November could boost Landrieu’s standing heading into 2008.
— Josh Kurtz