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Stephanie Grace: To describe David Vitter's plight, this Allen Toussaint lyric is perfect

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- Sen. David Vitter concedes to John Bel Edwards in the runoff for governor Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, during his election-night party at the Airport Hilton in Kenner.

If the past couple of weeks around south Louisiana had a soundtrack, it would be the music of Allen Toussaint, the beloved New Orleans songsmith who died earlier this month, and whose vast catalogue has saturated the airwaves ever since. Maybe it’s fitting then, that one of Toussaint’s most pointed songs could… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Bobby Jindal 2015, say hello to the popular, genuine, inclusive Bobby Jindal 2003

Advocate staff file photo by Mark Saltz -- Bobby Jindal explains why he decided to run for governor in August of 2003.

You know all those people who met Gov. Bobby Jindal early in his career and figured he could be president one day? I have to confess. I used to be one of them. Long before the governor’s all-wrong campaign for the Republican nomination, which he ended Tuesday after five futile months on the trail, Jindal… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: It's been a topsy-turvy campaign, and there may be more plot twists after election

Up is down. Day is night. A Democrat is favored to win Louisiana’s highest office. And once-dominant U.S. Sen. David Vitter actually wants to debate more, while the onetime underdog in this volatile gubernatorial race, state Rep. John Bel Edwards, would prefer not to risk making a damaging mistake or allowing Vitter to change the… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: John Bel Edwards offers blank slate to many voters in run for governor

State Rep. John Bel Edwards’ impossible journey from sacrificial lamb to frontrunner has caused lots of folks to reassess their assumptions about this year’s gubernatorial race, myself included. The other day, someone asked me whether I thought New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu was in that number, and whether he’s kicking himself for staying out now that it’s clear… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: David Vitter the 'victim' 'perhaps the most improbable turn' in action-packed political season

Meet David Vitter: lawyer, Rhodes scholar, U.S. senator, gubernatorial candidate, legendary strategist and unapologetic political bomb thrower. Oh yeah, and victim. That’s right. Victim. Or so Vitter’s claiming to be, in perhaps the most improbable turn in a political season that’s brimming with them. In a pair of explosive joint appearances this week… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: As race narrows, 'nice guy' John Bel Edwards proves he can hold up his end of fight vs. David Vitter

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- In the first head to head meeting since the primary election, gubernatorial candidates David Vitter, left, and John Bel Edwards, right, meet in a forum hosted by the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

Last spring, long before the candidates for governor started going after one another, before attack ads flooded the airwaves and before a couple of super PACs, a well-known blog and, finally, U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s trailing Republican opponents began talking about his “serious sin,” I asked Vitter whether he thought his 2007 prostitution scandal was fair… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: What a John Bel Edwards term might look like

Democratic candidate for governor John Bel Edwards, left, speaks after Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, right, announced his endorsement of Edwards in the Louisiana governor's race,Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015, in Baton Rouge, La. Dardenne, who ran fourth in the primary, chose Edwards over Republican contender David Vitter in the runoff election. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte) ORG XMIT: LAMD101

For the longest time, the first, last and only question about Democratic prospects in this year’s gubernatorial races was this: Can a Democrat win? But now that state Rep. John Bel Edwards has emerged as an improbably viable contender against U.S. Sen. David Vitter in the Nov. 21 runoff, political insiders are starting to ponder a… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Neither 'ridiculous' nor 'obligatory' Jay Dardenne-John Bel Edwards a 'stand up and notice' endorsement

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Gubernatorial candidate John Bel Edwards, center, answers media questions tt LSU's Free Speech Alley after Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne endorsed Edwards for the governor's race.

In politics, not all endorsements are created equal. Many are perfunctory, simple reminders of overlapping agendas between the politician on the ballot and the person or group providing the plug. Endorsements in this category rarely resonate because they are entirely expected. Put business group endorsements for Republicans and labor for Democrats in… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Attacks jeopardize bipartisan prison reform

At the risk of stating the obvious, we live in politically polarized times. Issues that once united the parties and the country have turned fiercely partisan, and topics that once were merely contentious are now frequently framed as showdowns between good and evil. That makes the slow but steady progress on one huge problem facing… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Louisiana governor’s runoff a juicy drama that could hinge on personality vs. party label

John Bel Edwards, left, and David Vitter

In one sense, not much changed between the start of this year’s governor’s race and Saturday’s primary. We’re down to a two-party runoff, as basic math had long suggested. State Rep. John Bel Edwards had the Democratic field to himself, and his 40 percent showing, while impressive and high enough… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: There are too many challenges for Louisiana’s next governor to get distracted by the past

From left, Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, and State Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-72nd Dist. listen to a moderator's questions during a Louisiana Governor's Debate presented by NBC33, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, at The Dunham School in Baton Rouge, La. (Hilary Scheinuk/The Baton Rouge Advocate via AP) MAGS OUT; INTERNET OUT; NO SALES; TV OUT; NO FORNS; LOUISIANA BUSINESS INC. OUT (INCLUDING GREATER BATON ROUGE BUSINESS REPORT, 225, 10/12, INREGISTER, LBI CUSTOM); MANDATORY CREDIT

Barack Obama. Mitch Landrieu. Bobby Jindal. What do these three politicians have in common, other than a healthier-than-average level of personal ambition? That’s easy. None of their names appeared on Saturday’s primary ballot for governor, and none will be candidates in next month’s runoff. Voters might have missed that nuance, based on how… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Campaign season's ads push mostly negative vibe, leverage the anti-Obama catch-phrase

Turnout predictions for Saturday’s gubernatorial primary are low, and for those who’ve been following along on television, it’s not hard to guess why there’s not much enthusiasm. The ads have been relentless, and relentlessly negative, to the point where the whole campaign seems to have blurred into one prolonged sneer. There were a few bright… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: U.S. Sen. David Vitter has learned from Gov. Bobby Jindal that there's a strategy to dodging debates

Photo provided by Louisiana Tech University photo sevices -- David Vitter address the audience at ithe Louisiana Gubernatorial debate at Louisiana Tech on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015.

There’s a delicious irony to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s increasingly desperate pleas to be included in the next Republican presidential debate, set for next Wednesday on CNBC. Back when he was trying to get elected governor, Jindal made a point of debating his frustrated opponents as little as possible. There’s a… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Special interests pushing candidates already via donations, unlimited contributions to Super PACs

This much we know about what will happen once legislators take office come January: They should pack their bags for Baton Rouge. Each of the four major candidates for governor promises to call all those new and returning lawmakers into a special session to tackle Louisiana’s structural budget crisis. And one main focus of the debate is… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Despite small stakes, it wouldn't hurt to pay attention to Louisiana lieutenant governor race

If running for governor in Louisiana is tough, competing for the lieutenant governor’s post is a truly thankless job. While the title is impressive, the state’s No. 2 official plays no formal part in developing or implementing major policies. Louisiana’s Governor’s Office is famously powerful, but the lieutenant governor, whose office oversees culture, recreation and tourism,… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Governor candidates in 'remarkable' agreement on expanding Medicaid, as they should be

Gubernatorial candidates, state Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Baton Rouge, left, and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., take their places before a debate, sponsored by WDSU television, at their studio in New Orleans, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

If you happen to catch the Republican Governors Association’s new ad attacking Democrat John Bel Edwards for wanting to “expand ‘Obamacare’ in Louisiana,” take the accusation with a big grain of salt. Not because he wouldn’t do it if elected. As head of the state House’s Democratic caucus, Edwards… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise may not get to be House Majority Leader, but he gets something more important - longevity

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La.,

If U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise is disappointed that he won’t be climbing yet another step up the GOP’s Congressional hierarchy any time soon, at least there’s a silver lining. Staying put as House Majority Whip — and not having to place his future in the hands of a wildly unpredictable, arguably suicidal, caucus — sounds like… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Bobby Jindal takes it too far with harsh 'sermon' over Umpqua shootings

Republican presidential candidate, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the Defending the American Dream summit hosted by Americans for Prosperity at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

Are there some lines that a presidential candidate, even one unlucky enough to run in an era when outrageousness reaps only reward, simply can’t cross? Let’s hope so. And let’s hope that Gov. Bobby Jindal, a candidate so blinded by his quest for attention, has finally stumbled across it. Jindal, who long ago abandoned… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: So far U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s gubernatorial campaign has been sadly lacking in substance

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Sen. David Vitter, R-La., talks before the gubernatorial candidates debate at WDSU in New Orleans, La. Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015.

The frenetic end to this year’s governor’s race has gotten me pining, strangely enough, for its beginning. Months before the airwaves filled to the brim with nasty attack ads, the four major candidates spoke to an industry gathering of engineers and contractors about how Louisiana government works and doesn’t. Here was my take at the… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Louisiana voters strong, negative feelings about Bobby Jindal could be a factor in the upcoming Louisiana governor’s race

Republican presidential candidate Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal  speaks during the Values Voter Summit, held by the Family Research Council Action, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in Washington. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Looking for one statistic to explain how this year’s governor’s race is shaping up? The new Advocate/WWL-TV poll, rolled out all last week, offers a choice of them, from primary and runoff matchups to favorability ratings to questions on whether voters care if a candidate once voted to raise taxes (not so much) or has been… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace quick take: David Vitter the target of subtle and direct shots in Louisiana governor's race debate

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Gubernatorial candidates including Rev. Jeremy Odom, second left, Louisiana Public Service Commissioner, Dist. 2., Scott Angelle, State Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Baton Rouge, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, and attorney Cary Deaton, talk before they  take part in a debate at New Orleans NBC affiliate WDSU in New Orleans, La. Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015.

The first televised debate between the four major gubernatorial candidates was actually a debate between six hopefuls, not just U.S. Sen. David Vitter, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and state Rep. John Bel Edwards but also little known Cary Deaton and Jeremy Odom. This was one of several reasons it was frustrating to watch.… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: There is hope Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal could take the Republicans’ Iowa caucus, but what’s next?

Bobby Jindal

For months now, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has been almost entirely fixated on far-off Iowa, which will hold the nation’s first presidential caucuses Feb. 1. He’s got good reason. In recent years, the Republican contest has been kind to candidates like Jindal, politicians who are personable face-to-face and who wear their religiosity on their sleeves.… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: House speaker John Boehner’s exit leaves unsure path for Louisiana's Steve Scalise

Associated Press Photo by JACQUELYN MARTIN -- U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, walks to the House chamber on Capitol Hill, Sept. 18, for a vote to block Planned Parenthood's federal funds for a year, as Republican leaders labored to keep GOP outrage over abortion from spiraling into an impasse with President Barack Obama that could shut down the government.

Will this turn into one of those “be careful what you wish for” situations for U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise? Too soon to tell, but House Speaker John Boehner’s stunning Friday morning announcement that he plans to step down throws the GOP hierarchy into turmoil. As Congress’ third-ranking Republican, the Jefferson Parish congressman could now move up, stay… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: While Obamacare is far from perfect, it's now gaining acceptance

Although Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton appeared this week just a few miles from where Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal lays his head on those rare nights he spends off the campaign trail, her campaign brushed off the governor’s suggestion that the two should debate health care. With Jindal’s own presidential aspirations… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Networks didn't do Bobby Jindal any favors with undercard debates

Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, speaks Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, during the Faith & Freedom Coalition fall dinner at the Paul Knapp Center in Des Moines, Iowa.  (Michael Zamora/The Des Moines Register via AP)

The suits at Fox News and CNN surely consider the two recent Republican presidential debates smash hits. Both attracted record audiences, 24 million and 23 million, respectively, the kind of numbers that major sports broadcasts often draw. Both spawned memorable moments, most of them involving show-stopping frontrunner Donald Trump. That doesn’t mean they weren’t also failures,… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Will David Vitter’s strategy to lay low while running for governor pay off?

You just can’t trust U.S. Sen. and gubernatorial candidate David Vitter, according to a new attack ad playing widely on television. “We all know David Vitter breaks his word,” says a female narrator hired by Louisiana Rising, a big-money Super PAC supporting one of Vitter’s opponents, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle. Contrast that with Angelle, who,… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Sen. Lindsey Graham asks Bobby Jindal to grow up during GOP debate

Wednesday night’s two-part GOP talkathon produced some memorable exchanges among the party’s 15 candidates for president, but for my money, one of the sharpest came during the so-called junior varsity debate preceding CNN’s three-hour main event. It was when U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham told Gov. Bobby Jindal to grow up. That’s not… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal just can’t seem to escape the sidelines in Republican presidential race

Gov. Bobby Jindal just can’t seem to catch a break. As the huge cast of Republican presidents-in-waiting prepares to gather at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for Wednesday’s second debate, the governor once again finds himself on the undercard rather than part of the main event. If that… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: 2015 could be the year of retreads now that the sign-up list for the fall elections has been set

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING --Gov. Bobby Jindal, left, laughs with Rep. Jeff Arnold, D-New Orleans, center, after congratulated Arnold just after the Representative addressed House members and guests with his retirement speech, on the last day of the Legislative session, Thursday at the State Capitol. Arnold retired as the 'Dean of the House,' the member who has served the longest in that body.

Call it a comeback season, or maybe just the year of the retread. Whatever label you choose, the just-completed sign-up list in this fall’s local elections makes one thing clear: Old politicians don’t fade away. They just sign up to run again. Last week’s three-day qualifying period offered few surprises at the top of the ticket.… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: For all his claims about Donald Trump unserious, Bobby Jindal not exactly coming off as serious either

Republican presidential candidate, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. Jindal said GOP front-runner Donald Trump is an egomaniacal madman who has no principles and who risks costing the party its chance to regain the White House.  (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

Gov. Bobby Jindal is hardly the first person to call GOP front-runner Donald Trump fundamentally unserious, and it would take someone who can actually envision a Trump presidency without curling into the fetal position to disagree. “Unserious” was just one of the unflattering adjectives Jindal hurled Trump’s way during his Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: U.S. Senator David Vitter draws on past political magic

U.S. Senator David Vitter

Has U.S. Sen. David Vitter still got it? I’m not talking about political skill. On that front, even Vitter’s detractors concede his strategic acumen. This is a man who has overcome both his own divisive personality and a major prostitution scandal to win every election in which he’s ever competed, and he’ll… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: President Obama right on climate change threat, because it is real and potentially devastating

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at Andrew P. Sanchez Community Center in New Orleans, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, for the 10th anniversary since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Resilience. It was the official buzzword of the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and I’m guessing plenty of people don’t want to hear about it again for a good long while. Before we stick it on the shelf, though, it’s worth considering the concept, not just in terms of our regional character, but in the context of our… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: A pre-Katrina memory, starring Donald Trump

The day before Katrina took its final, fateful turn, Ray Nagin still had that familiar gleam in his eye, still smiled his infectious smile. I was sitting in the mayor’s City Hall office with several of my colleagues from The Times-Picayune that morning, talking about a future that involved anything but water in the streets and desperate… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Hurricane Katrina didn’t leave a blank slate

Katrina and its aftermath left us with many lessons but none more powerful than this: There’s no such thing as a blank slate. The idea that post-Katrina New Orleans was exactly that was understandably tantalizing in some circles, and not just among those with ugly motives. Yet, the notion also turned… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace quick take: Obama seems fond of New Orleans; speech only quickly mentioned coastal restoration

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- President Barack Obama gives remarks Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, at the Andrew P. Sanchez & Copelin-Byrd Multi-Service Center in the Lower Ninth Ward. The president met with residents and participated in a roundtable discussion as part of a week of events commemorating the10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

. Here's Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace's "Quick Take" on President Barack Obama's visit to New Orleans: 1) President Barack Obama and Mayor Mitch Landrieu seem to have quite the mutual admiration society. Landrieu thanked the president profusely and said Obama loves New Orleans and it loves him back. Obama returned the accolades. To the crowd, he… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Bobby Jindal's stance on education not that special in GOP

It can be hard to pinpoint the moment when Gov. Bobby Jindal’s presidential quest began, but it certainly dates back long before his official announcement in June. I’d probably point to early 2012, when Jindal launched a single-minded, heavy-handed drive to pass a set of ambitious K-12 education… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Confederate monument debate gives Bobby Jindal, David Vitter chance to take sudden interest in New Orleans

U.S. Senator David Vitter and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. (Advocate file photo by Arthur D. Lauck)

When, exactly, did Bobby Jindal and David Vitter become so concerned about New Orleans? The lame-duck governor and the senator who wants his job, both conservative Republicans, rarely focus on local matters in the most Democratic city they represent, and it’s safe to say that the indifference is mutual. Yet suddenly, both are all… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: As Louisianans clamor for a new path, governor's candidates struggle to be noticed

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Gubernatorial candidates, from left to right, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, State Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne participate in a forum hosted by Louisiana State Troopers Association at the Crown Plaza hotel Saturday.  Retired La. State Police Chief of Staff Lt. Col. Mark Oxley, the event moderator, is in background.

There are three main messages out of the LSU Public Policy Research Lab’s new political poll. One is to national voters, and it amounts to yet another cautionary note about Gov. Bobby Jindal and his presidential ambitions. The poll of 1,023 residents, including 879 registered voters, shows that the 59 percent of… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Removing New Orleans' Confederate monuments doesn’t mean rewrite of history

Advocate staff photo by Ian McNulty - Lee Circle in New Orleans.

I’d never given much thought to Robert E. Lee or Jefferson Davis, let alone P.G.T. Beauregard or the White League instigators of the Battle of Liberty Place, until recently. Maybe that comes with not being a native Southerner, or maybe it’s just that they didn’t seem at all relevant to modern life.… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Top-tier prime time GOP debate made Bobby Jindal, other candidates seem small

Republican presidential candidate, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, speaks at the RedState Gathering, Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Last week was never going to be a good one for Gov. Bobby Jindal. Try as he did, there’s no positive way to spin the failure of a former congressman, two-term governor and ex-chairman of the Republican Governors Association to qualify for the first prime-time presidential debate. But was it really that bad? Irrevocably bad? Potentially… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Bobby Jindal’s focus on Iowa is a smart political move for his presidential campaign

Candidates participate in a pre-debate forum at the Quicken Loans Arena, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. Seven of the candidates have not qualified for the primetime debate. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Republican voters who tuned in to the first officially sanctioned presidential debate Thursday night didn’t get to hear Gov. Bobby Jindal’s pitch, nor that of any of the other candidates relegated by Fox News’ poll-driven selection process to an earlier, second-tier showdown. Unless those voters were watching the prime-time debate from their… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: No 'machine-gun bacon' or destroyed cellphones, but Bobby Jindal’s publicity stunts are still stunts -- and they're not working

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (file photo)

Mike Huckabee likened the Iran deal negotiated by President Barack Obama to the Holocaust, arguing that it “will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.” Ted Cruz said the deal positions Obama as “the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism.” Cruz also filmed a video that demonstrates… Continue reading →