By Jeff Thomas
New Louisiana Attorney General, Jeff Landry, is out of control. Drunk with power and prestige and legitimacy, Landry seems hellbent on embedding right wing ideology into state government policies. After soundly defeating former AG Billy Caldwell, a former Democrat who switched parties to maintain political solvency in Louisiana, the right wing extremist immediately started his crusade.
Landry fight with Edwards
Louisiana has seen this charade before. With disastrous results, past governor Bobby Jindal created policies and a budget based upon his desire to seek higher office. So rather than make decisions best for the citizens of Louisiana, Jindal made decisions that would appease a right wing extremist constituency that he hoped would back him for the Presidency. Not only did Jindal’s presidential aspirations go down in flames, the state was left with a budget morass that required the highest tax increases in state history to solve.
Now Landry, with an eye on the governor’s mansion, is calling plays from the Jindal playbook. In an attempt to illuminate the clear schism between himself and the current governor, Landry is trying to push discrimination and hate into state contracts. As America continues to evolve and grow, ideologues like Landry are promoting a closed society that seek to push people to the fringes of society.
Louisiana governor, John Bel Edwards, issued an executive order last spring requiring language be included in all state contracts to protect LGBT people from firing and harassment. Similar language preventing discrimination based on race, religious creed or political affiliation is also included in all contracts. But Landry’s office has rejected all contracts that include this language. Reminiscent of the federal government shutdowns caused by Landry’s ideological compadres, state services are being curtailed by Landry’s obstructionist actions.
But worse is the embarrassing spectacle Landry made of himself and the state last week in DC. Landry lied, distorted facts and acted in a way totally unbecoming of an attorney, much less the Attorney General of the state of Louisiana. Landry falsely described New Orleans as a “sanctuary city” and claimed that a tragic crash that claimed the life of a beloved fire chief and two men from Mississippi would not have happened if NOLA were not a so called “sanctuary city.”
The driver that caused the crash did not live in NOLA and worked for a company that was not based in NOLA. Furthermore, NOLA Mayor Mitch Landrieu insists that the city is not a “sanctuary city” and that the city prosecutes undocumented people who break the law. Yet Landry continues to insist that the driver of the vehicle that plowed into the unsuspecting victims was living and working in NOLA because he was able to commit crimes and roam freely. Neither is true and Landry knows it.
His ploy to create an ideological gulf between himself and the governor only hurts the citizens of this state. His government shutdown tactics do nothing to serve the state and have nothing to do with his responsibilities as AG.
Black Vote Propelled Him to Victory
And his miscalculation of African American support is fueling his outlandish tactics. In his race against Buddy Caldwell, African Americans viewed Landry as the lesser of two evils. At the behest of Geri Baloney and political operatives in NOLA, Blacks were informed of racist remarks and a racist attitude espoused by Caldwell and hugely supported Landry. In one of the strangest bedfellow alignments in Louisiana political history, the African American community in NOLA and around the state left Caldwell, a former Democrat, and gave a right wing Tea Party ideologue the support he needed to win the AG seat.
But Landry’s chances of keeping the African American vote are about as strong as Jindal’s presidential campaign was. If he wants to be more than a one term AG, Landry should do his job, like members of the legislature urge.