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Letters to the Editor 

WHY LANDRIEU REALLY WON

Douglas Brinkley is a prolific author-historian and welcome addition to Louisiana's academic setting. His political analysis of Sen. Mary Landrieu's election is grossly disappointing ("Sweet Victory," April 19). Ostensibly, Brinkley succumbed to the election slant provided by the daily press in attributing the turn of events to "the sugar vote." That is also the issue and the constituency that the senator seemingly prefers crediting for her cane-thin margin of votes.

Neither Landrieu nor the Democratic Party wishes to acknowledge the two primary factors that should be attributed: the New Orleans African-American electorate who reluctantly cast their ballots for Landrieu in the last four hours of polling and 30,000 supporters of Congressman John Cooksey who adamantly refused to vote for Suzanne Haik Terrell or Landrieu, thus staying home for the Dec. 7 runoff election.

To acknowledge this disaffected non-vote would be to concede potential Republican strength. For Mary Landrieu to credit either demographic was to risk alienating the other, as well as a host of yellow dog Democrats. The sugar-vote spin was a clever election night ploy that the media grabbed.

Brinkley's effusive description of Mary Landrieu's victory as "decisive" is highly questionable. A slim 4 percent margin of votes for a six-year incumbent who is a 20-year career politician over a "weak candidate" (Brinkley's words) is far from decisive. Landrieu was not "victorious" over Terrell, as Brinkley asserts. She barely defeated her. Incumbents who have successfully invigorated their voting base return to office with an 8 to 10 percent margin or better. That is a victory.

The black vote alone in her hometown of New Orleans could have secured a Landrieu victory in the November primary. The senator never parted her lips to forewarn 42,000 of "her" voters in Orleans Parish that they were about to be purged from the voter registration rolls. Thus, significant portions of her voting base were alienated, suspicious and resolved to stay home and not vote.

The senator's quote that "I didn't run away from gays, lesbians and Christian organizations" is cruel irony. "I embraced them and started coalition building" adds further insult to the African-American constituency that has been responsible for Landrieu's victory in every election but one -- the governor's primary she lost in 1995.

In 2008, Landrieu will face John Cooksey's restored 30,000 Republicans, Louisiana's 30,000 registered black Republicans and, possibly, Orleans Parish's 42,000 re-registered African Americans who are, as yet, not "embraced," "invigorated," or even thanked by Landrieu. Her eroded, neglected base may not be there for a third-term election charmer.

Have any lessons been learned by the debilitating results of three consecutive elections? Will Landrieu, once again, revert to the old Edwin Edwards method of using inner-city PACs to procure the black vote without a consistent, substantive and direct appeal to that demographic?

The old shuffle-and-smile, last-minute pushes to cajole, coerce and cart African Americans to the polls and a "vote for me and I'll set you free" style of political minstrelsy are sort of like soul food -- bad for us, deleterious to our health, and we know it.
--Genevieve Stewart



INDEPENDENT THINKING

I disagree with Clancy DuBos' assessment of Louisiana's open primary "no party" system ("Our No-Party System," May 27). It did not weaken the Democrat and Republican parties. They lost allegiance because they have no "principles, rules, or philosophies." Based on governmental outcomes and policies, they are almost indistinguishable from one another except for the clienteles they cultivate, the productive folks they exploit, and the rhetoric they employ.

The open primary system has not elected extremists, unless you consider Gov. Mike Foster, Sen. John Breaux, Sen. Mary Landrieu, Mayor C. Ray Nagin, and seven incumbent Congressmen to be radicals.

Why shouldn't the top two vote getters -- regardless of party affiliation -- advance to the runoff? They got the most votes! Most of the election "reform" bills now before the state Legislature would virtually compel independent voters to re-register as Democrats or Republicans in order to participate in the electoral process. Most make it more difficult for an independent to get on the ballot. One bill does not allow independents to advance to the runoff even when they get the most votes.

I would like to hear DuBos' arguments on how these "improved" bills comport with the concept of equal protection of the law. It seems to me an open process where coherent candidates compete on equal footing to give voters real choice is the best democratic system. Giving the Democrat and Republican parties even more elevated legal status and control over voters is a privilege neither major party has earned or deserves.

--Greg Kahn
State Treasurer
Louisiana Libertarian Party

 

OPEN TO ALL

Having religiously read Gambit Weekly since its dawn and having always agreed with your stance on issues, I am compelled to respond to the "no-party" piece ("Our No-Party System," May 27). I moved to Louisiana in the early '70s, and when I went to register to vote as a Republican ... well, you can imagine the guffaws downtown. The move to open primaries gave me a real chance in most elections to make some choice. And my cousin, an independent from Carolina, loves the idea. As to the thought of breeding extremist run-off candidates, many would argue there's too much pablum in the middle.

-- David Ringler

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE

Your piece on television news photographers not getting the credit they deserve ("The Shooters," June 24) prompts me to let you know that's not the case here at WFOR in Miami.

Our photographers are a wonderfully talented group of journalists who contribute hugely to our stories, collaborating with reporters and producers, helping shape our angles, going far beyond just taking pictures. Every piece that a reporter fronts on CBS4 includes an on-screen credit to the photographer who shot it.

--Gary Nelson
Reporter, WFOR CBS4, Miami, FL

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