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Da Winnas and Da Loozas 

Only in Louisiana could you have an election season in which the GOP was the big winner and the state's Republican governor was among the biggest losers. At the same time, the winners also included a prominent black Democratic congressman. Hey, it's Louisiana. Go figure.

So, without further ado, it's time to review the post-season carnage and proclaim Da Winnas and Da Loozas, starting with ...


1. The Republican Party. Statewide and nationally, it was a great season for the GOP. All local Republican congressmen handily won re-election, and the outside "soft" money that poured into attack ads against Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu paid off. Elections Commissioner Suzie Terrell may not be the darling of Gov. Mike Foster, but she carried the GOP standard well enough to put Landrieu into a Dec. 7 runoff -- and now she has the momentum.

2. Bill Jefferson. Six months ago, many anticipated the congressman's political requiem. He oversaw Richard Pennington's disastrous race for mayor, then his daughter lost a special legislative race in the family's political backyard. But Jefferson recovered, not only winning his own re-election easily, but also helping elect new District Attorney Eddie Jordan.

3. State Rep. Vic Stelly. For a long time he was the Lone Ranger pushing "The Stelly Plan" to swap state income taxes for sales taxes. Now the constitutional change bears the Lake Charles lawmaker's name. More than any other current legislator, he will leave a legacy. Amendment 2 by itself was not fiscal reform, but it's definitely part of the mix.

4. Police and Firefighters. They're tired of being used as political footballs by governors in search of tax increases. Now, thanks to passage of Amendment 6, their state supplemental pay has constitutional protection.

5. State Lawmakers. Passage of Amendment 1 allows lawmakers to pre-file some non-fiscal bills during "fiscal-only" sessions, and it lengthens the time of those sessions. The change thus loosens a governor's stranglehold over the legislative process. The longer fiscal sessions also will boost legislative pay by giving lawmakers more days to earn per diem.

Which brings us to ...


1. Harry Connick. The outgoing DA is singing an off-key swan song. During the primary, his office dropped serious charges against two men who subsequently murdered Chris Briede, and his childish refusal to accept responsibility for that screw-up only made things worse for the candidates he backed: Dale Atkins for DA and First Assistant DA Tim McElroy for Criminal Court judge.

2. Mike Foster. He did not fare well at all. He clearly detests Elections Commissioner Suzie Terrell, but his anointed candidate for the U.S. Senate, Congressman John Cooksey of Monroe, finished a distant and disappointing third. Foster also backed Dale Atkins in the New Orleans DA's race and Irma Dixon for Congress. Both lost. On top of all that, he opposed Amendment 1, which passed.

3. BOLD. It's been a tough year for the Central City-based black political group. Jim Singleton lost the mayor's race, then got shut out of a cushy administration job by his old City Council rivals. More recently, BOLD's flagship candidate -- attorney Sidney Cates IV -- lost a cliffhanger in the race for appeals court judge to veteran Criminal Court Clerk Ed Lombard. BOLD also backed Dale Atkins for DA.

4. Ray Nagin. The new mayor's endorsement of DA candidate James Gray in the Oct. 5 primary nearly got Gray into the runoff. Unfortunately for Nagin and Gray, two hurricanes muted the impact of the endorsement. Sometimes luck is the biggest variable of all.

5. Racial Politics. Black candidates who think they don't need white votes, and white candidates who think they can get into a runoff by being the only paleface in the crowd, take note: it's the coalition, stupid. In this town, no bloc of votes should be taken for granted -- or written off.


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