Friday, November 14, 2003

Tomorrow is the election for the governorship of Louisiana. 

What a few weeks it has been since I jumped on the forum for Louisianademocrats@yahoo.com and predicted Kathleen Blanco had all but lost the election to Bobby Jindal. Several of us exchanged very worried messages. In the process, I was invited to a women's breakfast for Blanco which was held last Saturday, the day of the full moon eclipse.

I knew there would be no shortage of emotional energy due to the eclipse; what I didn't expect was the effort we all made, all 1000+ of us women, to lift each other's spirits, and in the process, Kathleen's. She said, "Ya'll have inspired me and convinced me we can do it". I believe her. She had been dropping in the polls. I'm sure she lost some hope, as we were all struggling to keep the faith.

Today the race is neck and neck, and I can tell you, that something good happened in that room last Saturday. I'm not saying it is the reason for Kathleen's surge in the polls, but it is amazing what women who support and care for each other can influence and accomplish.

The breakfast began with a spontaneous second line, with the fantastic Storyville Stompers. My friend and I jumped into the back of line, waving the large, white dinner napkins next to our plates. The trombone player swang that horn right above our heads. I told my friend we were dancing for justice.

There were several moving testimonials from black activists and politicians, all women, that Kathleen had helped in some way in the course of her long, excellent career. Renee Gil-Pratt, a New Orleans City Councilwoman, described how the Essence Festival wanted to abandon New Orleans as the venue for its yearly festival, because of a difference with the state of Louisiana over discrimination and hiring. Blanco stepped in, as Lt. Governor, and negotiated a compromise between the state and the festival. That is a victory worth 100 million dollars a year for New Orleans.

Senator Mary Landrieu was there with her brother, Mitch, who was just elected Lt. Governor. They got up on stage together, and Mitch described how Mary has won her last two elections by one vote per precinct. Mary shook her head solemnly. We all know the incredible effort we have to put forth to defeat the money of the republican party.

Mary led a cheer, Go Blanco Go, and we sent Kathleen out on cloud 9.

Kathleen is a hard-working, no-nonsense yet compassionate woman who exemplifies the Big Tent of the democratic party. She met with the gay and lesbian groups in the state while Jindal refused, saying he "didn't have the time". Like my friend said, he isn't honest enough to admit gays don't jive with his religious fanaticism. Even some nationally known bloggers found and circulated religious articles Jindal wrote in the early 90's, pertaining supposedly to Jindal's brush with demonic possession, and his belief in the Catholic Church as the only true church.

We've all been a bit hard on Blanco these last few weeks, as she dived from a 10 point lead to about a 10 point deficit in the polls about three weeks ago. I know there were many hard on her, because I was one of the ones who called her campaign headquarters in Lafayette to express my fears and dissappointment in her campaign so far. The worker I spoke to said they were receiving many worried calls from her supporters. I wasn't just a naysayer, however, as me and several from the La. demos@yahoo.com had very concrete and excellent suggestions as to how she could better exploit his weaknesses and her strengths. Someone at the headquarters was not supposed to give me a particular email address, which I used to send several emails filled with suggestions for ads and strategies in the remaining two weeks.

I have no idea wether our emails were regarded or not, but Blanco laid out some hard hitting ads on TV, mailouts and the radio which dealt direct hit on Jindal. There is no other way to run for office these days against republicans. You have to answer each attack, and uncover and expose their political weaknesses.

Blanco stayed away from the more controversial issues regarding Jindal's religious beliefs, but she did challenge him on the inclusivity issue. She really didn't have to bring up the articles he wrote, because with the help of us yellow dog democrats, the articles are circulating anyway. Blanco almost waited too late to attack him, at forst running ineffective ads claiming to be a victim of Jindal's attacks. This is not what the voters want to hear. They want to hear that someone is strong enough to take the republicans on toe to toe, without lying in the process. It is not playing dirty to expose what you believe are the political weaknesses of another.

We have to be stronger than they are, especially in spirit.