Gov. Edwards’ Commissioner of Administration, Jay Dardenne
Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns has been keenly interested in Louisiana politics going all the way back to when he was in second grade when, in 1971, then-Congressman Edwin Washington Edwards was seeking to become the next Louisiana Governor in a crowded field that included former Governor Jimmie Davis. Burns’ father, Melven, who would pass away only 13 years after that election, was bitterly opposed to Edwards, so Robert, knowing nothing more at that point in his life than to “trust dad,” would support whomever his father supported, but he would also attempt to learn as much as he could about why his dad was so bitterly opposed to Edwards.
On the night of the primary, Melven was furious to see that Edwards finished first with 23.5% of the vote, and the candidate he supported, J. Bennett Johnston, finished a distant second with 17.8%. Those were the days of closed primaries, and it was unheard of to be a registered Republican in those days, and nobody in Burns’ family was Republican (though Robert became the first to register Republican when he registered the day after his 18th birthday in 1981).
Melven told Robert that he hoped that Johnston could corral the support of the others in the race who failed to make the runoff and knock Edwards out. That didn’t happen, and Edwards defeated Johnston by a razor-thin 0.2% of the vote, or less than 5,000 votes total. Accordingly, Melven resigned himself to Edwards being the next Governor of Louisiana, but not without a last-ditch effort on Melven’s part to keep that from transpiring.
Melven explained to then eight-year-old Robert that there was one last small glimmer of hope, and that was that the Republican candidate, Dave Treen, might pull off a miracle and win the general election. Melven even called Treen’s campaign headquarters and requested that a large “Dave Treen for Governor” sign be nailed to two trees in his front yard such that every car would see it as it passed by. Robert even recalls his school bus driver at the time, Ms. Wallace, as she picked Robert up for school, asking with shock, “Your parents are voting for Dave Treen?” Robert responded, “Yes, ma’am, Ms. Wallace. I’m hoping you will too.” She responded that would “never” happen.
Everyone reading this feature who was alive at the time knows it would have been impossible for Dave Treen to prevail in a statewide election for Governor in 1971 because the state was dominated by the Democratic party, and the results of the election reflected that fact as Edwards defeated Treen by a resounding 58-42 margin.
Robert, who has continued to live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana all of his life, has remained intrigued by Louisiana’s gubernatorial elections. All of the preceding material was rehashed for one sole reason. Burns watched the Friday meeting of the Senate Finance Committee’s hearing on the upcoming budget for Fiscal ’19, and his take is that he’s never in his now 46-year history of following Louisiana politics seen such a colossal miscalculation, blunder, and leverage-overplay as current Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has recently made.
By now, everyone not living in a cave is aware that Edwards opted to send “eviction notices” to residents of Louisiana nursing homes. Evidence of the degree to which Edwards drastically overplayed his hand in that regard was on full display from friend and foe alike at Friday’s Senate Finance Committee meeting. Members readily demonstrated their anger at the overplay by strongly attacking his messenger and Commissioner of Administration, Jay Dardenne, at Friday’s hearing after Dardenne first added to the animosity by first telling members of the Committee point-blank that, “You failed.”
Let’s take a look, shall we?
Five-minute highlight of Dardenne rebuking members of the Senate Finance Committee.
The retorts were fast and furious. First let’s examine the most influential one: Sen. President John Alario, who has been a close ally of Gov. Edwards:
Sen. President John Alario vents frustration with Dardenne to include it being the administration’s decision to send out those nursing home notices.
Alario’s commentary was quickly followed by Sen. Sharon Hewitt (R-Slidell), who has been mentioned as a potential rival of Gov. Edwards in next year’s campaign:
Sen. Hewitt vents frustration with Dardenne.
Next up to express their frustrations were Sen. Jack Donahue (R-Mandeville) and Sen. Bodi White (R-Central):
Senators Donahue and White vent their frustration with Dardenne.
If a casual observer didn’t know any better, he would think Dardenne still harbors resentment entailing his own defeat to Edwards in 2015 and is now quietly extracting his pound of flesh by sabotaging Edwards’ tenure as Governor. That’s how bad this whole presentation came across.
The problem with that logic is that everyone knows Dardenne was taking his marching orders directly from Edwards, who has now proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that he is: 1) arrogant, 2) a dictator (as evidenced by his unwillingness to provide budget details to the very legislators whom he now openly chastises), and 3) not remotely in Edwin Edwards’ league on political savvy.
Consequently, even as Hayride publisher and great friend and supporter of this blog, Scott McKay, has openly speculated this may be the beginning of Gov. Edwards’ lame-duck tenure before being “cooked” next year, we are willing to take it a step further.
We deem this type “macro-level” screw up, when combined with the numerous “micro level” screw ups we’ve dutifully tracked during this governor’s 2 1/2 years in office, to be a death knell to his re-election potential.
We’ll see come October of 2019 but, Governor, this isn’t 1971 and, to borrow a phrase from Lloyd Bentsen, “You’re no Edwin Edwards!”
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