As I sit down to write this article, just over 1,800 people have been confirmed to have died from the Coronavirus. Here in Florida, more than 1,200 people have died from the disease. Considering that Florida has more metro areas and nearly five times the population that Louisiana does, the numbers point to the fact Louisiana has a serious issue on its hands.
Despite John Bel Edwards’ leadership during this crisis, including maintaining a relatively friendly relationship with the White House and following their guidelines, Republicans like Clay Higgins and state legislators are mounting coordinated attacks and criticism of his attempt to keep the death toll down.
A memo obtained by the Bayou Brief revealed that state legislators were using talking points, often word-for-word, from a script given to them to attack Governor Edwards and call for reopening the state, even though the virus is far from under control.
So why would these politicians risk their lives and that of their constituents? It’s easy to say “follow the money trail.” Yes, there are business and economic reasons to rush to reopen, and it’s very likely the state GOP has monied interests breathing down their necks. I’m certainly not denying that, but there is more to it.
Edwards, despite being a Democrat, is relatively well-liked by moderate Republicans in Louisiana, especially being that he is anti-choice and pro-gun. Even though he is term-limited from running again in 2023, his support for a candidate in that election could very well tip it in their favor. With the possible exception of Mitch Landrieu, the former mayor of New Orleans, there aren’t any serious Democratic contenders for governor.
It’s not a huge secret that both Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and Attorney General Jeff Landry have their eye on the office once Edwards’ term is up. Nungesser and Edwards have an excellent working relationship, whereas the relationship between Edwards and Landry has been skirmish after skirmish since the day they both took office.
By undermining Edwards and potentially causing even more of a Coronavirus emergency, Republicans (especially Jeff Landry) can declare the Edwards administration to be an utter failure, and cite the need for returning the governor’s mansion to not just any GOP candidate, but Landry specifically.
Nungesser would be criticized for being too friendly with Edwards, and Landry would point out how time and again he “stood up to the left-wing Edwards” as Louisiana residents died by thousands.
Jeff Landry has been suspiciously quiet during this Coronavirus emergency, but he has the state GOP, along with his proxy, Congressman Clay Higgins, working overtime on his behalf.
Higgins has made attack after attack on Edwards, declaring that stay-at-home orders are a violation of the Constitution and an assault on our freedoms. The Advocate stated that Higgins is “Louisiana’s internet idiot” and while he may very well be an idiot, the former viral video star knows exactly what he is doing.
Higgins owes Jeff Landry a lot of political favors. Landry gave Higgins a marshal’s badge after his reserve marshal’s badge was recalled by the Lafayette City Marshal. That was the fourth law enforcement agency Higgins was forced to leave, the previous three included allegations of misconduct.
There are whispers in some circles that Clay could have been behind bars by now if it wasn’t for the intervention of the attorney general and other state political heavyweights. This is why he’s acting as Landry’s attack dog, encouraging Louisiana residents to participate in the astroturfed protests against public safety going on around the nation.
Louisiana Republicans are playing a deadly political game, and one that could cost thousands more state residents not only their livelihoods, but their lives.
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