Breaux Not Running for Governor

John Breaux is not running for governor of Louisiana.

John Breaux Photo Not Running for Governor Democratic former U.S. Sen. John Breaux said Friday he will not be a candidate for governor this fall because he did not get a definitive legal opinion from the state attorney general clearing up his status as a citizen of the state. In a lengthy statement issued through the state Democratic Party, Breaux said the failure to obtain “a clear declaration of my status as a citizen greatly inhibits my ability to conduct a campaign based on the issues instead of the law. I said I would be guided by the attorney general’s opinion and, therefore, will not be a candidate.”

Attorney General Charles Foti refused to issue an opinion, claiming the matter would ultimately go to court and should be resolved by a judge.

The 70-year-old Foti is a Democrat, in case you were wondering.

This makes Republican Congressman Bobby Jindal the odds-on favorite to win the election. Breaux was the only Democrat with the stature to be an obvious challenger and I’m not sure he wanted to risk ending a storied political career in defeat.

State GOP Chairman Roger Villere is probably right in this assessment:

I believe he was intrigued by the thought of running and thought that when he announced that it’d be handed to him. (But) I think it reached the point where he was looking for a way out. When Foti came out with the decision he made, it gave (Breaux) a way to move on with his life and his career as a consultant and a lobbyist. John realized he didn’t have anywhere to go but go home, go back to Maryland.

The last dig, while funny, is rather unfair. Breaux served in the U.S. House from 1972-1987 and the Senate from 1987-2005, representing first his district and then his state. Still, the fact of the matter is that he has now spent more of his life living in the Washington, D.C. area than in Louisiana. Indeed, he was only 28 when elected to Congress and he actually worked as a staffer for his predecessor, Edwin Edwards, before that.

And, frankly, for someone of Breaux’ stature, being a lobbyist is less stressful and more lucrative than being governor. Even in Louisiana.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. William d'Inger says:

    Breaux was the only Democrat with the stature to be an obvious challenger and I’m not sure he wanted to risk ending a storied political career in defeat.

    I’ve lived in Louisiana most of my life, and I can assure you John Breaux would have won in a landslide. His risk of defeat was so small that it probably wasn’t even considered in his calculations.

    My gut feeling is that he probably asked Foti to flub the issue so Breaux could bow out gracefully. The only reason he got sucked into the morass in the first place was because the current governor is so lame that she dare not run for a second term, leaving Breaux as the only Democrat who could handily defeat Jindal.

  2. James Joyner says:

    John Breaux would have won in a landslide. His risk of defeat was so small that it probably wasn’t even considered in his calculations.

    That’s not what the polling shows:

    There likely would be a runoff between Republican front-runner Bobby Jindal and former U.S. Sen. John Breaux, a Democrat if the Louisiana gubernatorial primary were held today, pollster Verne Kennedy’s recent poll shows.

    The poll, which Kennedy released Tuesday, also shows that Jindal likely would win that runoff.

    But the race actually will be closer because Republicans are showing up in the poll with more Democratic core voter support than GOP candidates generally get on election day, Kennedy said. “That would likely make the top primary candidates closer than they appear in this trial heat.”

    Kennedy polled 600 voters March 29-April 3 for client John Georges, a Metairie businessman and a Republican candidate for governor.

    When the poll concentrated only on Jindal, Breaux and Georges, the responses to the question about which candidate the respondent would chose if the election were today were 39 percent for Jindal, 30 percent for Breaux and 14 percent for Georges, with 17 percent uncertain.

    In the trial heat between Jindal and Breaux, 49 percent chose Jindal and 36 percent Breaux, with 15 percent undecided.

    Kennedy and University of Louisiana-Lafayette political scientist Pearson Cross, who reviewed a full copy of the poll at this newspaper’s request, agreed that perhaps the most important finding is that a majority of voters are looking for a complete overhaul of state government: 51 percent preferred an overhaul compared to 39 percent who said they favored someone who will work with the existing system.

  3. William d'Inger says:

    Don’t believe it!

    Louisiana is still mostly a Democratic state. Breaux would have gotten 99% of the Cajun vote because they always vote for one of their own. Breaux would have gotten 95% of the black vote because he would be perceived as the liberal. Breaux would have gotten 100% of the Klan vote because Jindal is, you know, not white. Breaux has always taken a large share of the female vote because he is rogueishly handsome. His name recognition is greater because he’s been a public figure for so long.

    So far, Jindal has always been a default candidate. He’s been elected mostly because there has been no viable alternative or because he was the only fresh face on a slate of dull, oldtime political hacks. He is not especially popular here in his home district; he’s just all we’ve got at the moment. I personally dislike his job hopping from one election to the next. What we need is someone who will stay the course in congerss and build up sufficient seniority to bring home the bacon.

    If you run short of toilet tissue, you can use that poll.

  4. Mark says:

    I’m surprised. This is Louisiana we’re talking about, after all. Surely there would have been some judges that could have been bribed convinced that Breaux was still a citizen of the state!

  5. William d'Inger says:

    The general opinion here is that the court(s) would rule in Breaux’s favor. The state constitution is so vague on the subject that it was virtually a foregone conclusion that he’d be declared a citizen of the state. That makes it even more likely that he wasn’t interested in the job and had caved in to pressure from the Democratic Party. I think Breaux is the happiest Democrat alive that the attorney general gave him an out.

    By the way, I am offended that you presume Louisiana judges can be bribed. What proof do you have that they are any more or less honest than judges anywhere else?

  6. Mark says:

    Uh, William,

    We’re talking about Louisiana here. Granted, my joke was a bit in jest (and would make more sense if the comment accepted by strike code, but face it: jokes about Louisiana political corruption are second to none. Well, maybe second to Chicago…

  7. William d'Inger says:

    Well, you do have a point.

    jokes about Louisiana political corruption are second to none.

    Personally, when the need arises, I joke about political corruption in New Jersey.

  8. TJIT says:

    Too bad so many Louisiana residents are focused on electing people to bring home the bacon.

    It would be nice if they would focus on electing people who would help create a functioning, non-corrupt, state and local government. Something that might stop the slow motion train wreck Louisiana has been for decades.