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Democratic chair Katie Bernhardt may run for governor | Native Politics


John Bel Edwards confirmed the Democrats’ path to the Governor’s Mansion in each 2015 and 2019 — have the get together unite behind a single individual, watch the Republicans tear one another up within the main after which defeat the wounded GOP candidate within the runoff.

Whether or not Democrats can line up behind one candidate is now in query after get together chair Katie Bernhardt gave all of the appearances of being a contender in a brilliant PAC-financed advert that started airing Monday.

Within the 60-second spot, Bernhardt by no means says she is planning to run, however the advert consists of the everyday candidate touches, displaying her speaking concerning the want for a greater future, taking pictures a rifle and enjoying along with her youngsters.

She introduces herself twice within the advert and says she’s “somebody able to work laborious for our kids’s future.”

However Bernhardt’s obvious candidacy was roiling Democrats on Monday who’ve been lining up behind Shawn Wilson, the state transportation secretary.

“He needs to be given full consideration,” mentioned Gary Chambers Jr., the highest vote-getting Democrat in final yr’s US Senate election. “He is a person of impeccable integrity and has run a state company blamelessly.”

Wilson mentioned he’s extra more likely to run than not, saying he was in his “closing leg of due diligence.”

Hillar Moore III, the Democratic district lawyer of East Baton Rouge, mentioned he’ll determine subsequent week whether or not he’s operating.

Democratic leaders appear baffled that Bernhardt, who was presupposed to discover a sturdy candidate for the get together, is now significantly contemplating being that candidate.

Edwards would not imagine she should run, mentioned somebody conversant in his pondering.

“I do not know what is going on on,” mentioned Trey Ourso, a former state get together govt director who performed a key exterior function in serving to elect Edwards in 2015 and 2019 and can be anticipated to help the Democratic candidate this yr by means of his Gumbo PAC.

In a short interview, Bernhardt mentioned she “will not be at the moment a candidate. I’m dedicated to discovering a superb candidate to beat Jeff Landry and guaranteeing that we convey collectively get together management, our governor and congressional management for a unified entrance.”

If Bernhardt does run, she additionally must take care of Democrats indignant with choices she has made throughout her three years as get together chair.

Till now, Republican leaders have been wringing their palms over the prospect of a repeat of the 2015 and 2019 races, when a multi-candidate GOP area confronted a single Democrat. To this point, the Republican candidates embody Lawyer Basic Landry, Treasurer John Schroder, state Sen. Sharon Hewitt and state Rep. Richard Nelson.

US Rep. Garret Graves remains to be weighing whether or not to leap into the race.

Louis Gurvich, the state Republican Get together chair, devoted a whole missive final week to fears that Graves entering into the race would break up the get together so badly {that a} Democrat would triumph this yr, in a state the place Republicans maintain all the different statewide workplaces.

“This text is submitted within the hope that conservatives could keep away from the errors of the 2 earlier gubernatorial elections,” wrote Gurvich, who helped engineer a celebration endorsement of Landry that angered Schroder, Hewitt and different main Republicans.

Bernhardt, a 36-year-old enterprise proprietor in Lafayette, was elected the Democrats’ chair in 2020 with guarantees to revitalize the get together after it had misplaced floor over the previous decade in Louisiana.

Younger, energetic and telegenic, she has traveled the state over her tenure to recruit candidates and lift cash. However Republicans have additionally added to their benefit within the state Legislature throughout that point, and at the moment are near having a super-majority in each the Home and the Senate. Republicans have been elected mayor of Shreveport and Monroe, ending years of Democratic rule in each cities.

“The job of the Democratic Get together chair is to construct infrastructure, recruit candidates and lift cash. I’ve not seen that occur within the final three years,” mentioned Lynda Woolard, a celebration activist in New Orleans who misplaced the 2020 chair race to Bernhardt. “She would not have the expertise or the talent set to run the state.”

State Rep. Mandie Landry not too long ago left the Democratic Get together to change into an unbiased largely, she mentioned Monday, as a result of the state get together favored then-state Rep. Royce Duplessis of their New Orleans state Senate race final yr.

“There’s nothing to indicate that she’d be a robust, principled governor as a result of she hasn’t been a robust, principled chair,” Landry mentioned. “If she will get right into a runoff, [Jeff] Landry would wipe the ground along with her.”

Davante Lewis, who knocked off incumbent Lambert Boissiere III to hitch the Public Service Fee, additionally stays sad with Bernhardt as a result of the state get together spent cash to elect Boissiere.

Bernhardt’s chief ally at this level is AP Marullo, a metro New Orleans restaurateur and actual property developer who mentioned he’s spending $150,000 to broadcast the advert with Bernhardt this week in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and Lafayette. It is beneath the banner of the Group Louisiana PAC.

“I believe she’d be a improbable governor,” he mentioned.

Tremendous PACs usually cannot coordinate their actions with a candidate. Marullo mentioned that rule would not apply since Bernhardt will not be operating right now.

Marullo insisted that the advert’s intent was to not assist her.

“It is problem advocacy,” he mentioned. “The problems are how will we entice leaders and the correct leaders and what qualities ought to they possess so we are able to do good issues in Louisiana.”

Marullo mentioned he’s elevating cash from others to finance Group Louisiana to provide extra advertisements that will or could not embody Bernhardt.

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