Breaux's governor hopes turn up heat on attorney general

Legal News Line Mar. 27, 2007, 6:05am

Charles Foti

The futures of some Louisiana Democrats could hinge on whether Attorney General Charles Foti decides if former U.S. Senator John Breaux can run for governor in 2008. And one of those Democrat futures at risk could be Foti's own, say some political observers. Breaux announced late last week that he would seek a ruling from Foti on whether he meets residential requirements to run for governor. Breaux lives and is registered to vote in Maryland and works in Washington, D.C. as a lobbyist. The Louisiana governorship is vacant because unpopular Democratic incumbent Kathleen Blanco has decided against a second term. State Republicans claim his recent residency makes Breaux ineligible to run for Governor under a Louisiana constitutional requirement that a candidate be a state citizen for "at least the preceding five years." The state GOP has already begun an advertising campaign labelling Breaux an unqualified "outsider" based on his out-of-state residency. Because Breaux doesn't have standing to request an attorney general's ruling on his eligibility, Louisiana House Democratic Caucus Chairman Eric LaFleur will do so instead. LaFleur's office will file in the next few days but when Foti's office will reply is unclear. State GOP chairman Roger Villere told the AP that forcing Foti to issue a legal opinion was "a clumsy effort to force a partisan position from our attorney general that contradicts the Louisiana Constitution." And it's one that could easily backfire on Foti, argue the writers of a posting yesterday on Louisiana state-watching blog BayouBuzz. Giving Breaux the nod despite his uncertain state "citizenship" would anger Republicans and draw their fire, the BayouBuzz staff noted. Foti would otherwise have cruised under the GOP radar at the next election, but a ruling in favor of Breaux would make Foti its "public enemy number two," they noted Knocking Breaux out, on the other hand, would anger Democrats as Breaux would be a heavy favorite if he ran. Nonetheless, several Democratic hopefuls are waiting for Breaux's final word before declaring their intentions, the AP reports. The primary election for governor will be held Oct. 20.

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