The 1988 Presidential Election in the South: Continuity Amidst Change in Southern Party Politics

By Laurence W. Moreland; Robert P. Steed et al. | Go to book overview

5
Louisiana: Race, Republicans, and Religion

CHARLES D. HADLEY

Continuity continues amidst change in Louisiana politics. The state political trends examined in my essay on the 1984 presidential election--the growing electoral presence of blacks and Republicans and the higher voter turnout in presidential over gubernatorial elections--continue amidst revelations of and convictions for political corruption. 1 Most noteworthy, Republican U.S. Attorney John Volz prosecuted Governor Edwin W. Edwards for selling hospital certificates of need in very long (twenty-one weeks altogether), intensely publicized trials that ended first in a hung jury, and then in acquittal. 2 While the flamboyant governor survived the trials with juries of his working-class peers, he did not survive the ultimate political trial with the Louisiana electorate as his jury, a story to which we will turn shortly.

Federal prosecutors continue to investigate and uncover extortion by state and local officials who ultimately are convicted and sent to federal prison. 3 The helpfulness of raw political influence appears to touch all aspects of public affairs from massive state bond issues, 4 to the persistent award and re-award of lucrative contracts to companies with records of substandard work, 5 to lucrative state jobs demanding little work, if any. 6 By creating and staffing the Office of the Inspector General in 1988 and appointing an aggressive Inspector General, the current state administration is dealing directly with reported improprieties.

Although the percentage increase in voter registration by blacks reached its

-73-

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