Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco isn't generally known for political savvy, but she showed some smarts last week. That's when, to my knowledge, she was the first governor to have her name appear on the front page of ESPN.com, in conjunction with an article describing her lobbying efforts to get the LSU Tigers' football team a Bowl Championship Series berth.
This action raised a few eyebrows. Shouldn't bowl officials pick the best teams available, free from political influence? Or, at the very least, shouldn't they do what they usually do and pick the teams that will bring in the most money?
But, despite the questions of impropriety, Blanco's action was quite clever. The reason: LSU was never in serious jeopardy of missing out on a BCS bowl. The team ranked fifth in the BCS standings when the governor made her pitch and ended up in fourth. Ten teams play in the five BCS games, so excluding LSU never would have made any sense, even though they weren't guaranteed a spot as a conference winner.
Now, heading into her 2007 reelection campaign, Blanco can say she helped secure the Tigers a spot in the Sugar Bowl (assuming no one remembers that she was reported as lobbying the presidents of the Rose and Orange Bowls, not the Sugar), which will earn LSU a multi-million dollar payout from the BCS.
The lesson here is that it rarely hurts to promise to make something good happen when you know it's already inevitable.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.