“BP Effect” Will Have an Impact on Federal Elections in the South


Louisiana political mindsets can be confusing. Just look at the majority support for offshore drilling in the face of our worst peacetime environmental disaster. But there is increasing buzz that those public officials who were most critical of BP have increased their political standing, while those who have coddled the oil giant have diminished their prospects.

The poster child for the “BP Effect” is Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, a Republican, who the AP is reporting just won 71 percent of the vote in Plaquemines Parish. At 51, Mr. Nungesser is a local official whose nearly constant TV presence and candid comments at congressional hearings gave him statewide stature. For example, just last week Nungesser refuted Adm. Thad Allen’s assertion that the government was in charge of the spill response, saying he still doesn’t know who is in charge.

Next up, we’ll see what the BP Effect means in other races, like those for the U.S. House and even the Senate. It’s easy to see political operatives harvesting any pro-BP positions. And since all indications are that fallout from the disaster will get worse on all fronts – especially on the environmental and claims fronts – the oil spill looms as the major political issue in key southern states.

See AP report here: http://www.wkrg.com/gulf_oil_spill/article/official-known-for-criticizing-bp-feds-re-elected/1012599/Oct-02-2010_10-36-pm/

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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