Cooksey hints at run for Landrieu’s Senate seat

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2000

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / June 3, 2000

DESTREHAN – U.S. Rep. John Cooksey came within a whisker of announcing hiscandidacy for the United States Senate against incumbent Mary Landrieu during a reception held by the Republican Women of St. Charles.The remarks, made at Ormond Country Club, also commented on President Clinton, saying, “Bill Clinton’s biggest character flaw is that he’s a coward.

He’s been a coward forever.”Dr. Cooksey, a Monroe-area ophthalmologist, is serving his second term asCongressman for Louisiana’s Fifth District. He addressed the GOP ladies onthe topic: “What’s Happening in Congress.”Cooksey observed first that Louisiana has suffered with “bad politics and bad politicians” for the last 100 years, but he said the recent conviction of former Gov. Edwards could signal that the state and its electorate are nowmoving in the right direction.

Discussing Social Security, Cooksey said that by 2013, as the current “baby boomers” begin retiring, “it will be drawn down very rapidly in a short period of time.” However, with sound fiscal attention and alternatives to thecurrent program, the Social Security system will be sound enough by that time to handle the burden.

Currently, 14 percent of salaries are paid into the Social Security system and Congress is reluctant to raise that percentage by any amount. Instead,alternatives such as raising the qualifying age to 67 and setting up a program similar to a 401(k), where recipients can have a hand in controlling investments of their own contributions are being discussed.

In education, Cooksey noted that only 11 percent of the federal budget goes to education, leaving control overwhelmingly in the hands of state and local governments.

“We do not need politicians in Washington running education in St. CharlesParish,” Cooksey said, pointing out that one of the worst education systems in the nation is that run in Washington D.C. itself.Looking ahead to the fall presidential and congressional elections, Cooksey predicted a slight increase in the GOP’s lead in Congress and in retaining control of both houses. “We think we’re in a good position even though thereare more Republicans retiring or keeping to their own three-term limits.”He continued that the Democratic party has a lot of “career politicians” and warned that 97 percent of incumbents are historically re-elected.

Despite that observation, Cooksey said as to the notion he may challenge Sen. Landrieu, “I’m considering that very seriously. I have basically made mydecision.”Cooksey said George W. Bush has an eight-point lead against Vice PresidentGore, but he predicted the race will tighten up as election day this fall draws near.

He said the GOP will do well with Hispanic voters, but that Clinton’s scandalous actions lost the “soccer mom” vote for the Democrats.

Cooksey thanked the Republican women for their hard work in the past, but noted that the GOP did not carry Louisiana in the past two presidential elections.

Cooksey also commented on the race for U.S. Senate in New York and pointedout that Hillary Clinton is a “bright, driven woman,” but that polls among men indicate “she reminds them of their first wife.”He warned that Hillary Clinton, like her husband, has “an insatiable desire for power,” and that she is using this race “as a stepping-stone for another office – and that should send chills down your spine.”Cooksey concluded his remarks by saying politics “can be distasteful, but it’s the best means to convert philosophy into policy.”On the local scene, Cooksey commented he favors a new, intermodal international cargo-airport. He agreed that New Orleans Airport needs alonger runway but asserted “there’s so much patronage involved with operating the airport that if we sent money a lot of it would end up in some other place.”St. Charles Parish President Albert Laque also presented Cooksey with thekey to the parish, and the organization presented him with a copy of “The New Federalist Papers.”

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