16 November 2023
Dustin Granger sees this situation as a potential antidote to Republican Governor-elect Jeff Landry, but the progressive candidate still faces an uphill battle this coming November.
In late September, citizens of Avoyelles Parish, the heart of Louisiana, gathered to hear speeches from the candidates on Saturday, October 14, just weeks before the primary election. Among the elected candidates, the majority-white, majority-Republican community heard from Dustin Granger, the progressive Democratic candidate for state treasurer. One Republican in particular, a man wearing a T-shirt with former President Donald Trump’s image printed across his chest, was particularly impressed by Granger’s call for progressive economic reform.
“The message is universal. The guy in the Trump shirt was shaking his head the whole time, and another gentleman came up and said, ‘Wow. Keep saying this again and again. You got my vote,” Granger said.
Granger, a financial advisor from Lake Charles, is one of three statewide Democratic candidates who ran after a disastrous primary election that resulted in the Democratic Party losing the governorship outright and without a runoff – a result that some political pundits Saw it happen. Governor-elect Jeff Landry, a Republican similar to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, will lead Louisiana over the next four years. The Republican-dominated legislature, which includes many conservative Democrats, will provide much support to Landry during his term.
Granger will once again compete for the treasurer’s seat in the Nov. 18 election. Granted, he has to struggle hard to climb; He is the underdog in the runoff against Republican former Representative John Fleming, a longtime political career who is looking to boost his state profile; He is representing a deeply mismanaged state Democratic Party; And, ultimately, he is likely running in an election with low turnout.
But what sets him apart from nearly all other Democrats in Louisiana — and what will give him a fighting chance on Saturday — is the populist message at the heart of his campaign.
Granger is a staunch opponent of Louisiana’s massive economic mismanagement – the real issue is impacting people’s lives in the Pelican State. Working-class people of all backgrounds have seen money for public benefits increasingly taken away from state budgets. “Our economy is a classic case of trickle-down economics, where we have all the gifts for those at the top, including the rich and multinational corporations. They get gifts and tax breaks and that’s by design,” Granger said. “This leads to cuts in public investment, health and education, and when the legislature can’t cut any more, they raise taxes on working people. “This happens again and again.”
Southern conservative politics is full of fanatical dog whistles seeking to play on the inherent prejudices of working-class white people in the interest of maintaining corporate profits. In short, the Republicans’ regressive “culture war” policies serve as a distraction while they “line all of our pockets,” as Granger puts it. He wants to reduce the noise and use the Treasurer’s office as a bastion for working-class people in Louisiana by advocating for stronger climate protection and green energy job policies, a living wage, insurance reform and premium insurance assistance. wants to invest in the citizens of; Addressing the food and banking deserts prevalent in small towns; and protecting civil rights—which would prevent youth from leaving the state in large numbers.
As the state’s progressive economic leader, Granger would also serve as an important check on Landry’s far-right administration. The Treasurer heads the State Bond Commission, which, among other things, uses state debt to finance infrastructure projects, meaning Granger will have a bigger voice over how the state’s millions are spent. How funds should be allocated. This position is constitutionally required to advise Landry and the legislature on the state’s economic climate before the legislative session begins, meaning he can potentially steer budget discussions in ways that benefit Louisiana’s working class. The majority will benefit.
“People just want someone to explain to them what’s going on, make sense to them, and also tell them that the division they’re always seeing is by design. It’s designed to hurt everyone except the small, greedy few at the top. They’re the only people who do well with it, Granger said.
Most Louisiana Democrats avoid advocating progressive values, thinking it will hurt their re-election chances. Yet, as Granger proved in ruby-red Avoyelles Parish, speaking truth to power would resonate with working-class people regardless of political affiliation. Democrats cannot shy away from this runoff election lest they risk ceding complete control to a far-right administration eager to terrorize the state’s most vulnerable citizens for years to come. Instead, Democrats need to embrace Granger’s progressive goodwill and engage with her.
Read the rest of StudentNation’s messages on the 2023 elections here.