Malaka Of The Week: Katie Bernhardt

There’s an immutable rule of political ads. If someone brandishes or shoots a gun, that person is pandering to voters’ worst instincts. And that is why Katie Benhardt is malaka of the week.

Here’s the questionable ad in question:

That’s right, she wants to be governor. We’ll circle back to that after I tell you more about her.

Katie Bernhardt is an oil heiress from Lafayette, Louisiana. Her late father was a major political donor. She’s been playing at politics for at least a decade but has never run for office. Given that ad, you may be surprised to learn that she’s a Democrat. I suspect they stole that ending from the Man of La Manchin.

In 2020, Bernhardt won a narrow race to become state Democratic chair. At the time, it was billed as a battle between a moderate and a progressive. The latter is the best organizer in Gret Stet politics, Lynda Woolard. She *is* a liberal, but she’s also a technician who ran John Bel Edwards GOTV efforts in 2015 and 2019. He’s a Blue Dog, so the progressive label for Lynda is somewhat simplistic. Like me, she’s a member of the get shit done wing of the Democratic party.

Disclaimer: Lynda is an online friend and real-life acquaintance.

Bernhardt is not a modest woman. In 2020, she claimed:

“We need a leader who can bring all our people together to get the job done — a uniter,” she said. “I come to this job with the experience and reputation of putting words into action, deeply committed to fighting for equity for all our people.


“I think that’s why I’ve been able to secure support from people all over our state from all walks of life. We have a lot of work to do, but we will  see democrats getting elected from Haynesville to Grand Isle, from dog catcher to U.S. Senate under my leadership.”

Three years later, Gret Stet Democrats are in worse shape than under former chair, convicted felon, and degenerate gambler Karen Carter Peterson. Disclaimer: I knew KCP socially many years ago. I didn’t like her then and thought she was a lousy state party chair.

Back to Katie Bernhardt.

She engineered the Dems debacle in the 2022 Senate race. The party was unable to endorse one candidate so they endorsed three against an incumbent with a massive war chest. Senator John Neely Kennedy may be a punchline on Twitter and a punching bag for me but he’s won six statewide races.

The top two Democrats Luke Mixon and Gary Chambers got 30.5% between them against Senator Soundbite. Mixon is a squishy moderate, Chambers a mouthy progressive. Mixon was Bernhardt’s candidate. He finished third behind Neely and Chambers. I guess that makes Luke a Crazy Mixon up kid. I already have Mixon feelings about that pun…

Chambers criticized Bernhardt during the campaign last year:

Gary Chambers, one of the two leading Democratic challengers to incumbent Louisiana Republican U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, is accusing white state party Chair Katie Bernhardt of racism and sabotaging his chance for an exclusive party endorsement.


“Katie Bernhardt told me last year she didn’t believe a Black man can win in Louisiana,” Chambers said in an interview with USA Today Network. “The Democratic Party isn’t racist, but Katie Bernhardt may be.”

She was posing the wrong question. There was no chance of unseating Neely. That election should have followed Georgia’s example and made the race about party building. Instead, Bernhardt alienated Chambers and vexed black voters. Heckuva job, Katie.

You’ve seen the ad. Now, Katie Bernhardt wants to run for Governor. There’s a crowded GOP field and Democrats best shot is to unite behind one contender and force a run-off. Bernhardt is not the right person to unite the party. She’s a divider, not a uniter.

Bernhardt hopes to fail upward. Her tenure as state chair has been uninspiring at best. Her rival for party chair described Bernhardt’s abilities as follows:

“The job of the Democratic Party chair is to build infrastructure, recruit candidates and raise money. I have not seen that happen in the last three years,” said Lynda Woolard, a party activist in New Orleans who lost the 2020 chair race to Bernhardt. “She doesn’t have the experience or the skill set to run the state.”

One argument I’ve heard advanced for Bernhardt is that she has business experience and will run state government like a business. How can anyone make that argument with a straight face after the Trump presidency nationally and the Nagin mayoralty locally. Oy, just oy.

I have nothing personal against Katie Bernhardt. I do object, however, to a wealthy woman running for the highest office in the state without previous governmental experience. Being a bad party chair is not a strong argument to be the next Governor. Why not run for lege or Lafayette city council first? I guess lower office is beneath her. And that is why Katie Bernhardt is malaka of the week.

The last word goes to Lucinda Williams with a song about Katie Bernhardt’s home town:



4 thoughts on “Malaka Of The Week: Katie Bernhardt

  1. Jim Bernhardt was her daddy and had political skills, business acumen, and was a close ally of John Breaux. His daughter bought her seat with Daddy’s money. That’s the only thing she inherited.

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