I’ve been observing politics for many years and never can I recall a candidate being branded in trouble for having $3.4 million on hand a year before an election, yet the assertion that the Cassidy campaign was “stuck in neutral” was recently made in a column on The Hayride.
Let’s compare Cassidy’s current position with the milestones of the previous three Republican candidates to face-off against Mary Landrieu for US Senate.
At this time in 1995, Woody Jenkins had just been re-elected without opposition to another term in the legislature and was months away from launching his US Senate campaign.
In 2001 Suzie Terrell wasn’t even thinking about running for the US Senate, busy cleaning up the mess she inherited in the Commissioner of Elections office not announcing her intention to challenge Landrieu until July (!) of 2002, just five months before the primary.
And the ink wasn’t yet dried on John Kennedy’s party switch card in October 2007.
In other words Cassidy isn’t miles but time zones ahead of those who previously made the race against Landrieu.
Cassidy has done everything that could be expected of a candidate at this stage of the campaign.
It’s hard enough to win the attention of voters in a congressional election before Labor Day let alone an entire year before early voting commences yet Cassidy has done a phenomenal job by working media outlets across the state, resulting in trailing the 16-year incumbent by only four points in an August 2013 NRSC poll.
Cassidy demonstrated his commitment to the race by announcing early at the risk of opening himself up for early attacks by national Democrats, and “burned his ships” so there would be no return the House, giving up a seat that is much safer for a sitting Republican after redistricting moved thousands of Democratic voters to the New Orleans-based Second District.
Come January 2015, Bill Cassidy is either going to be trying to repeal ObamaCare as US Senator or wrestling with it as a full-time doctor.
Cassidy has stumped the state at well-attended town hall meetings, and will do so more aggressively in the election year.
This campaign is a marathon with the election being held in November 2014, not November 2013 and Cassidy has been working the retail end and the fundraising front at a respectable clip.
While Cassidy didn’t speak at the previous state committee meeting, he did address the state GOP’s governing body earlier in 2013 (the Republican State Central Committee meets every three months, so it’s not like Cassidy skipped out on the state convention).
I would hope that a US Senate candidate would have something more productive to do with his time than watch 100+ party activists bicker about bylaw changes or ponder one of the several dozen resolutions this writer has authored over the years.
And I would not begrudge a candidate for spending a weekend resting at home with his family in between road trips to the far corners of the great state of Louisiana for an election that was 400 days away.
One of the biggest obstacles Louisiana Republicans struggle to overcome is their inclination to line up in a circular firing squad, and it seems some are already “locked and loaded” for 2014.
The GOP candidate fields in 1996 and 2002 were badly divided and did not coalesce in time for the second round. Too many times Republican figures stomped out of the primary in a huff and took their support and pouted on home, thus indirectly contributing to Landrieu remaining in her DC residence.
Some of the state’s biggest GOP funders have lined up behind Landrieu and won’t be cutting checks to the Republican alternatives to Cassidy, that is unless she asks them to in order to facilitate a bigger split in the GOP vote.
Yet it’s possible to win without all hands being on deck, after all David Vitter was re-elected to the US Senate sans blessing from Governor Bobby Jindal.
Until someone of proven electability and the capacity to quickly put a million dollars in a federal campaign account steps up instead of just “rumoring up,” Cassidy remains not just the best hope but the only hope for Louisiana Republicans in 2014.