Elections Notebook, July 14 Edition

As Johnny Carson used to say – some “wild, weird stuff” is going on.

SANGISETTY RELEASES BIRTH CERTIFICATE: Louisiana 3rd District Democrat congressional candidate Ravi Sangisetty seems like a proactive guy. One might argue he’s a bit too proactive.

Sangisetty sent out a release today containing a copy of his birth certificate, without any explanation for why the campaign would put it out.

DOWNER CLAIMS JEFFERSON PARISH ENDORSEMENTS: A release today by 3rd District Republican candidate Hunt Downer boasts that he has the support of the GOP establishment in Jefferson Parish.

Downer excited the crowd several times to thunderous applause as he declared “our Constitution is under attack and I’m ready to fight back. Send me to Washington and I’ll defend the American Dream for my granddaughter and your kids.”

The group consisted of the Jefferson Parish Republican Executive Committee, the Jefferson Parish Republican State Central Committee, and Jefferson Parish Republican elected officials.

“I am honored to have this group’s endorsement going into the Republican Primary on August 28th. We must not rest until the failed liberal policies of the Obama administration are repealed. I look forward to fighting for our people and our Constitution as a Congressman,” Downer said.

Downer recently announced a blistering fundraising pace of nearly $8,000 a day since he entered the race in late May. Downer is a retired Major General of the Army and former Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives.

Most of Jefferson is in Steve Scalise’s 1st District, with some of it in Joseph Cao’s 2nd District. The part of Jefferson in the 3rd is the coastal areas, largely including Grand Isle and Lafitte.

Jeff Landry, the other major Republican candidate in the race, has claimed the endorsement of several national conservative groups – including the Family Research Council and Americans For Prosperity.

MELANCON CONFIRMED IN VANCOUVER: The David Vitter campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee are both pushing the Charlie Melancon/trial lawyer convention angle as hard as they can this week, and that push got a bit more pronounced when after Melancon stonewalled the question of whether he did in fact make the trip to Vancouver yesterday the NRSC found video of him up there…

David Catanese’s POLITICO piece yesterday on the topic set the scene nicely:

Ten top-tier Democratic Senate candidates jet to Canada over the weekend for a fundraising junket with trial attorneys.

No, it’s not the setup to a punch line.

It’s what actually occurred this past Sunday, when a batch of Democratic contenders ventured to Vancouver for a rare group fundraiser, hosted by the Committee for a Better Future, also known as the political action committee for the world’s largest trial bar.

Republicans could hardly contain their glee. The optics of a foreign trip to hobnob with attorneys from the American Association for Justice offered a made-to-order line of attack that they deployed with ease, placing a host of campaigns in battleground contests on the defensive.

Of the 12 Senate candidates listed on the fundraiser’s contribution form, only two – Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and Missouri Democrat Robin Carnahan – told POLITICO they did not attend the event.

For his part, Melancon said his attendance at the event was “appropriate…”

…with the all the contributions coming legally from Americans, in what he portrayed as a contrast to Vitter, who he said “doesn’t believe he has to play by the rules.” Melancon said he was referring to $33,000 in campaign contributions California-based U.S. Dry Cleaning Corp. executives gave to Vitter last summer. One of the donors said he was reimbursed for his $4,800 in contributions by his employer, which would be a violation of federal campaign finance law.

While that might have been a decent riposte, the Democrat probably wasn’t helped by American Association of Justice spokesman Ray Di Lorenzi – who offered up a quote which would seem to be more like a payload of napalm than a bucket of cold water on the controversy…

“Groups like the Chamber (of Commerce) have pledged millions of dollars to return to the days when corporations could operate recklessly with absolutely no accountability,” De Lorenzi said. “The American people have outright rejected that approach. Americans simply want elected officials to protect their interests, not the wallets of corporations like BP or Wall Street banks.”

Vitter’s campaign is on this one like Chuck Schumer to a microphone, of course. Campaign spokesman Luke Bolar let Melancon have it.

“At this very same trial lawyer bash in Canada that Charlie Melancon and Harry Reid attended to raise campaign cash, there were seminars on how trial lawyers could get a large slice of the oil disaster victims’ money,” Bolar said.  “That’s outrageous–particularly for a candidate who’s been trying to run on the oil spill because his votes on everything else are so horrible.”

The Vancouver trip looks like an especially grievous mistake on Melancon’s part since the state’s establishment media, including Gambit’s Clancy DuBos, seem intent on fanning the Brett Furer furor. So far, polls don’t seem to indicate that the story of the former Vitter aide’s legal issues and problematic behavior has much traction with the public, but in the absence of other news it might have done the incumbent some damage. That’s less likely when the Congressman gives fuel to the narrative that he’s bought and paid for by trial lawyers.

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