Chet Traylor’s Pre-Concession Speech

The quirky train wreck which has been Chet Traylor’s bid to upset David Vitter in Louisiana’s GOP Senate primary appears to be settling into a smoking hulk. Proof of that comes in a piece by Sam Hanna of the Ouachita Citizen, who has been Traylor’s leading cheerleader among Louisiana media types, today.

Hanna delivers a fine eulogy of Traylor’s campaign two days before Election Day. It’s particularly good stuff when it begins calling out by name several prominent Louisiana Republicans Hanna accuses of welching on promises of support for Traylor.

Traylor’s candidacy was considered a long-shot from the get go. Remember, Traylor qualified late in the day on the last day of qualifying. He hadn’t raised a dime and had no organization to speak of on which to run a campaign for state-wide public office. Had Traylor gotten into the race a year ago, which he toyed with doing, the Senate race would have played out far differently. Mark my word.

Yet, there were signs that Traylor’s bid to unseat Vitter could get off the ground. After all, Traylor qualified in light of pledges of support from Republican businessmen who feared the scandal-plagued Vitter would or will encounter more charges of personal wrongdoing. Supposedly, revelations of more wrongdoing on behalf of Vitter could hand his Senate seat to Melancon. Supposedly.

Hanna’s list of supposed bait-and-switchers includes former Jefferson Parish D.A. John Mamoulides, New Orleans millionaire and serial candidate John Georges, former Public Service Commissioner Jay Blossman and a “host of business leaders from Acadiana.” He praises Traylor’s campaign manager Lev Dawson of Delhi and “Republican” businessman Wayne Elmore (click here to see a list of campaign donations from Elmore and his family and judge for yourself how “Republican” he is) for sticking with their man. And then he closes with this…

It goes without saying that Traylor’s fundraising efforts were severely hampered once a lawsuit against Traylor filed by the sons of Traylor’s late wife surfaced in the media. Though it’s a private matter that should be dealt with privately, the lawsuit was news because of Traylor’s position as a candidate for public office. Like it or not, that’s the way it is.

Though his campaign for the Senate won’t work out as he had hoped, Traylor gave it his all. That wasn’t enough, but Traylor won’t be the last candidate for public office whose campaign never got under way in earnest because of a chain of events he could not control.

And Traylor won’t be the last candidate for public office who was lied to, either.

Perhaps what Hanna says is true, that Traylor’s private disputes with the Ellingtons should remain private. And perhaps Traylor should have considered those things before attempting to run for the Senate. Particularly given that the entire raison d’etre of his campaign was Vitter’s personal failings; to make that case it seems clear that one’s own kitchen should be clean. After all, if Traylor’s disputes and romantic engagements are a “private matter,” why aren’t Vitter’s murky dalliances? And given this logical difficulty, one wonders where the idea comes from that if Traylor had a year to run against Vitter the stories of his homewrecking would be any less damaging to either his fundraising efforts or attempts at building support.

Rather than tarring Mamoulides, Georges and Blossman as liars, perhaps Hanna should consider they came to the same conclusion we at the Hayride did about Traylor when the stories of his conduct became known – that he’s no better than Vitter on the question he alleges makes the Senator unfit for continued office.

No one should begrudge a candidate wishing to offer a primary challenge to Sen. Vitter. In fact, generally speaking the more candidates running, the better the election. But Traylor’s candidacy wasn’t an example of “giving it his all” – it was a last-minute, laughable effort which was poorly thought out and lacking in any substantive basis. Traylor never once offered a legitimate policy difference with Vitter throughout his abortive candidacy, and that’s very telling.

After Saturday, Democrat Charlie Melancon is going to have to run against Vitter on his own, without the benefit of stalking horses. It would be nice if a substantive campaign dealing with the real questions of the day would ensue.

Unlikely, but nice. One can always hope.

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