Elections Notebook, Sept. 13 Edition

In today’s entry: Dardenne racks up endorsements, Lt. Gov. polls tighten, Dem chairman trashes Louisiana and Downer adds an endorsement while getting rebuked for challenging another.

DARDENNE REELS IN SUPPORT: The frontrunner in the Lieutenant Governor’s race, Secretary of State Jay Dardenne, is lining up a good deal of support from the establishment around the state. Dardenne, who has raised over a million bucks in the current election cycle and has better than three-quarters of that number still on hand, picked up endorsements from several Republican Party organizations and Republican Parish Executive Committees.

Among those who endorsed are East Baton Rouge Parish, Orleans Parish and Ascension Parish Republican Parish Executive Committees, the Greater New Orleans Republicans and the Southeastern Louisiana University College Republicans.

 “I’m very proud to receive these endorsements.  This speaks to my broad based support among Republican activists,” said Dardenne.

Dardenne’s main problem in shoring up Republican support has come from some Tea Party groups, and the Baton Rouge-based Tea Party of Louisiana – which has enthusiastically backed state GOP chair Roger Villere – in particular. Word is, however, that Tea Party groups elsewhere in Louisiana seem more amenable to the Secretary of State as their candidate. None have crystallized that support to the level of an endorsement, however. 

TIGHTENING POLLS ON LT. GOV. RACE: Speaking of the Tea Party of Louisiana, that organization put out a release over the weekend including a poll showing the Lieutenant Governor’s race a little tighter than previous polls and the race being a tremendously fluid one…

Jay Dardenne (R) 16%
Sammy Kershaw (R) 13%
Caroline Fayard (D) 11%
Roger Villere (R) 9%
Kevin Davis (R) 5%
Butch Gautreaux (D) 4%
Other/Undecided 42%

The biggest news in the newest poll, while the TPoL release touts Villere’s growth, seems to be the advancement of Caroline Fayard as the main Democrat threat in the race. Fayard, a 32-year old attorney and the daughter of famed trial lawyer Calvin Fayard, would seem to boast a curriculum vitae tailor-made for general election disaster in a conservative state…

“Caroline Fayard is 32 years old and a lifelong Democrat. She worked at both the White House and Congress before taking a position at Goldman Sachs. She later worked at the Washington-based firm of Williams and Connolly before returning to government service, and to Louisiana, to work as a law clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Stanwood R. Duval Jr. of the Eastern District of Louisiana. Caroline was later appointed to the faculty of College of Law at Loyola University New Orleans and served there until 2009 when she returned to private practice. Caroline currently serves as Vice President on the Board of Louisiana Appleseed, a non-profit organization that promotes access to justice. “

That said, Fayard seems to be picking up support in the African-American community in New Orleans and elsewhere, and next to Dardenne she seems to be making the largest waves on the fundraising trail. She’s also running a :30 spot in selected places around the state…

Undoubtedly somebody is going to connect that spot to something relatively similar…

TIM KAINE’S CHARM INITIATIVE: Whether it’s frustration kicking in or a refusal to acknowledge the national Democrat message doesn’t work in Louisiana, Democrat National Committee chair Tim Kaine caused a bit of a stir last week when on a Wednesday night appearance with John Stewart of the Daily Show he took a shot at Louisiana

But Kaine missed an opportunity to promote the Louisiana Senate candidacy of Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville. After Kaine recounted what he held to be the far-out ideas being espoused by some Republican candidates, Stewart responded, “Right, so how can you not be crushing these people? You’ve got guys like David Vitter …”

But, before Stewart could finish his thought, Kaine threw up his hands, “Now, that’s a tough one. I don’t know why. Louisiana seems real forgiving.”

Kaine neglected to plug Charlie Melancon, his party’s candidate, in the race against Vitter. He also failed to acknowledge that Democrat anti-domestic energy policies like new oil and gas taxes or Obama’s offshore drilling moratoria, or Cap and Trade, are absolute poison for his party in Louisiana. And he failed to note that the Louisiana Democrat Party, which was forgiven for over a century despite a legacy of institutionalized racism, Third World corruption and class envy as economic development before finally being stripped of its dominant position in state politics in the 1990’s, is severely lacking in quality candidates for major offices at present (as Melancon’s candidacy seems to indicate).

We’re just “real forgiving,” is the explanation.

DOWNER GETS ONE ENDORSEMENT, GETS DRILLED ON ANOTHER: Over the weekend the Alliance For Good Government completed its slate of endorsements with a choice to back Hunt Downer for the 3rd District congressional seat, putting Downer alongside David Vitter, Joseph Cao and Kevin Davis. The Alliance’s endorsement is a welcome development for a campaign which has had a tough time of it ever since running afoul of several Tea Party groups in mid-August by failing to show up for a debate.

But while picking up that endorsement, Downer generated a fresh round of bad press from his trashing of several Republican party Parish Executive Committees for endorsing his opponent Jeff Landry. Specifically, Downer was blasted by Assumption Parish party chair Collette Vizier Smith…

Dear Mr. Downer:
I am rather perplexed that you would criticize the endorsement of the Assumption PEC due to the fact that it only has one member.  Your official campaign’s quote, “It must have been a pretty tense argument for the one member of the St. James and Assumption Parish PEC’s over who to endorse.”
Mr. Downer, I can assure you that I struggled terribly with this endorsement, so, in a fashion, it was a pretty tense argument. However, I am not merely perplexed at your criticism of the size of the Assumption PEC, I am perplexed that you were actually surprised that your opponent was endorsed when your campaign never contacted me seeking an endorsement.  It has been my experience to be contacted by Republican candidates looking for support in Assumption Parish.  This has been the case since my involvement in party politics began over ten years ago, and I can assure you that I have been contacted by many candidates seeking office on both the federal and state levels. Therefore, I am not that difficult to reach.
My endorsement of Mr. Landry was based on many factors, but one of the factors in my decision that played favorably for Mr. Landry was the fact that Mr. Landry himself contacted me personally whereas your campaign never did.
Am I to assume that every Republican candidate actually wants the endorsement of the Assumption PEC? Considering that Republicans are only about ten percent of the parish’s registered voters, one can easily reason that a Republican candidate might forego the parish party endorsement in the closed primary, hoping to fare better with Democrats in the general election.  Furthermore, since I am the PEC’s only member, and with the Assumption PEC’s endorsement being essentially my endorsement, perhaps, given my controversial past positions, especially in the 3rd Congressional District, a candidate might not even want my endorsement.
In closing, Mr. Downer, ask and you shall receive.  Don’t blame Mr. Landry’s campaign for doing the homework that your campaign should have done.  I can not give you something you want if I do not even know that you want it.
Collette Vizier Smith
Republican Party of Assumption Parish

Generally speaking, things have quieted down in the 3rd District race since last week’s fireworks, with the rumor mill spitting out that Downer himself had chosen to reel in some of his campaign’s negative tactics and the Landry campaign making a strategic decision to begin veering toward the general election given a 14-point lead. Both camps are also in fundraising mode this week. 



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