While tomorrow night looks to be a terrific night for Republicans both across Louisiana and nationally, we’re calling the 2nd District race for Cedric Richmond in a close one.
That’s a shame, for lots of reasons. You can try any of these on for size:
First, it’s not like the GOP needs LA-2 for a majority. Gallup’s final numbers on the generic ballot are devastating for the Democrats, and though they talk about a switch of 60 seats as a floor, the real result is likely to be more like 80-90. In other words, get used to Speaker Boehner, because as of tomorrow night that’s what will be set in stone for the next Congress.
So New Orleans, which still could use some help from the federal government in Katrina recovery, coastal restoration and lots of other things Cao has made priorities of, is going to be represented by somebody who’s a member of a shrinking minority and who will have zero stroke in DC.
Second, it’s entirely possible that LA-2 will go from being represented by a man of unquestioned integrity to something else. Richmond’s bumpy record of non-profit shenanigans, barroom fisticuffs, electoral fraud and even possibly filing false police reports is a colossal red flag that when he’s given access to the honey pot that is a seat in Congress, full-on embarrassment and scandal for the district is virtually assured.
Third, Cao has made constituent services a priority as a congressman and his staff does an outstanding job with that important aspect of governance. With Richmond, that’s likely to largely go out the window. Richmond’s cronies, who will in all likelihood go with him to Washington, will look upon their new status as a great entrepreneurial opportunity rather than a chance to serve their fellow man. This last is speculation on our part, but Richmond’s gang have the personal background to give us confidence we’re on target.
There are other reasons why it’s a bad thing for Richmond to beat Cao. But it’s going to happen, we think. Two events over the past two weeks have convinced us that Cao will lose.
The first, we neglected to discuss here on the Hayride at the time. It came from a POLITICO article which noted that “Cao could go either way on Speaker vote.” Asked whether he would vote along with the rest of the Republicans in the House, he committed a pretty stunning gaffe…
“I have not heard of their platforms,” Cao said, according to the New Orleans Times Picayune. “I have not read what they’re looking for with respect to the country. So I will weigh those names, if those are the two names, and I will weigh them equally like I weigh other issues.”
This was stupid on Cao’s part on both sides of the equation. It was stupid because it unnecessarily irritated conservatives and Republicans who are working so hard to get him re-elected – as we had noted on the Hayride, the vote for Boehner and against Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker all by itself makes Cao attractive despite his two years of straddling fences in an effort to stay on the good graces of the district’s heavily Democrat electorate.
So when he says he’s not sure he’d vote for Boehner, he’s cutting the legs out from the main reason Republicans or conservatives would have to put him in Congress. That dampens enthusiasm. In fact, it gives the less-pragmatic of the conservative ideologues in his district all the ammo they need to pull the lever for Anthony Marquize, the third-party candidate who is running to Cao’s right with no resources and no chance to win. And Cao needs every single vote he’s going to lose to Marquize.
But worse, weaseling out of choosing between Pelosi and Boehner doesn’t benefit Cao with Democrats. First, they’re not going to actually believe he’s voting for Pelosi. They might even be insulted by the suggestion, as it essentially tells them he thinks they’re gullible enough to believe anything. And second, if I’m a Democrat and I realize that the Republicans are getting a majority, and I have to have Cao as my Congressman, the last thing I want is for him to vote for Pelosi. I’d rather have him vote for Boehner and stay in good graces with the leadership so he can bring goodies home to the district.
That was a dumb move. Cao might have survived it. But it’s hard to imagine him surviving the injury done to him by the attention-grabbing Tony Perkins at the Family Resource Council over the weekend.
FRC, amazingly, blasted out a radio ad attacking Cao on WRNO-FM – “Rush Radio,” the unabashedly conservative station carrying Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Mark Levin, starting on Friday. The ad goes after Cao on the gay rights issue, suggesting that his support of gay rights limits religious freedom in America.
Naturally, this made news over the weekend and the Times-Picayune picked up the story Saturday. Perkins, a former Louisiana state legislator from Baton Rouge who now runs the FRC in Washington, was only so happy to talk to the paper – and he offered up some pretty inexplicable quotes…
Cao’s “record is dismal on our issues,” Tony Perkins, the former Louisiana legislator who heads the Washington-based FRC, said Saturday.
“He’s vulnerable,” Perkins said of Cao’s prospects for a second term. Perkins said he was keeping a close eye on the campaign to determine whether to ramp up the advertising effort before Tuesday.
But get this…
Perkins said Richmond is also unacceptable to the FRC. “I know Cedric. I served in the Legislature with him,” Perkins said. “He’ll be no better.”
OK, so if you’re not actually going to move the chains by attacking Cao, then why on earth would you waste your money on the ad campaign?
As Michael Caine said in The Dark Knight, some men just want to watch the world burn. Maybe Perkins is one of those men. Or maybe he’s just a dunce who can’t understand why having a Republican who will contribute to a Republican leadership would do more for “our issues” than moving the District into the enemy camp with a Democrat he admits is no better.
The prediction here? Cao will lose to Richmond, and it will be very close. In fact, don’t be surprised if the votes Marquize gets at Cao’s expense ultimately cost him the race.
And don’t be surprised if Perkins comes under a great deal of backlash from Republicans around Louisiana as a result. As he should. He will have contributed to ruining what would otherwise be a perfect night for the GOP in the Sportsman’s Paradise.