When it seems like even Democrats the Louisiana Republican Party isn’t crazy about adding are switching (Walker Hines, Noble Ellington and John Alario being stellar examples), it shouldn’t be a major surprise that another prominent Louisiana Dem is rumored to be considering a flip.
If this one happens, it will be a devastating blow to an embattled party which is on a fast boat to the wilderness.
Specifically, the rumor mill is swirling around Buddy Caldwell, the state’s Attorney General and the first Democrat to sign on to the multi-state Obamacare lawsuit. New Orleans Gambit reports…
“The rumors are getting hot and heavy that [Attorney General Buddy] Caldwell is getting ready to switch parties,” says one longtime Democratic operative. “Then again, there has also been talk about him running for governor if no one qualifies against Jindal. He’s paranoid right now that there’s someone out there, some opposition. Caldwell is perfectly representative of what Democrats are going through right now.”
Adding fuel to the speculation is the lawsuit Caldwell filed on Jindal’s behalf last year challenging President Barack Obama’s Democratic-backed health care law.When contacted by Gambit on the possibility of switching parties, Caldwell offered “no comment.”
“Things are dicey right now,” the operative adds. “What happens if Caldwell does switch and [U.S. Sen.] Mary [Landrieu] decides not to run for re-election? Where are we at then? There will be no strong elected (statewide) personality. It’s all dying on the vine.”
The “no comment” response is pretty telling. Caldwell is the only Democrat statewide elected official in Baton Rouge; the rest are Republicans and there doesn’t appear to be a Democrat capable of beating any of them in a head-to-head matchup at this time.
Caldwell’s record as a conservative is questionable. He earned some credit for his Obamacare participation, but many in the oil and gas industry have been less than enthused by his lack of interest in pursuing legal action to stop the EPA from attempting to usurp state regulatory power over hydraulic fracturing and other issues and his silence on the Obama administration’s offshore drilling moratorium. Caldwell has also been somewhat quiet on investigating wrongdoing at ACORN’s New Orleans headquarters after a well-publicized raid in 2009; speculation has it that his party affiliation might have played a role in tamping down interest in getting to the bottom of that cesspool, though there isn’t a lot of evidence behind it.
On the other hand, Caldwell had some Republican support when he was elected in 2007 over Royal Alexander in a runoff election (scandal-plagued incumbent Charles Foti ran third that year). His reputation as a conservative Democrat would make him no less a stretch than other Democrats who have flipped to the GOP.
As a potential gubernatorial candidate Caldwell would seem to be somewhat problematic; his popularity ratings are similar to those of Gov. Bobby Jindal, indicating he might be able to make a race – but Jindal’s $12 million war chest would appear far too much for Caldwell to match. Caldwell’s most recent campaign finance report, dated in February of last year, claimed some $196,000 in cash on hand.
Caldwell’s office is one of two final strongholds the Democrats are clinging to in Baton Rouge; the other being control of the state Senate. The latter is in grave danger at present, as the current count of 19 Democrats, 19 Republicans and one independent is on the verge of flipping to a 20-18 GOP advantage if Senate District 26, an open seat previously held by Democrat Nick Gautreaux (who resigned in order to take over as the head of Louisiana’s Department of Motor Vehicles), is won by a Republican in a special election next month. Jonathan Perry, a Republican state representative from Kaplan who doubles as an up-and-coming stand-up comic, will be taking on well-financed Rayne Democrat police juror Nathan Granger in a race likely to attract considerable attention around the state. The Democrats are reportedly throwing considerable resources behind Granger and the race is expected to get ugly.