Boustany’s Got A Million Bucks. So What?

Roll Call reported this afternoon that Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) is boasting of a million-dollar war chest in advance of a tough re-election campaign against fellow Rep. Jeff Landry.

Boustany had a release coming out today – we haven’t seen it show up in our e-mail box yet, but it’s expected any minute – which apparently says the following:

“I want to express my deepest appreciation to the people of Louisiana for their continued support and confidence in my leadership,” Boustany will say in a statement to be released later Tuesday.

The Roll Call piece says Boustany will report having raised $474,000 in the 2nd quarter when FEC filings come out later this week, after having raised $235,000 in the 1st quarter. He’s doing extremely well, and though a big chunk of the money he’s raising does come from outside Louisiana there’s no question he’s demonstrating a ton of support within the district with those numbers.

Certainly, a nice war chest is a good thing. What we wonder about, though, is why Boustany would want to brag about this now.

The Roll Call story quotes Landry’s political consultant Brent Littlefield as saying he hasn’t even decided to run. Nobody – NOBODY – believes that. Which is not to say Littlefield’s lying, because it’s not his place to speak for Landry and until Landry makes that announcement that’s the correct thing for him to say. But not only is it expected that Landry will run, but the idea that he could be scared off by a million bucks in Boustany’s pocket is unconvincing to say the least. As a nobody, Landry raised and spent $1.36 million last year, and he didn’t get into the race until the fall of 2009 – meaning he’d be three months away from getting in if you laid this cycle on top of the last one. Boustany might have more money than Landry next fall, but not so much that he’ll be able to bury him with campaign spending at the rate Landry was able to bring it in last time.

After all, the district containing both of the Congressmen basically includes the Lafayette and Lake Charles media markets. That’s a lot less onerous a district from the standpoint of buying TV and radio than the district Landry represents now – last year he had to buy into the New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Houma/Thibodaux and Lafayette markets, which meant he had to buy media in three of the four most expensive markets in the state for a congressional race. This district will make for a cheaper campaign, so beyond a certain point money isn’t as important as it was.

So if making that announcement doesn’t chase Landry off, it’s something of a headscratcher as to why Boustany would make it. After all, here we are in the midst of a debt ceiling crisis and this week we’re in the midst of a retarded mini-scandal whereby a rabid drunk economics professor from Rutgers made a scene both in person and on the internet because she caught Paul Ryan at a pricey restaurant drinking out of a pricey bottle of wine. The Ryan thing is so far beyond ridiculous we didn’t even discuss it here, but the fact that he could be subjected to flak for his choice of beverage indicates the level of protocol members of Congress are subjected to at present. To boast about giant campaign war chests in the midst of that environment opens Boustany up to accusations of being “out of touch” or “establishment” or whatever you want to call it. It seems like it’s counterproductive.

Not to mention the fact that when Landry does decide to make his campaign for the seat public he’s now got a ready-made narrative. Boustany’s got a million bucks he raised on K Street from PAC’s and out-of-state big shots looking for favors, and he doesn’t care about the regular folks in Southwest Louisiana like Landry does.

And the optics stink in another way. Here was Landry on the floor of the House today, making a pretty good speech about the debt ceiling, and meanwhile Boustany’s out there talking about how much money he just raised. It comes off like one guy cares about doing his job and the other guy just wants to get re-elected.

It just doesn’t make a lot of sense. Sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut. This looks like one of those times.



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