Vitter Moves To Deflect Speculation About Competing GOP Fundraising Groups

For the last week, discussion has continued in some quarters about the emergence of what was styled as a “Victory Fund” set up by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in an effort to elect more Republicans to statewide and legislative offices in this fall’s campaign cycle.

Jindal’s announcement that the Victory Fund was getting started went out on Wednesday. He boasted of a $700,000 initial funding for the program and announced a goal of $2 million toward electing more “conservative reformers” to the Legislature in the current cycle…

Louisiana has come a long way toward our goal of being the best place in the world to raise a family, get a great education, and pursue a rewarding career – but there is still much work to be done – and I need your help.

It is critically important for Louisiana’s future that we elect more conservative reformers to the State House and State Senate who will work with us to streamline government, keep taxes low, and produce the economic conditions that will create jobs for our people.

To achieve these goals I’ve asked the LA GOP to establish a statewide Victory Fund specifically for electing members of the state Legislature.  Unlike other efforts, the LA GOP’s Victory Fund can coordinate directly with targeted campaigns to spread our conservative message and get-out-the-vote for our targeted candidates to win elections.  Already, we’ve raised $700,000 for this initiative and with your help we will reach our target of $2 million to be put toward electing conservative state representatives and state senators this fall.

Immediately after Jindal’s announcement, the chattering classes began mulling the possibility that the Victory Fund would become a competitor to the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority, a political action committee started by Jindal’s chief rival for status as the state’s top Republican influence – namely, Sen. David Vitter. With Vitter and Jindal having had something of a rivalry, at least in the eyes of those chatterers, the initiation of the Victory Fund would thus signal Jindal’s upping the ante in this rivalry.

As narratives go, this one isn’t impossible to maintain. There was, of course, Jindal’s choice not to make an endorsement of Vitter’s re-election last year, which at the time was considered a slight to Vitter and ultimately appeared to have been a mistake given the latter’s crushing of Charlie Melancon in that election without the endorsement. Because of that circumstance it made news when Vitter endorsed Jindal at the end of June – even our own coverage of that fact was colored by the Vitter-vs.-Jindal-for-state-party-supremacy meme.

After all, it’s a good story to say that the state GOP, having largely vanquished the Louisiana Democrat Party, is now splitting into rival camps. And to an extent there might be some truth to that formulation; there are Vitter Republicans, Jindal Republicans and “old-line” Republicans in the state, and the various actors on our political stage generally align with no more than one of those camps.

That said, this rivalry isn’t exactly the Hatfields and McCoys. Consider today’s reaction from Vitter to the Victory Fund’s creation…

Great news in our fight for a bolder, more conservative Louisiana state government.

Bobby Jindal has pledged to raise significant funds through the Louisiana Republican Party to elect more conservatives to the Legislature. This is really important for two reasons.

First, the focus on true conservatives in Louisiana is an exciting development. I’m hopeful it signals a bolder, more engaged Bobby already.

And second, this greatly increases the overall push to elect more strong conservatives to the Legislature this fall, building on our long-standing LCRM campaign plans.

Yesterday, I sent a personal note to Bobby with a $10,000 contribution to this new effort from my campaign fund.

And I’ll be sure LCRM coordinates with these Republican Party efforts to maximize our collective impact.

Please be involved and supportive in any way you can, whether through this new effort, LCRM, individual legislative campaigns, or all of the above.

As I stressed a few weeks ago, our Louisiana elections this fall really are crucially important. Thanks.

–David

Yes, Vitter threw out the “bolder, more engaged” line, and yes, that’s something of a dig at Jindal. And yes, the Vitter camp, which has identified to a larger degree than other factions with the Tea Party movement, has at times been critical of Jindal on fiscal matters – perhaps the best example being the divergent view from the Governor Vitter, House Speaker Jim Tucker and State Treasurer John Kennedy offered on the Charity Hospital rebuild in early June.

But while Vitter and Jindal might be competing for the affections of conservatives as the pre-eminent figure in state politics, rivals don’t often give each other $10,000.

The fact is, Jindal’s Victory Fund operates through the state party. Think of it as money going through the RNC, in a national political analogy. And the LCRM, in that analogy, would be more along the lines of Karl Rove’s American Crossroads or Freedomworks. It’s an independent organization which does things according to a bit different structure.

Basically, the two groups are separate pots of money which will likely fund the same candidates.

Is there a chance they might fund different candidates? Yes. Is it going to happen often? No.

I was told by people on both sides of this “divide” that the two groups are both going to attempt to stay out of Republican-vs.-Republican fights where possible. Of course, at some point among 144 legislative races there will likely be a contest in which two Republicans are competing against one Democrat, and in such a case it’s possible the Victory Fund and LCRM could fall on different sides in a primary. Should that happen, there will undoubtedly be lots of attention paid to the race as a “test” of Jindal’s strength vs. Vitter’s.

But runoff elections have ways of eliminating those issues, because when two Republicans and a Democrat compete in a jungle primary the most common result is a Republican and a Democrat squaring off in the general election.

And that would indicate that functionally, while media wags looking for something to talk about will make some hay out of this so-called conflict, the real news story is that Republican candidates will have more sources of campaign funds this year than they’ve had in the past. And it would appear those candidates will also have more sources of campaign funds than will the state’s Democrats – which is the most important point as the election cycle begins.

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