It was a busy day for the Billy Nungesser campaign today.
The Plaquemines Parish President, who’s still fighting floodwaters in his parish thanks to Tropical Storm Lee, debuted a new TV spot during the LSU-Oregon game Saturday night touting his fighting spirit and emphasis on economic growth. The ad, dubbed “Never Run Away,” talks about his efforts during last year’s BP spill and promises to fight for jobs statewide should he gain the Lieutenant Governor’s position…
Then today, Nungesser qualified for this fall’s election for Lt. Governor, as did incumbent Jay Dardenne. In doing so, the challenger let loose a few arrows the incumbent’s way in a statement…
“This year, we have an opportunity to elect a Lt. Governor that is truly passionate about this job and our state,” he said. “We need someone in this office who can and will do everything possible to be a true voice for Louisiana and that is why I am running. I’m a proven leader that has led the people I represent through four hurricanes and the BP Oil Spill. I am experienced, I am tested and I am ready to go to work for all of Louisiana.
“There are clear differences between myself and my opponent. Just because you have an ‘R’ behind your name does not make you a true conservative, as my opponent has proven time and time again. There is a clear choice between the two of us and his record speaks for itself. From voting to raise taxes to voting against prohibiting government funded abortion, he does not represent the best Louisiana can do.”
Nungesser’s swipes at Dardenne weren’t limited to his qualifying statement. He also directly responded to shots the Dardenne campaign had leveled at him earlier in the campaign, questioning campaign donations he’d made to California senator Barbara Boxer, Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu, New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu and Louisiana senatorial candidate Charlie Melancon when the latter was running against incumbent David Vitter. Vitter endorsed Nungesser over Dardenne last week.
In a letter e-mailed to supporters, Nungesser said those donations were made by way of getting things done on coastal restoration…
I decided to run for Lt. Governor because we need to put an end to partisan bickering and get to work finding real solutions to our state’s challenges. Reaching across party lines to fight for Louisiana’s future doesn’t mean sacrificing my conservative principles, regardless of how much Jay Dardenne tries to twist the facts about a few contributions I personally made to Democrats in the past.
I grew up Republican, learning politics from my father, who served our party as State Chairman and our state as Chief of Staff to Republican Governor David Treen. The donations are a small part of the longer history of financial support to our party and our candidates. They were made when asked because they gave me another opportunity to advocate for funding of levees and other infrastructure projects important to our state before congressional leaders who with appropriations authority.
I don’t need to explain to anyone in Louisiana how important flood protection is. Look at pictures from this past weekend and Tropical Storm Lee. Without the money appropriated by Congress – we would not have gotten part of the funding we need to protect our families and our coastline.
Maybe it was not the best decision for my political career, but it was the best decision for Louisiana and it was the right decision. My opponent can’t understand that because he is only worried about his political career. I will NEVER put my political career in front of doing what is best and right for Louisiana and its people.
Political contributions don’t mean I’m a liberal when my record of creating jobs, controlling spending and returning over $15 million to the taxpayers prove I am a conservative, who has delivered real results. I’m pro-life and pro-gun and I’ve been the loudest voice standing up to the Obama Administration and other powerful interests in fighting for our oil industry, our seafood industry, our coastline and all of Louisiana.
It is disappointing that Jay has to resort to negative attacks. He must be ashamed to run on his record of increased spending and raising taxes. Despite his conservative claims, he voted for one of the most liberal tax increases in our state’s history when he led the effort to pass the Stelly Plan. And his anti-life record speaks for itself. Louisiana deserve better, and I hope I can earn your support based on my record of proven results.
As of press time, the Dardenne campaign hadn’t responded to Nungesser’s missive, though one comeback might be that if Nungesser thought it was necessary to bribe Democrats with campaign contributions to get things done, perhaps that means he’s too ready to do things the “old” way in Louisiana, and while resourcefulness is to be valued in a politician the Edwin Edwards “any which way you can” method of getting things done is much less attractive to a state attempting to rebuild from the damage that tradition did to Louisiana’s business climate than it used to be.
Such a comeback might also make mention of the federal probe of hurricane recovery contracts signed by Nungesser following Katrina. That probe arose from a legislative auditor’s report criticizing the fact those contracts were let without approval of the Plaquemines Parish council. Put together, the picture presented might be that while Nungesser is a passionate guy who gets things done, he also tramples over the rulebook in doing so.
Nungesser’s likely response would be that the federal probe is a joke which has as much to do with politics as it does with anything else, that he was within rights to let those contracts since Plaquemines was under an emergency declaration when they were agreed upon and that he didn’t personally benefit from any of them.
In any event, the tone and narrative of the Lt. Governor’s race, which appears to be the marquee contest of this year’s cycle, is beginning to solidify. It’s something of a referendum on Nungesser – not so much Billy personally, but of his style compared to that of the more understated Dardenne.
And so far, with qualifying continuing until Thursday, only Nungesser and Dardenne have entered the race. In fact, outside of that duo and the Tom Schedler/Jim Tucker battle shaping up in the Secretary of State race, there are no challengers of note for any of the statewide offices.
Yes, Gov. Bobby Jindal has three challengers so far. None of them are worthy of much mention, though. One is Lenny Bollingham, a network administrator at LSU and amateur filmmaker, another is Bob Lang of Natchitoches, who ran for the Senate last year and received 5,734 votes, and the third is Ron Ceasar, a tax accountant from Opelousas who attempted a recall of Jindal last year and collected a grand total of 100 signatures.
Jindal’s reported Democrat challenger, schoolteacher Tara Hollis, had not qualified as of press time.