So apparently my advice for one potential candidate to make a try for the Sixth Congressional District did not elicit an immediate response from him for pursuit of that hypothetical endeavor. Instead, somebody else jumped in although the move was heavily telegraphed by the same dynamic that steadily is pushing Sen. Mary Landrieu into a corner.
State Sen. Rick Ward, having lived barely any life as a Republican, announced for the post being surrendered by Landrieu’s major declared opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy. A couple of weeks ago Ward switched his Democrat affiliation in what has turned out to be a prelude to his seeking higher office.
Ward said in that office the state needs a “young conservative,” and said despite his service in the Legislature to date as a Democrat he met that definition. Well, in reality he has trouble on that account, according to his voting record compiled by the Louisiana Legislature Log. This weighted index assesses legislator voting on a continuum of liberal/populist to conservative/reform, where the higher the score, the more conservative/reform is the record.
In 2012, Ward ended with a score of 65, which put him slightly below the GOP chamber average for the session. But in 2013, his score dipped to 30, which not only was below the Republican chamber average, it also was below the entire chamber average and even below the Democrats’ average. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of his presumed conservatism or reform credentials, especially as his voting this year slid him below the GOP and chamber averages over his two-year career, and more into liberal/populist territory than the opposite with his average of 47.5.
The switch happened not so much because he has demonstrated genuinely conservative views, but because the Democrat label for any national office in the state outside of a swath along the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Baton Rouge is toxic. The increasing radioactivity of the label vividly glows in the poll numbers concerning the consummate mistress of a liberal wolf in conservative sheep’s clothing, Landrieu.
Impartial parsing of these have yet to show any good news for Landrieu this cycle, but the latest batch of data, from Magellan Strategies, are the least encouraging to date. The poll of self-identified likely voters shows a significant preference to voting for a generic Republican over a generic Democrat and that a “new person” is preferred to Landrieu. When after these responses asking a series of questions factually but negatively contrasting her performance and issue preferences, refusal to reelect jumped from about 50 to 60 percent – demonstrating that there’s room for the Cassidy and other campaigns to peel even more support from her.
Democrat operatives tried to impugn the effort by deriding it as a “push poll” – despite the fact that the questions about issues and performance temporally were asked after the one about reelection. That was their sole and wanting response to the fact that only 40 percent of the demographically-representative sample declared they likely would reelect her. Almost no one at this juncture in a campaign with these numbers ever wins reelection, especially when that reelect number is 10 points below those asserting they are unlikely to reelect.
Of course, Ward didn’t vote for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) or other things on which Cassidy easily can ding Landrieu. But those are so thoroughly owned by Democrats and infused into their label that anybody without much of a record and/or recorded actions in those areas will get stuck with it if they stick with that label. Hence Ward’s strategic decision to switch.
Yet with plenty of competition expected for the Sixth District job from conservatives, a label alone isn’t going to do it for Ward. Putting his money where his mouth is will be a necessary step for him to be able to win this contest. He’ll need a much different voting record in the Legislature in 2014, even more conservative/reform than that of his 2012, if he has any chance to replace Cassidy.