The Senate Race Chaos Could Be Coming After All

Look for the rumor mill to spit out today the possible presence of two additional candidates for the U.S. Senate race against Mary Landrieu.

The first of the two would be state Sen. Elbert Guillory, whose name has been thrown around quite a bit in a casual fashion for the race. I’m told that Guillory has a lot of people close to him who are urging him to get into the Senate race, and he’s listening. Guillory’s media presence since switching to the GOP has boosted his political stock quite a bit and he’s being told he has to strike while that iron is hot – and waiting until 2015 to run for Lt. Governor, which has been the plan commonly ascribed to him, means he risks having the iron cool a bit.

Guillory has a fundraiser with Allen West later this month. The word is he’s going to turn around next month and announce a run for the Senate.

The thinking is that if he runs for the Senate and loses, he still builds name recognition that he can capitalize on when he runs for Lt. Governor the next year. I can’t say I agree with that thinking; if you run for something and do badly, it tends to attach a stink to you which saps the confidence of your supporters, and that can be baggage which hurts you down the road.

But if Guillory gets in, he won’t likely be the last candidate in the race. State Rep. Alan Seabaugh’s name has come up as a potential candidate as well.

Seabaugh has the conservative pedigree as an elected official that the race might lack. Unlike Guillory, he’s never been a Democrat. He’s known as a hard-core conservative in the state legislature, perhaps the most outspoken hard-core conservative in the House. Seabaugh was on board with the Fiscal Hawks’ plans to clean up the state’s budget situation, but he abandoned the train when it ran off the tracks into tax increases. He’s a favorite of the state’s conservative activists.

And if Guillory were to get into the race as the third Republican, following Bill Cassidy and Rob Maness, Seabaugh’s entry wouldn’t be met with the exasperation and retribution from the Republicans who are already screaming about Maness being in the race and making it easier for Landrieu to win. Guillory would be the one getting pounded for complicating the race; once Seabaugh got in the reaction would likely be resignation that “well, it’s already a free-for-all, so he might as well run.”

Neither one of these two have any money at this point. They’d be able to get some out of the D.C. conservative crowd which has been considering backing Maness but looking for other options, but only if they demonstrate the ability to raise cash locally.

Seabaugh has some connections in North Louisiana he’d have to make use of. Guillory has a PAC already established.

The questions that will be asked, should either or both get in, is whether their presence in the race would be seen as an indication of Cassidy’s weakness, which Landrieu and the Democrat Party would certainly attempt to paint it as, or a stalking horse for Landrieu (trust me, neither one of these guys like Landrieu enough to be that).

Those questions arise because we don’t have party primaries in federal elections in Louisiana anymore. It was a grave mistake to abandon them, and doing so has lent credence to the claims that when multiple Republicans run against Landrieu it insures her election. If you had a GOP primary next year four months out from a general election, the winner of that primary would have ample time to consolidate support among the losing candidates and raise lots of money to fund a general election campaign.

You won’t have that next year. Therefore what otherwise might be a robust debate and a wide open exchange of ideas within the Republican Party which produces a battle-tested, sharp nominee instead could insure a dead-broke Republican in a five-week runoff campaign against a Mary Landrieu with a fortune to spend.

But if that’s what we’ve got, so be it. Here’s hoping that one or both of the new arrivals is able to make a strong enough case against Landrieu as to knock her support down to a level that even a broke Republican can beat her in the runoff.

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