WILFONG: Cassidy’s Latest Finance Report Raises Serious Questions

It has become painfully apparent that the Bill Cassidy for Senate Campaign, now in its sixth month, has lost steam. Republican insiders from around the state had never bought into the idea projected by the campaign that Cassidy would be the undisputed Republican nominee to take on Mary Landrieu. The recent third quarter campaign earnings only confirm what we’ve known all along; Cassidy may not be the party’s best shot at defeating Landrieu.

Earlier this week, Politico leaked a dismal earnings report for the Cassidy campaign. Only $690k had been raised in the third quarter, which is only a little better than half of the $1.2 million the campaign raised in its first quarter (Q2). But most importantly, and most alarming, is that the campaign appears to have spent over $500,000 in the last few months with little to show for it. At the end of Q2, Cassidy reported $3.2 million cash on hand. Now, he claims to only have $3.4 million – a net of a paltry $200k. At that rate he will have barely $4 million come election time.

Mary Landrieu raised a very solid $1.3 million in the third quarter, putting her war chest at nearly $6 million – nearly TWICE what Cassidy has on hand. And with Mary possibly being the one swing seat the DNC must preserve to hold the Senate, we can expect tens-of-millions to pour in before our isolated December 6, 2014 Louisiana runoff.

It’s time for Republicans to have a serious discussion about whether Cassidy should be the party standard bearer. Clearly, Bill Cassidy doesn’t connect with Louisiana conservatives. He has followed the unpopular establishment leadership on every single continuing resolution and every single increase of the debt ceiling. His vote to support Hate Crime legislation has alienated the allimportant christian right.

Incredibly, it was recently reported that Cassidy donated $500 to Landrieu in 2002; a year in which Landrieu was forced into a runoff before retaining her seat with a victory over former Elections Commissioner Suzie Haik Terrell. The Landrieu campaign has already had fun with this and don’t think voters won’t be reminded of it come next fall.

It’s important to note that Cassidy has never reached 50% in a federal election against a legitimate opponent. His 48% was good enough to defeat Cazayoux in 2008 – thanks to more than a little help from Michael Jackson and Louisiana’s former closed-primary system.

In fact, the main reason Cassidy has $3.4 million on hand is because he’s been raising money as a sitting congressman for 5 years, while defeating token opponents. It has been five years since Cassidy made a major TV buy or direct mail drop.

Bill Cassidy is a good man and does very well talking one on one with voters. However, his aloofness and tendency to alienate those with whom he disagrees has resulted in a lukewarm reception at best among party leaders. At the most recent meeting of the Republican State Central Committee, Cassidy was nowhere to be found even as at least two other potential Senate candidates made the rounds and pressed the flesh with committee members. It was later learned that Cassidy has chosen to skip the meeting so he could stay at home and rest.

While every candidate certainly needs an occasional day to recharge the batteries, skipping a meeting of 200 of the most engaged republican activists in the state was probably not the best idea. Cassidy’s home is less than 3 miles from where the meeting was held yet not only did he not attend but also did not send a staffer or surrogate to address the members.

There has been much made of Cassidy’s willingness to take on Landrieu and he is to be commended for risking a safe congressional seat to go after what has proven to be the most elusive of prizes for a party that has seen unprecedented success over the last ten years. However, before we pass the point of no return, Republican leaders owe it to our voters and to conservatives across the nation, to have a real discussion about who gives us the best chance to defeat Mary Landrieu. It may well be that another candidate can better assemble a campaign that appeals to not only independent voters, but who excites the conservative base. It is very hard to beat any incumbent, let alone a three term US Senator, but to try and win without near unanimous support among the party faithful is a recipe for disaster.

We must take a hard and objective look at the Cassidy campaign before moving ahead with what appears to be a candidate stuck in neutral. If we are to endure six more years of Mary, it should come despite all our best efforts and not because we sat on the sidelines and watched.

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