An interesting development in the Riser-McAllister race: McAllister, who has been infuriating Republican voters across the 5th District (which comprised 68 percent of the primary electorate and by all estimations will be an even larger share of the runoff electorate) by backing a Medicaid expansion, is now firing out robocalls with a rather controversial figure in state Democrat politics.
Namely, former Congressman and failed 1999 Democrat gubernatorial candidate Cleo Fields – whose name came up as the recipient of a $25,000 payoff from disgraced former governor, federal inmate and failed reality TV star Edwin Edwards when the investigation of the latter became public.
The following turned up on a voice mail in the Monroe area…
A piece of information we at the Hayride aren’t supposed to know, but was admitted to this morning: Riser’s internal polling had indicated he was losing to McAllister fairly consistently from the end of the primary up until last weekend, when Riser got a big break: namely, that McAllister backed the Medicaid expansion.
Ever since McAllister did that, Riser’s internal polling began showing him in the lead. And Riser’s lead has been growing.
People recruit Cleo Fields in an attempt to turn out the black vote, and people keep getting burned in doing that. There was, for example, one race for assessor in Baton Rouge a decade ago when one candidate had Fields cut a radio spot to run on black stations – and when it ran, that candidate’s opponent recorded the spot and blasted it out to 60,000 white households as a robocall.
Guess which candidate won?
You really have to question McAllister’s campaign team. We’ve never heard of any of these people, and there don’t appear to be too many rising stars among them. Because the fact is, right now it looks like they’ve blown a real shot he had to win this race. After all, he’s got the Duck Dynasty crowd helping him…
…and that would do him some good but for word of a Fields robocall canceling it out.
Yes, McAllister needed to run to the left of Riser. But only SLIGHTLY to the left of Riser. Some 68 percent of the electorate in the 5th District voted for Republican candidates in the primary, and that was with four Democrats in the race. Two of those Democrats were black candidates, and yet a district where black voters comprise 33 percent of the registrations showed only 23 percent of the vote as black in the primary.
There is zero reason to think black voters would make up anything close to 23 percent in the runoff, when both candidates are white Republicans.
Certainly it made sense for McAllister to collect the endorsement of Jamie Mayo, the black Democrat mayor of Monroe who ran third in the primary. But to outwardly pander to the black vote when it will be at most 23 percent – and probably less – of the runoff electorate by endorsing a Medicaid expansion while Obamacare is cratering? You could call that overkill, and you’d be right.
And having Cleo Fields doing robocalls for you, when it’s unquestionable that Riser’s folks will find out about it and it will get out…well, that’s just dumb.
McAllister needed to quietly pick up the 10-15 percent of the runoff electorate the black community would generate, another 7-10 percent of the runoff electorate made up of left-of-center white Democrats who dislike Gov. Jindal on policy…and then compete for the conservative vote by making sure that on policy there is no real difference between himself and Riser other than in rhetoric.
For example, Medicaid expansion: McAllister is running for Congress, not governor. There is absolutely nothing he can do on that issue even if he gets elected. So why take a position on that? Why not just say you see both sides of the issue and declare that as a congressman your aim is to make sure as many people can get covered as possible – and if that means reforming Medicaid so that it makes sense for Jindal to expand it in Louisiana, great? You haven’t made any commitments, and you’ve romanced the Left a little without alienating the 68 percent of the voters who pulled levers for Republicans.
The fact is, most Democrat voters aren’t very sophisticated about policy. They like the idea of free stuff from the government, and they like abortion. But they don’t do a lot of snooping into the specifics of those things, so to make them happy all you really need is to show them that you care about them. Throw out some buzzwords – I Feel Your Pain – and decry the presence of extremists and racists and you’ve more or less covered that base.
That’s how McAllister could have run to Riser’s left without costing himself votes. Getting Cleo Fields to do robocalls in Monroe – why isn’t Mayo, the mayor who endorsed McAllister, doing those calls? – is not how you do it.