The Baton Rouge Business Report had an interesting tidbit in this morning’s Daily Report on the 6th District race…
Earlier this week, just a few days after he announced his bid for the 6th Congressional District, state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, fell under fire from negative robocalls. Based on reports from LaPolitics Weekly subscribers and an interview with Claitor, the calls accused him of wanting to tax Christians and of being opposed to the tea party movement. “I’ve never said either of those things,” Claitor says. Some of his constituents shared the caller ID information with Claitor and the incoming phone number matches up with one the D.C.-based Family Research Council once used for polling, according to online call center forums. But that’s far from definitive and nailing down who sponsored the negative robocalls has proven tricky. It’s an interesting situation, since FRC president Tony Perkins has said he is interested in running for the 6th District seat.
There are some indications that number could have been possibly spoofed by a name or number showing up on caller ID that isn’t the original source.
Recent media reports have pitted Claitor against Family Research Council President Tony Perkins as foils, with Claitor promising a more pragmatic approach compared to the FRC, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled as a hate group.
While nailing down who sponsored the negative robocalls calls has proven tricky, FRC spokesperson Darin Miller said, “The calls are not an FRC operation.”
The LAPolitics piece also contains something we’ve heard this week as well, which is that Perkins is not running for the 6th District. In fact, yesterday we were told by a pretty good source that Perkins is definitely out.
Which leads to an interesting question: who’s doing those robocalls?
If Perkins isn’t getting in – and it turns out that right now, he’s not – then it was a major face-plant by Claitor to have gone after him and the FRC, and by extension, the Louisiana Family Forum, which Perkins founded. By doing so he made an enemy out of a group of people he doesn’t even need to run against.
Had Perkins gotten in, sure – Perkins would be the key opponent in the race for Claitor, so taking shots at him would be understood.
We said when Claitor used the occasion of his campaign launch to attack Perkins as a David Duke wannabe that it was over the top and counterproductive. If those calls are coming from friends of Tony Perkins and Perkins isn’t going to get in the race, we’re being proved even more right than we expected.
Because Claitor will have put himself in the position of running against a ghost. He’s going to spend the whole campaign getting attacked by people who aren’t even in the race, and trying to counterattack them.
When that has happened before, it usually results in a candidate who looks ridiculous. And as such, other candidates look reasonable and mature, even if they lack the advantages of the frontrunner.
Now – if the FRC number is being spoofed and the calls are coming from elsewhere, like for instance Democrats, it’s a different calculus. But the Democrats don’t have a candidate in this race. Preparing the ground for one to enter might involve stoking a fight between Claitor and Perkins’ allies, but to really make that work for them the Dems would have to run someone the FRC or the Family Forum would be able to support. If that’s in the offing, we haven’t heard anything about it.
Claitor will have a lot of old Baton Rouge money and a big chunk of the business community in town behind him. That makes him the frontrunner, and right now the two other candidates in the race – Paul Dietzel and Cassie Felder – are largely considered as long shots. But both Dietzel and Felder are Republicans, not Democrats.
Felder, a Baton Rouge lawyer who as it turns out was one of the architects of the CATS tax, is something of an unknown and maybe she would be to the left of Claitor. How it would particularly benefit her to have Claitor and the FRC crowd at each other’s throats isn’t clear.
But Dietzel can put himself in position as the true conservative in the race, who’s friendly with the Christians (he is one) and a defender of economic freedom against the good-old-boy crony capitalists (he’s received some backing from a well-heeled libertarian PAC). And without really going after Claitor Dietzel might just sit there and pull a lot of support nobody thought the 27-year old web entrepreneur and grandson of the legendary LSU football coach could get.
The smart money says Claitor has rounded up the support for the big boys and he has a coronation coming. But if he’s going to spend this campaign getting trashed by the religious conservatives and stepping on himself in an attempt to get past his attacks on Perkins or to fight back against a non-candidate, it’s not a done deal that coronation is at hand.