(#Schmuckshaming) More Edwin Edwards Donors To Make Famous

We’ll open this post up with a theory we don’t have any immediate evidence for but we think is completely plausible: if the former governor, convicted racketeer and failed reality TV star ends up with less than 35 percent of the vote next Tuesday night, and if he finishes the primary vote with a lead, don’t be shocked if he ends up withdrawing from the 6th District congressional race rather than fighting out the runoff.

Remember, after all, that Edwards has withdrawn from hopeless runoffs before. In 1987, as he ended his disastrous third term as governor barely managing to survive a federal corruption prosecution amid a state in shambles, Edwards polled just 28 percent in a jungle primary that included Bubby Roemer, Bob Livingston, Billy Tauzin and Jim Brown. Roemer jumped out to a surprising 33 percent as a late-charging bearer of the reform standard he’d been fighting with Livingston, Tauzin and Brown for; it was more or less a sure thing Edwards wasn’t going to saw off enough of the vote to get to 50 in a runoff with him when 72 percent of the voters had rejected the incumbent.

That was in 1987 when Edwards was still supposedly in his heyday. He was 63 at the time.

Now he’s 87. We’ve seen a couple of non-public polls in the last couple of weeks which show Edwards well below 35; those are Republican polls, so perhaps he’ll beat their figures, but he’s as low at 29 percent in one of them. And the general direction of Edwards’ poll performance has been negative; the more the Republican candidates in the race have increased their name recognition the more Edwards has fallen.

Couple that with the fact he has yet to put any ads on TV, and the campaign has the feel of an excuse for the former governor to make his way around to pancake breakfasts, sausage festivals, nursing homes and church services to soak up the adulation of his aging longtime supporters rather than to actually run to win.

A couple of factors which might lend some support to this theory. First, it’s one of those open secrets in Louisiana politics that Edwin Edwards and Mary Landrieu are no particular political allies – there was even scuttlebutt at the time Edwards privately blamed his indictment on the charges which ultimately sent him to the federal pen on Landrieu. For him to dump out of the runoff in the 6th District when Landrieu would badly need a Democrat on the ticket in December to help boost turnout might be a fun way to stick the knife in her as revenge.

And second, were Edwards to run first in the primary but with a number that indicates he has no chance to win the runoff, or even get close, he’d be able to make one of those cutesy claims his supporters will delight in repeating and the state’s Republicans would be driven to distraction in rejecting – namely, that “I won my last race.” It’s the kind of thing he repeatedly says now; namely, to tout his electoral strength in hypothetical circumstances. He’s repeatedly said of late, for example, that if he ran against Bobby Jindal for governor he’d win. The likelihood of that being true even if Edwards wasn’t barred from running for state office in Louisiana (as opposed to the federal office he’s able to run for thanks to a hole in federal law) is highly disputable; that an 87 year old man whom the voters turned out of office twice (in 1995 as well as 1987) would be able to survive a six-month campaign grind and the millions of dollars in opposing media that would be raised and spent against him strains the bounds of credibility. But Edwards likes to say things like that to get attention for himself, knowing that he won’t be proved wrong.

Running for Congress and spending six months in the spotlight while the Republicans fight it out for the right to destroy him in the runoff and basically ignore him in the process is right up his alley. Going up against a well-funded Republican who probably raises a million dollars within days after the primary and drops every cent of that money into TV ads destroying his character and reputation…not so much. Unless he’s able to pull off a surprising number in the primary and gets within reasonable distance of 50 percent, don’t be shocked if he goes on his merry way and seeks to parlay his aborted congressional run into some other vehicle for attention and relevance.

In the meantime, though, here’s a new list of people who think it’s a swell idea to write checks not to help cure AIDS or feed the homeless or save the polar bears, but to send somebody convicted of public corruption to Congress…

NAME TOWN OCCUPATION AMT
Leonard P Abington Many, LA Cattleman $300
Hillery B Allen Ponchatoula, LA Teacher $400
Hugh Andre New Iberia, LA Farmer $1,500
Larry Bankston Baton Rouge, LA Attorney $500
Thomas Bellavia Amite, LA School Administrator $300
Kathleen D Broussard Youngsville, LA Housewife $500
Capitol Trucks LLC Baton Rouge, LA $500
Karen F Ceppos Baton Rouge, LA Retired $250
Gay Noel B Courson Baton Rouge, LA Exec. Assistant/Lobbying Firm $1,250
Millard F Cranch Baton Rouge, LA Marketing/Public Relations $250
Robert S Cunard Baton Rouge, LA Retired $500
Edward L Diefenthal Metairie, LA Retired $2,000
Nancy G Fields Alexandria, LA Housewife $250
Charles E Fredieu Oil City, LA Retired $500
Laurie Gentry Many, LA Housewife $500
John Gorman Pineville, LA US Veterans Contracting Service $1,410
David L Guillot Madisonville, LA Retired $1,000
Ernest Johnson, Sr. Baton Rouge, LA Attorney $500
Sharron L Johnson Chantilly, VA Housewife $500
Louis L Joseph Independence, LA Retired $400
Kavitha Kanuri Skillman, NJ Physician $500
Donald Kelly Natchitoches, LA Attorney $1,000
Anne Z Kiefer New Orleans, LA Secretary/N.O. District Atty’s Office $300
Carl J Krielow Roanoke, VA Farmer $2,000
Saundra S Lane Bandera, TX Advertising Agency Director $500
Tonya P Mabry Amite, LA Justice of the Peace $300
Michael J Mayeaux Metairie, LA Plumber $500
Lester J Millet LaPlace, LA Retired $300
Raleigh Newman Lake Charles, LA Attorney $7,800
Susan Nickel Baton Rouge, LA Not Employed $1,250
Chris Owens New Orleans, LA Owner/Exotic Dance Club $1,000
Hobart O Pardue Springfield, LA Attorney $1,000
Peyton Parker Baton Rouge, LA Attorney $500
Gary P Parks Baton Rouge, LA Real Estate $300
Jude Patin San Antonio, TX Retired $350
Michael Rivet Plaquemine, LA City Councilman $500
Michael W Russell Baton Rouge, LA Consultant $250
Charles B Saltaformaggio Covington, LA Police Officer $300
Richard Sanderson II New Orleans, LA President/Clear Communications $2,600
Harrison Scott Slidell, LA Attorney $1,000
Eugene Sellers Lafayette, LA Retired $2,700
Arthur Neil Smith Baton Rouge, LA Neurologist $400
Jerri Smitko Houma, LA Attorney $1,000
Bradley A Stevens Hammond, LA Attorney $400
Betty Sun Houma, LA Commercial Real Estate $500
Wright Thompson Oxford, MS Writer/ESPN $250
Basile J Uddo New Orleans, LA Attorney $500
Jerry D Westmoreland Baton Rouge, LA Retired $1,000
Logan Fournerat Eunice, LA Louisiana Crane & Construction $500
Stephanie Freyman New Orleans, LA Apple Store $1,000
Robert Garrity New Orleans, LA Attorney $300
Mark A Gravel Alexandria, LA Gravel Investigations $500
Stuart Murphy Roseland, LA Farmer $1,500
Malcolm B Price, Jr Baton Rouge, LA Real Estate Broker $1,000
James W Quillin Alexandria, LA Doctor $1,000
Blaine J Sheets Gonzales, LA Business Owner $2,500
Elton W White Baton Rouge, LA House Contractor $1,000

And then there are the PAC contributions…

PAC AMT
Acadian Ambulance Service, Inc., Employee Federal PAC $1,000
International Union of Operating Engineers $5,000
International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers $5,000

All in all, Edwards isn’t raising enough money to survive in a runoff even without spending much of anything on media to date. A survey of his recent campaign expenditures shows a few dollars for staff, some money for food and beverages at some fundraising events, spending for yards signs and campaign buttons, a few dollars here and there for phone banking and a few splurgy campaign meals at a fancy restaurant or two. It’s a pretty bare bones effort, but as of Oct. 15 it’s resulted in $112,000 in cash on hand. Edwards has managed to raise, as of Oct. 15, $323,000 against $210,000 in funds spent.

Compare that to Garret Graves, who so far has raised $1.154 million and spent $902,000 – leaving him $248,000 in the bank. If Graves were to make the runoff and reload according to expectations, the money he could bring to bear in swamping Edwards would be like nothing the 87-year old ex-con has seen from an opponent. Should Graves not make the runoff, the other Republican candidates might have resources more in Edwards’ league – Paul Dietzel’s campaign has taken in $570,000 and spent $493,000 to date, Dan Claitor has raised $361,000 and spent $347,000 and Lenar Whitney has taken in $207,000 and spent $201,000. But nobody thinks the Republican who makes the runoff won’t run into an immediate fundraising bonanza; the cause of preventing Edwin Edwards from making it to the U.S. House of Representatives is probably the easiest to raise money for in modern memory, and the cash that will find its way to whomever is his December opponent will make for a sizable hill if not a mountain in no time flat.

It’s questionable whether he has the energy to climb that hill. Don’t be surprised to see him throw in the towel.

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