Not that the state Republican Party’s endorsed candidate for Attorney General or Roger Villere, the newly-mustachioed state party chairman, did anything wrong in the press conference. As we reported on Friday, the LAGOP’s State Central Committee was going to ask the Executive Committee to vote on an endorsement of Landry over incumbent Buddy Caldwell, a lifelong Democrat who switched to the GOP before running for re-election in 2011 and whose record in office has more red flags than a May Day parade, and the vote was unanimous.
Caldwell knew the Landry endorsement was coming. He didn’t even seek it – Villere said yesterday that Caldwell hadn’t called him about getting the endorsement.
But that didn’t stop the media assemblage from asking the same question – essentially, what’s wrong with Buddy Caldwell? – over and over again.
WAFB’s story on the press conference, by the usually quite professional Greg Meriwether, captured the petulance of the media when Landry and Villere refused to use the presser as an opportunity to trash Caldwell…
Compare that with the story WBRZ did on the press conference, which was a little more focused on what actually happened yesterday.
WBRZ interviewed Dan Richey, who is on the state Republican Central Committee, and got the obvious answer Landry and Villere didn’t want to give at the press conference – namely, that Caldwell is a Republican by convenience only, he’s a tool of the plaintiff bar, he’s broken state law repeatedly in order to hook his friends up with lucrative contracts for legal services and all of his political friends are still Democrats.
After all, when you’re a Republican statewide official showing up at Barbara Norton fundraisers it’s hardly a surprise the state’s Republican leadership isn’t all that impressed with the “R” next to your name.
Nobody was surprised to see the State Central Committee endorse Landry. Nobody.
The endorsement is significant, in that it’s been since 1991 that the LAGOP endorsed against a sitting incumbent with an “R” next to their name. Back then the victim was then-governor Buddy Roemer, who had been a Republican for all of two weeks and did basically nothing to further his cause as the endorsee of his new party, which backed Clyde Holloway as its candidate. The Roemer/Holloway endorsement, which was a fiasco in that Holloway ran a poor fourth in the race and Roemer lost a spot in the runoff to David Duke on the way to the infamous Duke/Edwards finale marking the low point in Louisiana political history, was an anomaly. This situation was more predictable; Caldwell is no different now than he was with a “D” behind his name and had never defended his seat as a Republican. He ran unopposed in 2011.
Perhaps Meriwether and the other journalists on hand, including print reporters from AP and the Advocate, were just looking for something juicy by asking over and over again what was wrong with Caldwell. The theory here, perhaps more so with the print reporters than Meriwether, is that asking that question in hopes of a “good” answer fit the narrative they wanted to push in their reporting of the story.
Specifically, that the LAGOP is run by a bunch of radical crazies who are so out of touch with the people of the state that they’re turning their backs on a proven, twice-elected responsible centrist like Buddy Caldwell in order to back a whack-job in Jeff Landry who held up signs at State of the Union addresses from the audience and will willingly destroy the state attorney general’s office.
Villere and Landry were smart and didn’t give them anything they could use to push that narrative, which is why the AP story and the Advocate piece both come off as relatively inoffensive pieces which touch on the obvious dissatisfaction most Republicans have with Caldwell as a standard-bearer but don’t go overboard.
Villere denied them that by essentially stonewalling the question of what’s wrong with Caldwell. It’s unfortunate that prudence prevented him from saying what he and the rest of the party’s leaders really think based on how it would have been reported.