Since the primary, an electronic billboard has flashed across the suburban New Orleans area with the statement “Republicans for John Bel Edwards”.
No names were listed on the billboard. It is in effect an expensive bumpersticker that rotates with ads for Lasik surgery, auto insurance and private school open houses.
However in a desperate attempt to bleed Vitter in his home turf of Jefferson Parish, long a bastion of Republican support, some current and former elected officials who just so happened to be registered to vote as Republicans have proudly announced their support for the Democratic candidate for governor.
And the list does not consist of the Republican Party’s A-Team but rather the equivalent of the Legion of Doom- the children of longtime Democratic pols, a shameless opportunist, a has-been on the way out of relevance, a pair of regular defectors from the party on important elections, and parochial politicians who are part of the courthouse gang.
Edwards’s GOP “fan club” includes State Representative Joe Lopinto, State Representative Bryan Adams, State Senator Danny Martiny, Jefferson Parish Council Members Elton LaGasse (soon to be Elton LaGone after being thrashed by Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni for parish president), Cynthia Lee-Sheng and Ricky Templet, and Sheriff Newell Normand. Also lending his voice to the anti-Vitter choir was ex-Assessor Lawrence E. Chehardy.
Chehardy might not be a name you want to drop if you are trying to appeal to the public’s “good government” inclinations.
Here is a man who attained his office by signing up against his father, Lawrence A. Chehardy for assessor at the last second. Once qualifying closed, the patriarch dropped out the race and thus was able to bequeath a tidy political inheritance to his en 22-year old college student son. So much for honoring the democratic system.
That political gambit gained a degree of infamy even by Louisiana standards so much so that such election qualification flim-flammery is known as “pulling a Chehardy.”
LoPinto is hoping to angle the office of speaker and is doubtlessly counting on “Governor” Edwards to reach out to the most amenable Republican for the prestigious legislative post. Currently registered Republicans comprise a majority of the House of Representatives and while there has been some talk of a Democrat being brokered into the speaker’s chair despite the party breakdown, it’s hard to envision enough members of the GOP caucus to go that far to accommodate a governor.
Normand and Roberts are two of the Democratic Party’s most reliable and useful Republican props, having previously endorsed US Senator Mary Landrieu for re-election. Their support for yet another Democrat is not newsworthy. However should either get behind a genuine Republican, I would hope that the local media would afford it front page status as it would truly be a case of “man bites dog.”
Sheng is the daughter of the late Sheriff Harry Lee, who was a Democrat and close friend of the Landrieu family, Edwin Edwards and Bill Clinton and the man most responsible for “Dollar” Bill Jefferson’s re-election to Congress in 2006. The only person with whom Vitter had a worse relationship than Normand was Lee.
Many of these politicians are prototypical RINOs, being affiliated with the GOP out of pure political necessity and not loyalty to its principles. If they were honest with the voters about their true political disposition, they would’ve never been elected in the first place.
I’ll give Martiny a pass because the longtime legislator and attorney for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office was visibly active on behalf of Bill Cassidy’s bid to unseat Landrieu last year.
Many of these people will want the support of Republican voters in the future. And rather than the party committee adopting a meaningless censure resolution (that they likely wouldn’t pass any way), the leadership of the state GOP should do something that will truly leave a mark by building a virtual Wall of Shame on the internet.
The names of these quislings would be digitally etched on the world wide web for posterity, a source of political ammo in the event a true Republican possessed the temerity to challenge these “conservative cons” while also sending a message to others who think they can cross the party Rubicon without consequence.
In the event Louisiana gets stuck with yet another Edwards in the governor’s mansion, these scoundrels should be held accountable for the excesses, personnel and policy of the Democratic administration.
For they will have gone the extra mile to make it happen.