Fleming Announces He’s Running For The Senate

A press release from minutes ago…

John Fleming, M.D., today released a video announcing his bid for Louisiana’s open US Senate seat. The video can be viewed on his campaign website: http://FlemingforLA.com

Dr. John Fleming represents Louisiana’s 4th Congressional District. He was first elected in 2008, and is currently serving his fourth term. He is a Navy Veteran, a family physician for more than 30 years, and a small businessman who created hundreds of jobs inLouisiana.

The 4th Congressional District includes all of northwest Louisiana, stretching east through Union Parish and south to Beauregard Parish, across to St. Landry Parish.

At the Congressman’s website you’ll find this announcement video…

Fleming’s problem is mostly geographical. He represents the 4th District, which is centered in the northwest part of the state. And while it used to be that Shreveport and the smaller towns around it (Fleming is from Minden) were the state’s hotbed of senators and governors, population trends have in the last several decades made South Louisianans more electable than North Louisianans in statewide races.

Which means Fleming is on the wrong side of the state. He’s going to have to spend the vast majority of his time in Baton Rouge and New Orleans building support and name recognition.

How successful that project will be is a question. It will determine whether he can win. And it depends to an extent on who else gets in the race.

Fleming actually wants Scott Angelle to get in, for a couple of reasons. If Angelle were to enter the race he could spend his time bashing him as a RINO, “Jindal’s guy” and a turncoat for standing by and allowing a Democrat to get elected governor. That would get Fleming headlines and burnish his street cred, particularly in places like suburban New Orleans and the Baton Rouge area (Ascension and Livingston Parishes in particular). With it appearing relatively likely that Rob Maness will run for the Senate again, Fleming will need to position himself as a Rob Maness who’s already won a congressional seat and can win a Senate seat as well. Hammering Angelle would be a good way to do that.

But he wants Angelle in the race for a more important reason; namely, that if Angelle were to get in it would split the vote in Southwest Louisiana that as of right now it appears Charles Boustany will have to himself. Boustany is the most senior of the likely candidates in terms of his length of time in major elected office and in particular his service in Washington, and he’s been moving to the right fairly consistently over the past two years in an effort to crowd Fleming out of the GOP mainstream in the state. It’s a smart bit of political positioning, and with the changeover of John Boehner, who Boustany had been a key ally of, to Paul Ryan in the Speaker’s chair it’s been necessary for the congressman from Lafayette to recast himself a bit.

What the race doesn’t have, yet, is someone from Baton Rouge or New Orleans with major recognition. Should Maness get in, he’ll work hard to assume that mantle. But Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta has been rumored to be eyeing the race and could be a dark horse in it, and then there is state treasurer John Kennedy – long thought to be pursuing the seat David Vitter will vacate in 2017. Kennedy ran for the Senate in 2008, losing to Mary Landrieu, and his having moved much of his campaign war chest into a Super PAC while spending a chunk of it on biographical, thoroughly unnecessary ads for his re-election looked like a major indication he would be getting in. Lately, though, there has been talk that Kennedy sees a better political opportunity – for the next four years he can play the role of tormentor to incoming governor John Bel Edwards where the state budget and other policies are concerned and in so doing put himself in position to run against Edwards in 2019. A Senate run would likely involve abandoning that role for long stretches of the next year, thus opening up an opportunity for someone else (like new Attorney General Jeff Landry) to pick up the standard; and should Kennedy win the Senate race it’s inconceivable he’d follow Vitter’s path of returning from Washington to run for governor, something that has never happened before and we doubt will ever happen again.

And there will be a Democrat in the race, though his name won’t be Mitch Landrieu. The New Orleans mayor ruled out a Senate run last week, bowing to the obvious fact he’s unelectable in a statewide race given his far-left record in the Big Easy. Without Landrieu, attention might focus on his sister as a potential comeback candidate, though word is she’s rather safely ensconced in a highly-paid position with a DC lobbying firm and unlikely to go through another statewide campaign. That would mean the Dems would have to pick from a roster of undistinguished state legislators in hopes of finding one who can raise or self-fund enough money to stay competitive. Don’t be surprised if state Sen. Gary Smith (D-Norco) were to jump in; he can self-fund and he’ll bring the same “pro-gun, pro-life” spin to the table Edwards did in the governor’s race.

But Louisiana is still a red state. The chances of a Democrat coasting through a primary while a gaggle of Republicans slaughter each other, and then ride past a damaged GOP runoff opponent the way Edwards did are not outstanding. That happened once this decade, but it seems unlikely it’ll happen again.

The real race will be between Boustany and Fleming, or Boustany, Fleming and Kennedy should he get in. That’s why the contestants are jumping in early.



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