Next week, Congressman John Fleming will formally enter the U.S. Senate race. Earlier this week, his campaign released a memo to the media describing how they see the race right before qualifying. The memo got lost in the rest of this week’s news, but it’s still interesting reading.
First of all, they see the race divided into two tiers: the contenders and the pretenders.
The race to replace retiring United States Senator David Vitter (R-LA) continues to progress as the Fleming for Senate campaign anticipated, with the course of natural selection continuing to divide the field of candidates into two tiers.
Such an instance was exhibited during the June 29th U.S. Senate forum hosted by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). As highlighted by TheAdvocate columnist Stephanie Grace in her June 30th column, organizations such as NFIB have been forced to limit the number of candidates who may participate due to the size of the current candidate field. Much as in the 2016 Republican presidential race where some candidates did not appear in the prime-time debates, they found themselves unable to break through. This has begun in the Senate race, a natural division of the top tier from the rest of the candidates.
As expected, and previously discussed in the State of the Race memo dated June 1st, the top-tier candidates have emerged: Representatives John Fleming (R-LA), Charles Boustany (R-LA), State Treasurer John Kennedy (R-LA), and Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D-LA).
I think you can make argument that this a three tier race. The first tier race is the top tier contenders which is the four candidates the Fleming campaign mentioned plus Caroline Fayard.
The second tier are the candidates with less name ID who can make it into the top tier, especially if a top tier candidate stumbles. They’re quietly assembling the type of campaign that can compete over the long-term.
The third tier of candidates are the candidates are just wasting their own time and donors’ money.
The memo also goes on to attack Congressman Charles Boustany for his ongoing ethics problems related to the Facebook Live conversation that was mistakenly broadcast that took place allegedly in his Congressional office. It calls the Boustany campaign “distracted.”
The Fleming campaign goes on to describe the operation it is building and it is impressive, on paper at least.
While fundraising figures are not yet publicly disclosed, Fleming will in all likelihood remain at or near the top of the field, lapping the vast majority of his competitors in cash-on-hand (COH). In fact, Fleming will report having over $1 million more COH than Treasurer Kennedy. As his competition continues to try and catch up, Fleming will have already laid the groundwork for the campaign’s stretch-run. Notably, many of the expenses incurred by Fleming that were necessary to build his impressive campaign apparatus have not yet been incurred by his opponents. This makes Fleming’s COH an even larger real-cash advantage over the remainder of the field because these elements have already been put in place by the Fleming campaign. This will provide him with the budget flexibility to allocate resources where it is most needed without the threat of budget shortfalls many other candidates will face.
Beyond the hard campaign fundraising figures, the Fleming campaign continues to grow, building a strong grassroots organization to complement its coming media campaign. In June, Fleming announced the formation of his Louisiana campaign leadership team, directed by campaign manager J Hudson. Furthermore, Fleming has earned the endorsements of prominent Louisiana activists like Brenda DesOrmeaux
,who will be key in activating grassroots coalitions and voters. He continues to lead in national conservative endorsements with groups such as Club for Growth, Eagle Forum, and Family Research Council Action, Citizens United, Concerned Women of America and by leaders such as Rick Santorum, Tony Perkins, and Retired General William G. Boykin.
To put these advantages in practice, Fleming has opened multiple offices throughout Louisiana. These offices, located strategically across the state, will position Fleming to best build, expand, and get-out his voter base this November. This organizational presence separates Fleming from much of the field and will better allow him to tap into the anti-establishment sentiment around the state.
Money will not be an issue for the Fleming campaign. Fleming is after all a very wealthy man. If the fundraising doesn’t work out, he’ll self-fund.
The grassroots campaign looks impressive, on paper. We’ll see how impressive it really is later on in the year.
Despite how optimistic this memo is, Fleming and his campaign know they have a long way to go. For example, if the election was held today Fleming would not be in the runoff. Those two slots would go to John Kennedy and Charles Boustany.
But after some stumbling earlier in the year, the Fleming campaign is clearly on the right track. They will be a top-tier candidacy throughout the remainder of the Senate race.