The Baton Rouge mayor’s race is more or less down to Bodi White and Sharon Weston Broome, so it was largely inevitable that you’d begin to see things get chippy between the two camps.
It’s going to heat up considerably now that Citizens For A Better Baton Rouge, the PAC supporting White, has fired off its first salvo against Broome. Which is this ad…
It hits just a few days after this, Broome’s first campaign spot, made its debut…
We don’t know if the PAC ad was put together after somebody saw Broome’s ad or if they just got lucky, but the visual of Broome pushing a wheelbarrow in her nice clothes in that “flooded” house that looked staged coming ahead of the ad which casts her as a career politician who’s never done anything could be pretty effective to undecided voters. Don’t be shocked if the PAC, which has a lot more money than Broome’s campaign does, brackets their spot around hers when she buys time for it.
The money line in the PAC ad is the school choice piece, which it doesn’t spell out but infers very clearly by noting her consistent votes in the legislature against measures intended at improving education. That means the 2012 education reform package, and it also means the Southeast Baton Rouge ISD and St. George efforts. There’s no need to spell those out, as the St. George stuff could be divisive for some, but White’s camp has a message on education which doesn’t so much advocate St. George as attempting to address the concerns that made the St. George people want a new city in the first place. School choice in East Baton Rouge Parish, which really ought to have bipartisan popularity but doesn’t thanks to down-the-line Democrats like Broome who get campaign dollars and boots on the ground from the teacher unions, is an issue destined for a full vetting in the mayor’s race – it’s probably White’s best and maybe only opportunity to penetrate the black vote in what would otherwise be expected to be a racially polarized runoff campaign.
And it doesn’t hurt that the major donor who established Citizens For A Better Baton Rouge is ISC Constructors, LLC founder and CEO Eddie Rispone, who is perhaps the single most influential and active backer of educational choice in Louisiana.
Broome’s decision not to cross party lines and back school choice was not preordained. There were Democrats who did, particularly among the New Orleans delegation. School choice has made a major difference in the quality of education in Orleans Parish, which was once effectively, if not by name, the worst school system in the country, and as such there have been a number of black Democrat legislators who have become defenders. In fact, former state senator Ann Duplessis, a black Democrat from New Orleans, is the president of the Louisiana Federation for Children, which is a school choice group that Rispone has been a benefactor of.
But the fact Broome chose to side with the teacher unions despite representing Baton Rouge, which has some of the same public education problems New Orleans had, in the state legislature could well be her undoing. White’s camp, including Citizens For A Better Baton Rouge, will paint that decision as evidence she’s a hack politician who lacks vision and rejects innovation when it helps kids. And with enough money behind that message, it’s entirely possible that it could sap her strength among her base vote.
At least that seems to be the strategy behind this ad. You won’t effectively counter that strategy pushing around a wheelbarrow on TV.