We weren’t going to address this, because we didn’t think it was all that newsworthy at first, but somehow there is a stink being made over a resolution passed by the State Central Committee of the Louisiana Republican Party at its meeting last Saturday which would seem to be perfectly obviously appropriate.
Namely, that the party is imposing a rule in which, starting on January 1 of next year, you’re ineligible for the Louisiana GOP endorsement as a candidate for office if you back – either with an endorsement or a campaign contribution – a Democrat in a statewide or federal race where there’s a Republican running.
That’s not a particularly remarkable rule, by any means. The kind of people the Louisiana Republican Party wants to carry its standard will generally view Democrats, and particularly today’s Democrats who more often than not are hard-core socialists of the Bernie Sanders stripe, as thoroughly unworthy of political support in major races. What’s more, what this is really aimed to do is keep politically-minded Republicans from giving John Bel Edwards the kind of bipartisan coverage he got in 2015, when better than half of the Republican political class in Jefferson Parish, for example, threw in behind him for governor. As the state GOP central committee is made up more or less entirely of people who regard John Bel Edwards as an unmitigated disaster it’s not surprising they’d be passing whatever rules they can to stop Republican voters from putting him back in the governor’s mansion for another term.
Naturally, the Times-Picayune’s Julia O’Donoghue wrote up the meeting in which the rule was passed as something from an insane asylum, focusing on the fact that the central committee couldn’t agree on an endorsement of a candidate in the Secretary of State’s race – which is hardly a surprise given there are five fairly well-heeled GOP candidates in the race and all five of them have supporters and allies among the central committee’s membership. None of that is particularly newsworthy, we thought, so we focused on other things this week.
Then yesterday, in the Advocate’s Letters To The Editor section, this stupidity appeared…
I refer to this weekend’s misguided, politically ignorant resolution by the Louisiana GOP as the David Duke Resolution. It is a losing proposition for the Republican brand and a symptom of why the Louisiana Republican Party has lost relevance in winning elections or building the Republican brand. I am a lifelong Republican. I have never voted for a Democrat in a race with a Republican, with one big exception. I cast a vote for Edwin Edwards over Klansman David Duke. I did so because I am a Christian, an American and a Reagan Republican.
The modern Louisiana GOP was born as a reform movement by conservatives. “Keep it clean with Treen” was the battle cry of the first Republican governor since reconstruction. Scores of Democrat politicians have now shifted their brand name from Democrat to Republican. They hide behind the brand to defend the corrupt status quo. Many put career and special interests before country or state. As a conservative Republican, I’d like to be clear that there wasn’t anything conservative about the irresponsible Jindal administration or the past 10 years of “Republican” Louisiana Legislatures. There was nothing conservative about selling valuable state assets at bargain prices to pay operating expenses, crashing Louisiana’s credit rating, and draining capital accounts for pet projects. The “swamp” needs to be drained at the Louisiana Capitol and some of it is hiding behind a “Republican” (in name only) brand.
This latest pitiful resolution to extort a forced endorsement for any Republican, no matter how corrupt or irresponsible they may be is a desperate and fearful attempt. Thankfully, we the Conservative Republican citizens of Louisiana, not party insiders, will define what Republicanism is. Until the Louisiana Republican Party remembers that cronyism is not conservatism they are the enemy of real conservative Republicanism in Louisiana. Republican donors and activists are engaging daily to work outside the currently out this out of touch state party structure to “drain the swamp” at the Louisiana Capitol and build a future for our children.
Mathis isn’t all that well-known a political consultant in state circles. He’s done some PAC work here and there, and he was on Rob Maness’ team for both of Maness’ Senate campaigns. Who his current clients might be that this resolution would affect – and there has to be one, because otherwise it’s hard to understand why he’d be so vituperative about something the majority of Republican voters wouldn’t have much of a problem with – could be we don’t know. But a screed like that clearly indicates this is hitting close to home with him, and we found it interesting.
Let’s remember that if you’ve given a campaign donation to a Democrat already, the resolution doesn’t bar you from the endorsement of the LAGOP. You just can’t do it again after the first of the year. So why would anybody be this upset about it?
One can’t help but wonder.
Mathis might be sore about this because one attack on Maness that hit home had to do with a campaign donation he gave to an old Air Force buddy who ran for federal office back in Indiana as a Democrat. That was something which was used against him in both of the Senate races he ran, and again last year when he ran for state representative in District 77, losing to Mark Wright. But again – the resolution wouldn’t bar Rob Maness from getting the LAGOP endorsement unless Maness were to write a check for a Democrat running for statewide office after Jan. 1, and we’re pretty sure Maness isn’t going to do that. This kind of invective is peculiar, to say the least.
Of course, none of this stuff is a problem if you have party primaries in place like the vast majority of states (who by the way usually generate considerably better results through their political process than Louisiana does). In a party primary the voters you’ll get are the chronic ones, and they’re both extremely well informed and know what to look for in selecting a candidate who’ll represent them. So you wouldn’t even need a resolution like this – somebody running in a GOP primary who’d given money to Democrats would have to answer for it in front of those primary voters, and they’d want a damn good reason why he’d open his checkbook for the other side.
Of course, Donald Trump had done that very thing and the GOP primary voters forgave him for it, due partially to his explanation that he was essentially paying bribes to local pols to keep them from killing his real estate and construction deals and partially because they felt like ideological purity was less important than nominating somebody mean enough to beat Hillary Clinton. Those kinds of judgements are best left up to GOP primary voters. Trump did win the White House, after all, and Republican voters seem to like him fine as president, so the primary voters must have known what they were doing.
But we don’t have party primaries in Louisiana now. So until the politicians in this state wise up and bring them back, the state GOP has to do things like this in order to protect its brand from the Newell Normands and Jay Dardennes of the world who’d rather play pet Republican for Edwards for their own personal benefit than act out of any kind of conviction. And if that’s not OK with John Mathis, it’s our bet nobody on the State Central Committee really gives a hoot.