For those among our audience who aren’t familiar with the Buckley Rule, it’s a creation of National Review founder and titan of 20th century conservative thought William F. Buckley, who, when asked his prescription for how best to translate ideology into action in the voting booth, advised to support the most conservative candidate who can win. Specifically, Buckley’s standard was “the rightwardmost viable candidate.”
Buckley was no establishment figure in his day, though his descendants have certainly become a decent-sized wedge of the Washington establishment. In 1965 he ran for mayor of New York under the standard of the Conservative Party, and in 1988 he was instrumental in defeating left-leaning Republican senator Lowell Weicker in Connecticut in favor of the more-centrist Democrat Joseph Lieberman. When we reference the Buckley Rule, our interpretation requires that we search for a conservative edge among our electable choices.
And, particularly in light of last week’s developments described here at The Hayride on Friday, this means the apparent choice in what has heretofore been a tepid race for Secretary of State in a special election to replace Tom Schedler, who resigned amid a sex scandal earlier this year, is the current incumbent Kyle Ardoin.
We understand that there are three other Republicans who present as more conservative than Ardoin, who was formerly a Democrat and in a previous career iteration as a lobbyist was guilty of making campaign donations to some rather unsavory Democrat politicians. We get that.
But remember, there are two elements to the Buckley Rule. We love the part about “most conservative candidate,” but the less-fun-and-yes-more-important element is “who can win.”
And that’s the problem.
We said in announcing the results of the Hayride/Remington Research poll last month that the three hard-core conservatives in the race were canceling each other out…
Our key takeaway from the poll is that the three conservative brands in the race – Crowe, Cloud and Edmonds – are cannibalizing each other and none can make the runoff so long as they’re all in the race. At present it looks like Cloud has the best upside of the three, which means in order for one of the conservatives to make the runoff our recommendation would be for Crowe and Edmonds to call it quits and endorse her. Take Crowe and Edmonds out of the race and give their voters to Cloud, and she leads the field with 18 percent statewide, which is likely enough to hold off Ardoin and Stokes’ late-race media surges.
Had Rick Edmonds and A.G. Crowe taken our advice and pulled out to back Heather Cloud, you might have a different race and this post might read differently. But what seems quite obvious, particularly from reading last week’s campaign finance reports, is there was no chance of either one exiting the race. The consultants in those two campaigns have been getting very fat off their clients – to the tune of more than $75,000 in Crowe’s case and $45,000 in Edmonds’ – and their getting paid appears to be a lot higher priority than getting a “true” conservative elected.
And in Edmonds’ case it’s even worse, because he’s repeatedly seized on the fake scandal surrounding Louisiana’s contract to purchase new voting machines – again, for a full airing of what’s actually going on there, see our post on it from Friday – in an effort to scrape out votes on the basis of “integrity.” Look, we don’t dispute Edmonds’ integrity – we love him as a state legislator and we think he’d make a fine secretary of state. The fact is, his statements about Ardoin’s supposed bid-rigging are flat-out untrue, and they parrot the nakedly political bilge being spun by John Bel Edwards’ gang. Edmonds has been warned off making them by numerous people on the Republican side and ignored that advice to listen to the consultants who’ve made off with his campaign war chest, and it’s a real shame.
We’re told he’s made his campaign TV buy for the race, and it’s only $29,000 for three weeks of commercials in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette. For that money over three weeks in those markets you’d be lucky to get spots on the tube earlier than 2 AM if you’re trying to get any volume at all. Why Edmonds, who should have some strength in North Louisiana, isn’t all over the TV in Shreveport, Monroe and Alexandria is a mystery to us; the only thing we can figure about that is his ad buy is designed to maximize the commissions his media buyer can make.
Crowe has also dabbled in the voting machines fiasco, but like Edmonds he’s getting lousy advice. Crowe’s campaign finance report last week was astonishing in the rapacity of the consultants involved – $39,000 for one set of them, $26,000 for another set, $11,000 for a third. So far as we can tell Crowe won’t even have any money to go on TV for a statewide race, which makes us wonder whether his consultants are working for him or if it’s the other way around. The fact that he’s largely self-financing his campaign makes this even worse; it’s unconscionable.
Cloud, who has exceeded expectations so far and might end up as high as fourth in the Nov. 6 primary, hasn’t spent a lot of money on consultants or anything else. As a result she might come out of this race having actually helped herself – next year she’s going to have a chance to run for the state senate seat being vacated by Democrat Eric Lafleur due to term limits, and that might well be the best opportunity for a conservative flip in the entire legislative cycle. We’re excited about that and we think Cloud, currently the mayor of Turkey Creek, has a terrific political future.
In fact, we like all three of the “true conservatives” in the race. This isn’t about that.
What it’s about is the fact that John Bel Edwards and his gang on the fourth floor of the State Capitol want a runoff between Renee Free and Julie Stokes, and conservatives in Louisiana have to do what’s necessary to ensure they don’t get that matchup. Neither Edmonds nor Crowe, with the way their campaigns have squandered resources, nor Cloud with her lack of name ID and campaigning on the cheap, are quite viable to prevent a Free-Stokes runoff.
Stokes is an unappealing candidate who offers nothing in the way of qualifications for the Secretary of State’s office. She’s been one of Edwards’ best pals in the House of Representatives, she’s voted for tax increases as often as not, and she touts her experience as a CPA in a race for an office which has absolutely nothing to do with accounting. Her message might have some validity if it had been applied to the Treasurer’s race last year, which she wanted to run for, but it’s got nothing to do with this one. What Stokes does have is more money than anybody else in the race and we expect this week she’ll be all over the TV. It’s likely she’ll be mounting a charge to make the runoff against Free.
So Ardoin is the only real opportunity available to prevent either a tax-raising RINO or a Democrat from winning, and essentially giving John Bel Edwards control over the Secretary of State’s office (and therefore the elections office) in advance of his running for re-election.
But is Kyle conservative? Well, if he doesn’t feel it in his bones he for sure seems to see the light of late.
Let’s remember that Ardoin was the swing vote in banning a pair of anti-gun Wall Street banks from financing Louisiana’s bonded debt after Citigroup and Bank of America uncorked a spate of discriminatory bank policies against gun owners, sellers and manufacturers. That was a blow to Edwards, who we’re told had been playing a lot of footsie with those two banks’ well-paid Louisiana lobbyists, and Ardoin might well have ruined a deal whereby the governor traded away the protection of our Second Amendment rights for a big chunk of Wall Street cash financing his re-election effort next year.
That isn’t nothing. The easy thing for Ardoin to have done was to run away from that vote like Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser did. Instead, he walked with us.
And now that Ardoin is being put in Edwards’ crosshairs with this voting machines business – which by the way is going to make it likely that Louisiana won’t have state-of-the-art technology in place for next year’s elections and maybe not even the 2020 election either, in which we could be voting for not only president but possibly two senators – it looks to us like he might be evolving to the right.
We’ve seen good evidence of that around the country lately. Look at Lindsey Graham, for example. Or closer to home, look at Bill Cassidy – who everybody thought was a soft Republican but has turned into a conservative superstar mostly due to defending himself against unhinged leftists online and in person. Ardoin is only the latest example – and he’s come out firing against Edwards and the Democrats in the wake of the voting machine mess in an almost Brett Kavanaugh-esque fashion.
Even if none of that convinces you Ardoin is as conservative as Edmonds, Crowe and Cloud, is it sufficient that he shares our enemies? In that office, we judge the answer to be yes.
Remember, the reason nobody cares about the Secretary of State race is most of what the office does is ministerial. There is no conservative agenda to be promoted in that office, per se. Run clean elections and efficient business filings and you’ve done everything we ask. Ardoin, we think, is more than sufficient to do those things. And given the dangers of allowing Edwards and his cronies in the door of that office, and what horrors await if the Louisiana Democrat Party were to set hooks into it, that’s more than enough to convince us.
Let’s follow the Buckley Rule. Keep Kyle. It’s important.