Endorsements don’t necessarily equal votes, but when the news hit Monday that Eddie Rispone was taking to the airwaves to attack Ralph Abraham it became pretty obvious that those attacks would backfire from the standpoint of generating endorsements for the Congressman. It’s been an item of understanding throughout Republican Party circles since the debacle of the 2015 gubernatorial election that internecine warfare in the middle of a jungle primary with only one major Democrat opponent is unacceptable, so anyone who broke the truce between Abraham and Rispone would pay a price.
Which Rispone has.
Tuesday morning, State Rep. Alan Seabaugh (R-Shreveport), perhaps the most outspoken of the state’s conservative legislators, took his place at the head of the parade…
Seabaugh was joined by another Shreveport legislator, newly-minted Rep.-elect Thomas Pressly, who ran unopposed to fill the seat vacated by the term-limited Thomas Carmody…
Then, this morning, came a pair of congressional delegation endorsements. Rep. Clay Higgins of the Third District announced his endorsement…
Congressman Clay Higgins has endorsed Ralph Abraham to be the next Governor of Louisiana.
“It has become clear. The path to recovery for Louisiana has now been illuminated. Ralph Abraham is a solid conservative, a dependable ally to President Trump, a very, very good man… and he is my friend. Ralph is the righteous candidate. He will defeat John Bel Edwards and the liberal machine. He will bring jobs and economic growth back to Louisiana. We, the People of Louisiana need Ralph Abraham as our next Governor. He is my Brother. He has my full support.” – Congressman Clay Higgins
“Clay Higgins is not just a close friend, he’s a patriot and a fighter for Louisiana. I’m honored to have his support and endorsement. Louisiana is dying under this Governor. Conservatives from every corner of the state are joining our cause because I am the candidate who can defeat John Bel Edwards and put Louisiana Families First.” – Ralph Abraham, leading Republican candidate for Louisiana Governor
Those followed a quite forceful endorsement of Abraham by conservative radio host Moon Griffon, whose program is heard in markets throughout the state…
It’s still a trickle of endorsements, but it threatens to become a flood. Word is there is a good bit of discussion within the top ranks of the state GOP over what to do – perhaps even including dropping its co-endorsement of Rispone for violating his pledge not to attack Abraham. It isn’t set in stone that this will happen, but it is worth noting that Rispone’s attack on Abraham put the party, and its chairman Louis Gurvich, in a lousy position.
Because Gurvich made it a point to repeatedly preach the crucial importance of Republicans not falling out among each other this cycle as they did in 2015, and securing that pledge from the two candidates was a key piece in his strategy not to repeat that debacle. When Rispone violated it, it became a threat to the chairman’s authority.
Now, the state GOP doesn’t have a history of iron-handed governance of Republican politicians. Far from it. And that’s not, as we understand it, Gurvich’s aim. He is, however, charged with keeping some semblance of order within the Louisiana GOP, and most observers credit him for making some improvements in doing so. The Republicans did a very good job with candidate recruitment in this cycle and managed to steer a few loose cannons away from some races where they might have caused chaos. The party has also begun building programs which are assets to candidates it endorses – data modeling, get-out-the-vote apps and so forth – which it never had before.
Much of that is for naught if its candidates ignore its rules and get away with doing so. Which means Gurvich is going to have to impose some consequences on Rispone, something he and many of the party’s key members would not have preferred to do. Don’t be surprised if there is some sort of public rebuke released soon, perhaps with a demand that the anti-Abraham attack be taken down.