Yes, The Congressional Delegation Is Pulling Its Weight In The LAGOV Race

We’ve heard this over and over again this cycle, and we had intended not to get involved in the question – but at some point certain things do need to be said. And what needs to be said now is that people need to lay off Louisiana’s congressional delegation, particularly the Republicans, over the question of whether they’re doing enough to help the Republican candidates for governor.

Of late, it’s rare that we have disagreements with Moon Griffon, who has been the loudest voice castigating the delegation for not pitching in to help Ralph Abraham and Eddie Rispone, but on this he’s wrong. And it’s not completely his fault that he’s wrong, because there’s an intervening party here which has inflamed this situation into a perceived problem. We’ll get to that. A few weeks ago, Griffon stoked this up by hammering away at the delegation for failing to get involved in the election…

That ruffled a lot of feathers and got some folks hot under the collar, for a couple of reasons.

First, as most of the delegation will tell you, the governor’s race is not their race. These guys have jobs to do, and these days Capitol Hill is essentially Thunderdome. It’s all they can do to survive that battlefield while attempting to get actual things done for their constituents, much less come home to play politics with a race they’re not a candidate in.

If and when there’s a runoff, then yes – the calculus changes. But what are we expecting here? Are we expecting members of Congress to come home from D.C. and stump for Republican candidates? First of all, for that not to be exceedingly weird they have to actually endorse either Abraham or Rispone; otherwise, what are they going to do? Do an event for one in the morning and another in the afternoon? And say what? “Hey, vote for this guy…or the other guy! Your call!” Who even wants that speech given at his rally?

The only member of the delegation who’s made a specific endorsement in the race is Clay Higgins, who has publicly backed Ralph Abraham. He announced that on Griffon’s show shortly after the latter beat the delegation up over their supposed lack of support, and a few days ago Higgins released this video in support of Abraham…

But Higgins isn’t the only member of the delegation who has pitched in to help one or both of the GOP candidates. A week ago here at The Hayride, Mike Johnson wrote what can best be termed the magnum opus on the subject of why John Bel Edwards cannot be re-elected as governor of Louisiana. That was an absolute chapter-and-verse takedown of Edwards and anybody who reads it cannot come away with the idea that re-electing this governor is a good move for Louisiana.

Johnson didn’t endorse Abraham, though he was considering doing so and, we’re told, came under some intense pressure to do so. The problem is, Abraham is short of cash and Rispone isn’t, and depending on what poll you’re looking at Rispone might actually be more likely to make the runoff than Abraham.

Nobody likes the attack ads Rispone launched against Abraham. Every member of the delegation we talked to was uncomfortable with those, even if they thought politically it might have been a wise thing to do. But they’re all in the position that if Rispone makes the runoff and Abraham doesn’t, and they’ve lined up behind Abraham, they look foolish. And neither has separated himself from the other, so it’s a complete toss-up of a call.

Politicians don’t like toss-ups. Especially when for most of the delegation, they have connections with both candidates. They serve with Abraham, and Rispone has been a generous donor to their own campaigns plus all the causes they champion.

Johnson’s treatise on Edwards’ horrendous record has been shared some 4,000 times on social media, which is a pretty good number. But despite the fact he sent out the link as a press release, virtually nobody in the state’s legacy media picked up on it. It’s undoubtedly newsworthy, but there was fairly complete radio silence about it.

Which isn’t a surprise, and it’s probably the reason this narrative of the delegation not supporting the GOP candidates was able to grow anyway.

After all, Garret Graves spent the entire August recess going around to speaking engagements throughout his district, and he gave a speech which tore into John Bel Edwards’ terrible record as governor and lamented the blown opportunities in the Trump economy and the things a competent governor could have done to take advantage of various things the federal government had to offer. It’s not a partisan bromide so much as it is a factual presentation of the deficiencies in the governor’s mansion, and we have video of Graves giving it…

That particular speech was given at the Baton Rouge Press Club, and yet there was no report about the “partisan attack” Graves gave to Edwards’ record or anything of the sort. It was largely ignored. Just like Johnson’s article was largely ignored.

Steve Scalise has made a number of statements critical of John Bel Edwards, and those have been ignored.

The media can’t ignore John Kennedy. Earlier this year Kennedy hammered Edwards several times, and there was concern he was overshadowing the two Republican contenders. So he stopped. Kennedy is back with a video exhorting Republicans to get out and vote…

The point is the delegation is not the problem. The media is certainly a problem.

But, and this needs to be understood, the campaigns are a problem. Neither one has done a good job of getting out a message mobilizing voters behind its candidate. Rispone has had more than enough money to deluge the marketplace with TV spots, and most of those have been tone deaf. He has a new ad out which is a real tearjerker…

Well, all right. What that has to do with beating John Bel Edwards, we have no clue. There is no showing that Edwards has been particularly lenient on illegals in Louisiana – such a showing can certainly be made, but Rispone’s camp hasn’t made it. So how is the topic of illegal aliens supposed to move votes his way?

Abraham’s messaging hasn’t been as tone deaf, but there’s a whole lot less of it because he doesn’t have any money. So his camp, of late, has been all about gathering endorsements and trying to make voters see him as the guy who’ll be in the runoff with Edwards. If that pans out, his coffers will start to fill up and most of his problems – not all, but most – will start to go away. But when Rispone is all over the airwaves and Abraham isn’t, and when there are more attack ads airing on Abraham than Abraham has his own ads appearing, it starts to become a question whether he can hold on to second place if he hasn’t already lost it.

And given that reality, it’s an awfully big ask that the congressional delegation ride in and save the day. They don’t even know whose day they’re saving.

There is a real concern, though we would bet against it happening, that Edwards might hit 50 percent when the votes are counted Oct. 12. In the event that does happen, it won’t be the delegation’s fault for not speaking loudly enough. That will be on these two campaigns. Hopefully we won’t have to conduct that analysis two Sundays from now.

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