Earlier today Jeff Sadow had a post predicting Bill Cassidy is going to win easy re-election to the Senate, largely because the Democrats don’t have anybody who can beat him. Jeff is pretty much spot on there; Cassidy is going to walk in for another term, as he should. He’s done a good job as Louisiana’s senior senator, and he’s demonstrated not only a conservative record but a willingness to work with the other side on good policy ideas, rather than bad ones, particularly in the area of health care. In his next term we predict Cassidy is going to break through and pass some truly important legislation bringing market solutions to some of the failings of the current half-socialized and over-regulated medical sector.
Accordingly, at the first of the year Cassidy was sitting on a war chest of $5.3 million. Nobody in the Democrat Party in Louisiana can raise that kind of money to run against him. John Bel Edwards probably could, but Edwards is a lot more likely to take a shot at John Kennedy in 2022 for the latter’s Senate seat than to run this year.
That leaves the Democrats with a sad-sack declared candidate in Antoine Pierce, a community organizer from Baton Rouge who got drilled the last time he ran for anything – that was in 2016 when he ran against Buddy Amoroso for the Baton Rouge Metro Council and lost a 66-23 decision in the primary. Pierce is running on all the typical Hard Left/Democratic Socialist issues: Medicare for all, ending “voter suppression,” canceling student debt, subsidizing wind and solar power and “Ending Citizens United.” Blah, blah, blah.
Nobody is going to vote for Antoine Pierce. He’s another Derrick Edwards or Gwen Collins-Greenup. He’d get the black vote, but that’s it, and a Cassidy-Pierce race is a 65-35 wipeout or something similar.
But there was a rumor we heard a couple of weeks ago which we found far more entertaining, though we haven’t seen any real evidence it’ll become an actual thing. That was the possibility that Karen Carter Peterson, the Louisiana Democrat Party chairwoman and state senator made irrelevant by last year’s legislative elections in which Republicans now hold 27 of 39 seats in that body, might get into the race.
Peterson doesn’t have a whole lot of money. In the campaign finance report she filed on Monday with the state ethics board Peterson only claimed $1,475 in her campaign account. Of course, that’s a state campaign account, not a federal one. She has run a federal race, though; Peterson came in second to Bill Jefferson in a 2006 congressional race, just a little bit before Jefferson got pinched by the feds for bribery and had to go to the fun house. That year she raised $1.3 million, which was a pretty respectable figure for a state legislator running against an incumbent.
Peterson is a bit bigger name now, seeing as though she’s the chair of that party. And while we aren’t predicting that rumor will come true, at least not yet, there are reasons to speculate she might get in.
First, it’s a free shot. Peterson was re-elected to the state senate seat she holds last year. She wouldn’t have to give up that seat to run against Cassidy.
Second, a run against Cassidy would give her national relevance. We’re told she wants to be a national vice-committeewoman within the Democrat National Committee; while that possibility makes us double over with laughter, if she’s going to make a bid for that position then carrying the Democrats’ standard against Cassidy would be a way to demonstrate she’s at least willing to take a bullet for the party.
Third, we’ve also heard Peterson could well be on the outs as the Democrats’ state party chair because Edwards wants her gone. This has to do with a couple of things which are trouble for the Dems right now; race and ideology. Peterson is as Hard Left as they come, and she’s one of these people who will bring wacko socialist legislation and then accuse its opponents of being racist. For all of Edwards’ sins, that is not the way he operates (not that he won’t drop the race card at his own convenience, of course; we’ve seen that before); he tries as hard as he can to cast himself as a centrist.
But there is a rift in the Louisiana Democrat Party between the center-left trial-lawyer-dominated white folks, who have all of the money in the party, and the black community, who are the large majority of the party’s voters and also most of its elected officials. The white trial lawyer types, of which Edwards is the epitome, have controlled the party since there was a state of Louisiana, but they don’t have the numbers and the blacks are itching to take it over; and rightly so. If Peterson were to step up as a Senate candidate, she probably would be relinquishing her position as party chair – but she would be in a lot stronger position vis-a-vis Edwards to dictate who her replacement would be. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see someone like Ted James or Katrina Jackson take over.
It might even be a move for Edwards’ camp to push Peterson as a Senate candidate; if she did run and Edwards was in position to select the next party chair, this would be a way for her to save face upon her ouster. Outwardly, everybody is on the same page. Edwards might even do some work to raise money for Peterson. She would certainly be in a position to demand it.
A Peterson-Cassidy race would be the perfect thing to make Louisiana’s elections this fall worth watching. We already know Donald Trump is going to abjectly pummel whoever the Democrats’ nominee for president is going to be, and none of the congressional races are shaping up to be competitive. Other than the Baton Rouge mayor-president race, which hasn’t taken shape yet, this is the only chance for any sort of drama in this fall’s elections around here.
Which isn’t to say Peterson could beat Cassidy. She’d get crushed. But she would at least generate a little bit of heat before Election Night, and if the Democrats aren’t even willing to contest these federal races, why are they here?