Some Of These Campaigns In Louisiana Really Need To Do Better Than This

We’ve talked about a few of these cases individually here and there, but there seems to be an epidemic going around of some truly bad – comically bad – politicking in Louisiana this cycle. And while none of the malefactors appear to be in a position to get rewarded for their errors, mistakes like these probably ought to be pointed out so the public doesn’t get subjected to them again.

The most important one, though perhaps the least basic of them, is this business of 5th Congressional District candidate Scotty Robertson, a police juror in Ouachita Parish, running his campaign on a narrative that people are trying to buy him out of the race and get him to support Luke Letlow, who appears to be the frontrunner over state representative Lance Harris. We talked about this issue not long ago at the site…

And then there’s Scotty Robertson, the Ouachita Parish Police Juror, who a couple of weeks ago put this message out essentially accusing Letlow of trying to buy him out of the race…

Nowhere in that Rob Maness-esque “I can’t be bought” video does Robertson attribute this alleged offer to Letlow; it’s “supporters.”

But a couple of things might be said here, because we aren’t fans of this “they offered to pay me to get out of the race” protestation.

First of all, if you’re running for something that makes you a politician. Understand this: if you’re a politician, nobody cares about your problems. Really. Politics is a dirty, nasty racket and at the high end of it is the ability to hold power over your fellow man. Anybody who’s actually outraged over shenanigans that politicians do to each other that have zero effect on policy or anything that affects the rest of our lives needs his head examined.

Second, when a politician does one of these statements defiantly calling out somebody else’s camp for trying to induce him to get out of a race, it means one thing and one thing only – he’s losing, badly, he’s out of money and he probably ought to take whatever is offered and get out of the race.

Whining about those offers isn’t great form. It doesn’t make you Jimmy Stewart; it makes you Don Quixote.

That isn’t a particular slam on Robertson. By what we hear he might well have a future in politics. But this isn’t one of his finer moments.

Is he lying about these offers? We wouldn’t imagine he is. But here’s the thing – trying to get people out of a race and/or securing their endorsement is what politicians do all the time. You could make the case it isn’t ethical, but whatever. It’s the way of the world.

Having not gotten the response he was looking for, Robertson then decided to double down on this narrative…

After previously deciding not to name names, Ouachita Parish Police Juror Scotty Robinson last week claimed an area bank president and pastor reached out to him on behalf of 5th District congressional candidate Luke Letlow’s campaign to lure him into exiting the congressional race.

Robinson made those claims in a letter he says was mailed as a formal complaint to the Federal Election Commission, a government agency tasked with enforcing federal campaign finance laws.

Robinson, a Republican from West Monroe, and Letlow, a Republican from Start, are among nine candidates in the race to succeed Congressman Ralph Abraham, who chose not to seek re-election. Letlow served as Abraham’s chief of staff for nearly six years.

As reported earlier this month, Robinson published a video on Facebook claiming Letlow’s campaign was trying to “buy him out” of the race. At the time, Robinson declined to identify two of the three people who allegedly reached out to him on Letlow’s behalf. The third person, Heath Hattaway, a Ruston attorney, told this newspaper that he reached out to Robinson in June 2019, at Letlow’s urging, to offer the police juror a job with the state if he would stay out of the race.

In this newspaper’s Sept. 9 news report, Letlow’s campaign denied the allegations Robinson stated in his video as well as the account given by Hattaway. In a statement on Sept. 17, Letlow told KNOE TV8 News the allegations were “categorically baseless and slanderous.” Letlow hinted his campaign might take “legal action” against Robinson if the police juror persisted in claiming he was being enticed to drop out of the race.

In his letter to the FEC last week, Robinson identified the two people he said had conveyed offers from Letlow to reward Robinson if he were to exit the race: Bill Hogan, president at Century Next Bank and a Letlow campaign donor, and Monroe Pastor Tommy Lester, who is one of Robinson’s supporters.

Letlow’s camp continues to maintain their hands are clean in all this.

For the rest of us, here’s something we can pass along: we don’t care.

We say here at The Hayride that if you’re a politician, nobody cares about your problems. And whining that somebody who’s better funded, has more support and is more likely to win might be sending intermediaries to attempt to buy you out of a race is quite possibly the apex of “politician problems” nobody cares about.

What Scotty Robertson is screaming from rooftops is that he has no money and less support than Letlow, to such an extent that by his own admission his own friends and supporters are trying to broker deals to get him out of the race.

A quick clue: this is not a winning message. On behalf of the voters of the 5th District, which admittedly is not where The Hayride’s physical location can be found, no one cares about Scotty Robertson’s problems. Speak to the problems of the voters, and do it in a more compelling fashion than Letlow or Harris are doing, and then nobody will be trying to buy you out of the race.

If he’s being approached, maybe part of the reason is that the word got out a while ago that Robertson ran up a bill with a well-respected political consulting firm that he couldn’t pay this summer, and that consulting firm dropped him as a client. For most candidates, getting into that kind of trouble in the middle of a campaign is a good signal that if somebody offers to buy you out of the race they’re giving you a lifeline and doing you a favor, not insulting you.

But Robertson isn’t the only Republican in the 5th District race we’re less than impressed by. Meet Matthew Hasty…

Bitching at news outlets who aren’t covering you isn’t how you get coverage. They call it “earned media” for a reason. This is a campaign that never bothered to send out a single press prelease, didn’t hold an event, didn’t put out a position paper with any circulation, hasn’t announced an endorsement, and, as we said in our response, didn’t put out a campaign finance report.

The standard if you’re going to run for Congress is it’s a million-dollar race. Even in a small-town district like LA-5 you’re going to end up spending close to a million bucks. Not putting out a campaign finance report means you’re breaking election laws unless you’ve raised less than $5,000.

Nobody wins a congressional seat with less than $5,000. If you can’t open a snowball stand for less than $5,000 where do you get the idea you’re a serious congressional candidate with less than $5,000?

We have nothing against Hasty. Or Robertson, for that matter. But guys, you’re doing it wrong.

They aren’t alone. By all indications Jerry Smith, who’s running for a judgeship in Jefferson Parish, is a serious candidate. But this is one of the funnier, and less forgivable, bloopers we’ve seen a campaign make…

Do you see it?

You can’t have a typo like that in the largest font the mail piece displays. But if you’re going to have such a typo, it is far better if the result is gibberish than that it converts the word you’re attempting to spell into a different word with a much different meaning.

Because there is such an occupation as a prosector. And no, it does not qualify one to be a judge.

prosector is a person with the special task of preparing a dissection for demonstration, usually in medical schools or hospitals. Many important anatomists began their careers as prosectors working for lecturers and demonstrators in anatomy and pathology.

The act of prosecting differs from that of dissecting. A prosection is a professionally prepared dissection prepared by a prosector – a person who is well versed in anatomy and who therefore prepares a specimen so that others may study and learn anatomy from it. A dissection is prepared by a student who is dissecting the specimen for the purpose of learning more about the anatomical structures pertaining to that specimen. The term dissection may also be used to describe the act of cutting. Therefore, a prosector dissects to prepare a prosection.

You don’t want to pay your campaign donors’ money to send out a mail piece telling people that you’re experienced in slicing cadavers open so other people can peek inside. Not when you’re running for judge.

Errors like that need to get caught if you’re going to run.

So far as we know, Smith’s opponent Chick Foret hasn’t filed a complaint against him for this mail piece accusing him of false advertising. This would not be a surprise.

Then there’s another example which pains us, because when John Mason was running last year against Polly Thomas for a state legislative seat in Jefferson Parish, he wrote a number of really quite good blog posts here at The Hayride talking about things Louisiana can do better. Mason has since debuted a radio show in the New Orleans market that we understand is quite good.

But he’s running against Eric Skrmetta for the Public Service Commission now, and we understand Mason had what can only be described as an off-night on Wednesday at a Republican women’s event in St. Tammany Parish.

Skrmetta had another engagement in Kenner, and his wife Debbie spoke in his place at the St. Tammany event, after which Mason chided the commissioner for his inattention to the group by sending his “pretty little wife” as a surrogate. Mason then proceeded to talk about his relationship with his mother.

We heard about this from people who were there. The reaction was…less than complimentary.

Most of this is obvious, but the one lesson we’re going to pull from it is that if you’re a single guy you can run for political office and win. That’s been done. It isn’t optimal, but it’s been done.

What you can’t do is talk about your mom a lot on the campaign trail. For two reasons.

First of all, people will have a tough time putting Adam Sandler’s character from The Waterboy out of their minds. And second of all, you’re trying to get elected to a position of serious responsibility, and that means you need to present yourself as somebody worthy and capable of it.

You don’t want folks thinking you aren’t capable of an equal relationship with a woman. It’s the wrong way to go. Obviously that’s not what Mason’s going for, and we certainly aren’t saying that’s an accurate description of him. We’re just saying he’s going to want to do better than this.

So far, all of our bumbling campaigns are Republicans, but they’re not the only ones stepping on rakes. Take Joe Marino, a state representative from Jefferson Parish’s West Bank who’s running for judge. Marino, who lists himself as an independent but leans a lot more Democrat, is a criminal defense lawyer, and he was involved heavily in the criminal justice reform package passed back in 2017.

There’s a New Orleans-area organization called Crime Fighters which is run by a former NOPD cop named Irv Magri. Magri had been a vocal opponent of the criminal justice reform plan and had debated Marino on the subject.

But there were members of the organization who nevertheless were pushing against it endorsing Marino’s opponent Nelson Cantrelle.

Until Marino showed up to speak to the group. When he did, he broke the cardinal rule of campaigning, which is never to get into a heated debate with the widow of a murder victim about crime.

Yep. That’s what happened, and we’re told it got awfully uncomfortable in there.

The way you handle that is to be as empathetic as possible, and tell the widow you feel her pain, and say that as a judge you will make sure that the rights of victims’ families take top priority in how you handle cases. And then you shut up.

You don’t win arguments on crime with murder widows. Really. You never do. Not surprisingly, Cantrelle picked up the endorsement.



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