Last night WAFB-TV Channel 9 in Baton Rouge had a fun little report on the Senate race this fall in which John Kennedy is running for re-election. What sparked it was a fundraising email Kennedy sent out to his donor list which on the surface sounded like he’s hitting the panic button…
Republican U.S. Senator John Kennedy says he’s in trouble because his opponent, Democrat Gary Chambers, is allegedly carrying all the momentum when it comes to campaign contributions. But is this true, or does the incumbent have something else up his sleeve?
Emails from Sen. Kennedy have been flooding inboxes lately. The latest coming out this morning. According to Kennedy’s emails, Baton Rouge activist Chambers is carrying all the momentum when it comes to campaign finances. But considering Kennedy has roughly $14 million in his campaign war chest, that may seem hard to believe.
“John Kennedy is on cruise control. He will not be defeated in 2022 unless an unusual thing happens in the next five months,” said political analyst Jim Engster.
Someone close to the Kennedy campaign tells me today, quote “Kennedy’s radical opponent raised nearly $600,000 in one month and attracted 14,000 donors out of the gate. Make no mistake, the woke establishment is behind him.”
“Chambers is a flamboyant guy, he’s good on television, he has a message, he finds a way to get attention, lots of attention, and he has a movement that will go well beyond this campaign,” Engster continued.
Kennedy’s email said Chambers is beating him like a rented mule. If you got that email and you weren’t paying attention it might be enough to scare the hell out of you.
But it’s a complete load of crap, and an entertaining load of crap at that. Kennedy’s pulled in almost $23 million to date, while Chambers has raised $1.1 million – a very impressive total given who Chambers is and what his chances to win are, to be sure. Meanwhile Kennedy has $14 million in the bank and Chambers has just under $500,000.
Gary Chambers isn’t raising enough money to beat John Kennedy. Nor is there any danger of Chambers taking Kennedy to a runoff.
So why did this story even make the airwaves?
Because Kennedy wants it to, that’s why.
If you’re John Kennedy, you don’t want this race to be seen as some ho-hum, uncompetitive thing. You want Gary Chambers to be some sort of Michael Myers or Grendel, the frightening monster or villain Kennedy can save the people from with a heroic effort. That looks good for Kennedy, it looks good for conservatism, and it looks good for the Republican Party.
So you build Chambers up as the avatar of the modern woke Left and then you run against that, so when people reject it and come out in droves for you it comes off exceedingly well.
Pretty basic stuff, actually, and you can’t blame Kennedy for hyping it that way.
But here’s what got missed with the WAFB report last night. You do know there’s another candidate in the race, right? And yet Luke “The Alpaca” Mixon was completely ignored in that report. They didn’t even mention his name.
The thing to remember about Mixon is that he’s the candidate the old-line Bourbon Democrat establishment, personified by John Bel Edwards and his little machine on the Fourth Floor of the state capitol, went out and recruited for this race. Richard Carbo, Edwards’ erstwhile political guru, found Mixon and ran him.
And Mixon has raised just enough money to pay Carbo. That’s about it.
He’s not going to break 10 percent in the November primary, at least not at this rate. Chambers is going to get triple Mixon’s vote, maybe more. And Kennedy will easily top 50 percent.
What this means is something we’ve been talking about, which WAFB didn’t mention in their report. Which is that Edwards might be the last white Democrat to be relevant in Louisiana politics for a long time. Right now it’s pretty clear Mixon isn’t, and if they could have found somebody with more gravitas than an airline pilot who’d never even run for the school board to run against Kennedy they would have.
And there is nobody out there on the horizon for 2023 who looks like a good candidate as a white Democrat, though given the history of Louisiana’s gubernatorial elections you can never be sure about such forecasts. Louisiana has a long and forgettable history of electing dark horse candidates for governor and then suffering the consequences when they abjectly stink at the job.
Edwards being the most recent example.
Still, a healthy political establishment would have a number of candidates lined up for the big races. And that Bourbon Democrat mob does not. Chambers can’t beat Kennedy, but he can beat them, and badly. The question isn’t so much, as WAFB presented in their piece last night, what Kennedy does with all that excess campaign cash. It’s what Gary Chambers does when he’s established himself as the new standard-bearer of the Louisiana Democrat Party when this race is over.