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Thursday, 12 February 2015 11:11
Caldwell shows surprising weakness, Landry strength for Louisiana AG
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Louisiana capitolLouisiana’s Treasurer John Kennedy found a tough decision of his made somewhat harder by impressive fundraising totals by attorney general candidate former Rep. Jeff Landry, while the incumbent Atty. Gen. Buddy Caldwell by his totals shows he faces a tough road to reelection, increasing the odds of just he and Landry facing off.


Caldwell raised only around $39,000 for 2014 while Landry scooped up nearly three-quarters of a million bucks. Landry also loaned himself almost $100,000 more than the roughly $300,000 Caldwell has in his entire account. His contribution haul topped that of the unannounced candidate Kennedy’s – who obviously ponders entering the contest since he went to the trouble of polling it with his name in it – by some thousands, although Kennedy’s many years in his current office have allowed him the chance to build a campaign warchest three times the size of Landry’s and over 10 times larger than Caldwell’s.

Two points of significance emerge from these numbers posted by these Republicans. One is that, while no means uncompetitive, Caldwell shows surprising weakness. An incumbent should do better in fundraising without having to depend upon most of his meager total coming from one side of one case on which his department’s actions favor. This reflects Kennedy’s polling, where Caldwell pulled just one-sixth of the intended vote while Kennedy topped it at almost a quarter of the electorate. Some 300 grand is nothing to sneeze at, but that Landry has lapped him almost four times indicates not a lot of faith at this point in Caldwell.

In Kennedy’s poll, Landry drew only a tenth of the vote while a longshot-as-a-candidate but quality Democrat Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy came in slightly ahead of Caldwell. This, and secondly, signals the real danger for the incumbent, a race with these dynamics, for a Democrat of any real ability will siphon too many votes from the left from him and finish ahead of him, while a conservative can go over the top of him also and shut him out of the runoff. Even if Kennedy doesn’t run, this scenario puts him in worse difficulty, as most of Kennedy’s putative vote would head Landry’s way.

And Kennedy’s passing on it is beginning to look more likely. Despite his demonstrated interest in attorney general, he wouldn’t have to risk a cakewalk win as treasurer if he abjures it – which his current office is where the action increasingly looks to be as budgetary difficulties shine a brighter light on activities of the treasurer, who (of which Kennedy has taken full advantage in recent years) has the luxury of sniping at perceived policy shortcomings and proposing solutions without having to take any responsibility for their consequences. Further, that could provide better launching pad for a potential rerun for the Senate in 2016 if Sen. David Vitter were to win the gubernatorial contest this year, not only in terms of heightened publicity but also in not having to run two bruising campaigns within the space of two years. Finally, that Landry showed such impressive fundraising acumen tells Kennedy that an AG race win might be more difficult than he figured.

If Kennedy defers, then Caldwell’s only path to victory at present has just him and Landry as the only two major candidates. This way, he could hope to hang onto a portion of the GOP vote and grab the majority of those prone to vote for Democrats to make a majority. But this transforms into the most disastrous outcome if a quality Democrat ends up running, splitting the Democrat vote and likely condemning Caldwell at best to third place in the general election.

These totals show Landry means business and Caldwell has tepid support at best. They encourage the contest to end up heads up between the two, which makes the most optimistic reading of Caldwell’s reelection presently as uncertain.

Agree or disagree?  Tell us below

Jeffrey Sadow

Jeffrey Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University in Shreveport.   He writes a daily conservative blog called Between The Lines

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