Notwithstanding his opposition within the Republican Party, Vitter’s biggest problem stemmed from his connection to the D.C. Madam. His phone number was listed on the call records of the prostitution service. While he admitted to a “serious sin,” Vitter never fully addressed the issue or made a heartfelt apology to the voters of Louisiana. He was also hit by other allegations made by a former New Orleans prostitute who claimed that Vitter was once her regular client. In that case, Vitter completely denied the relationship, but the story became one more controversy connected to the Senator.
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Ironically, after the story was initially revealed, Vitter was able to win re-election to the United States Senate in 2010. Unfortunately for Vitter, he was not so fortunate in 2015 for his opponent in that race, John Bel Edwards, made the prostitution connection the centerpiece of his campaign. Vitter was not able to overcome the controversy and it doomed his chances for victory.
Thus, a Democrat was elected Governor in a very Republican state of Louisiana, but this occurred only because of controversy surrounding the GOP candidate. Edwards prevailed because many Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for him.
In the 2015 election, Edwards ran as a moderate to conservative Democrat. Of course, as Governor, he has not lived up to those expectations. Instead of being a centrist, Edwards has acted as a typical tax and spend liberal. One of his first initiatives was to expand LGBT rights in the state, not a major part of his campaign platform. Needless to say, many of his former supporters are upset and will be looking to support another candidate in 2019.
In Alabama, voters will have to wait until 2020 to replace new U.S. Senator Doug Jones. Like Edwards, Jones ran as a centrist Democrat, although a close examination of his record shows a dyed in the wool liberal on issues such as tax cuts, abortion, gun rights, Obamacare and Common Core.
Jones was able to win because too many voters ignored his record and were only concerned with the controversial allegations against his opponent, Judge Roy Moore. The unsubstantiated allegations of sexual misconduct from 40 years ago did tremendous damage to Moore’s campaign.
He was also harmed by the infighting in the Republican Party. Moore was opposed by the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who threatened to prevent Moore from even being seated. McConnell also promised an ethics investigation of Moore, while withholding precious party contributions from his campaign.
With a united Republican Party leadership against him, it was no surprise that Moore was heavily outspent. He also had to face a completely hostile media who publicized the accusations continuously.
With his defeat, the media is celebrating as are Republican Party leaders. For McConnell and others, the idea of a staunch conservative like Roy Moore in the U.S. Senate made them very uncomfortable. They much preferred another Democrat in the Senate, so they got their wish.
Now, there are only 51 Republican U.S. Senators and the GOP has a very small margin to retain control of the upper body. This loss does not bode well for the implementation of the President’s agenda or the party’s chances of maintaining control of the U.S Congress after the mid-term elections.
While there was proof linking Vitter in some way to the D.C. Madam, there was no proof linking Roy Moore to charges of pedophilia or sexual misconduct. Mere allegations were enough to defeat Moore, so these tactics will be continuously repeated by the Democrats in the future.
The defeat of Moore showed the nation how the Democratic Party’s political playbook can be used in the future. Sexual misconduct allegations, no matter how old and no matter what the evidence, can be used to derail any candidate.
Such tactics can even work in a state like Alabama, which like Louisiana, remains a Republican state, but has just elected a Democrat to statewide office under very unusual circumstances.