In response, Abraham said that “It’s sad that my Republican opponent felt like his only option was to create an ad full of baseless personal attacks that he knows aren’t true. This is the literal playbook that allowed John Bel to be elected four years ago. I’m sure his out-of-state consultants told him that he was so far behind he had to do this to win, regardless of what it could mean for our state.”
This marks the first time that either Republican candidate had attacked each other in this campaign. Clearly, Scalise and other Republicans, such as Louisiana GOP Chairman Louis Gurvich, are not happy. According to Scalise, “I don’t want to see a replay of four years ago.”
In the 2015 campaign, Republicans attacked each other in the primary election, and, in the run-off, there was no unified support for the GOP candidate, then United States Senator David Vitter. In 2015, the main beneficiary of the intraparty fight was incumbent Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.
While Vitter was a candidate with a scandalous association with the D.C. madam, this election features GOP gubernatorial candidates who are not touched by any type of personal controversies.
Despite a lack of scandalous material to use, the political action committee supporting Governor Edwards has been attacking both Rispone and Abraham in a constant barrage of television commercials. If necessary, Edwards will be happy to join in on the attacks against the GOP candidates. In 2015, he raised the prostitution issue against Vitter in a devastating television commercial that was extremely effective.
Recent polls by Verne Kennedy and Bernie Pinsonat show a race that Edwards may win the Governor’s in the primary election. In both polls, Edwards has over 50% support when the undecided vote is allocated.
Despite the bleak poll numbers, Scalise believes that “we’re going to win this race.” He outlined the reasons he believes that Edwards is vulnerable. According to Scalise, in Louisiana, “we have the highest sales tax in the nation. Trial lawyers are running jobs out of the state right now with their lawsuits against oil and gas companies of all things. That’s where the focus should be.” Well said Congressman Scalise.
It will take a concerted effort by the entire Louisiana Republican Party network of candidates and organizations to deny Edwards an outright victory on October 12. All Republicans need to concentrate their energies on highlighting the poor record of Governor Edwards, not on criticizing each other. As in 2015, only John Bel Edwards benefits when Republicans attack each other.
From the controversial passage of “criminal justice reform” legislation that released thousands of dangerous prisoners on to the streets of Louisiana to the Governor’s tax and spend policies to his Medicaid expansion littered with millions of dollars of fraud, John Bel Edwards is clearly susceptible to the right type of coordinated political campaign. With an effective strategy, Republicans can win.
Will Republicans learn the lessons of four years ago or will the state be saddled with four more years of John Bel Edwards as Governor?
Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, “Ringside Politics,” airs locally at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and at 10:00 p.m. Sundays on PBS affiliate WLAE-TV, Channel 32, and from 7-11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & www.Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America's Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on www.JeffCrouere.com. For more information, email him at [email protected]