In this election cycle, he was all over the state promoting his slate of candidates, such as Billy Nungesser in the Lt. Governor’s race and Jim Tucker in the Secretary of State’s race. Vitter also worked with a group called the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority, which targeted five House Democrats and three State Senate races. In all of these key races, Vitter and company lost.
The results show that Vitter has limited coattails and voters are more interested in the Senator focusing on his work on Capitol Hill.
The whole effort was almost unprecedented and harkened back to the days of Huey Long, when the Kingfish tried to dominate the entire political landscape in Louisiana.
In this election, analysts speculated that Vitter may have been trying to elect a loyal team who will be supportive if he runs for Governor in 2015.
With Jindal term limited, the next Governor’s race will be a wide open affair with a variety of strong candidates. Some of the potential candidates include Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne and State Treasurer John Kennedy.
There is also a chance that Jindal may leave office early to pursue a Senate race against Mary Landrieu in 2014 or to take a cabinet position in a Republican administration. If that happens, Lt. Governor Dardenne will complete his term and run as the incumbent Governor in 2015, having the inside track.
While Jindal promised voters he would complete his term as Governor, few believe he will turn down a better opportunity. So, this Lt. Governor’s race was even more important than usual. It attracted Vitter’s attention and he pulled out all the stops to elect his friend Billy Nungesser.
By defeating the tag team of Nungesser and Vitter, Dardenne scored an impressive victory, which means he has won three statewide races in the last five years, each time defeating well-funded opponents.
In 2006, he was elected Secretary of State, beating former GOP State Party Chairman Mike Francis and State Senator Francis Heitmeier. In the 2010 Lt. Governor’s race, he defeated well-funded newcomer, attorney Caroline Fayard.
This election was the most difficult one for Dardenne because there was such an onslaught of negative campaign commercials. He was blasted on TV and radio and called everything from a liberal supporter of illegal immigration to a tax and spend socialist.
Dardenne was being attacked from all sides, including robo calls by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. It was very odd for a Christian conservative leader like Perkins (who supported Vitter last year) to be calling on behalf of Nungesser, who was accused of being a 20 year client of the Canal Street Madam. It seems the old adage was certainly true in this election; politics does indeed make strange bedfellows.
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected]
Watch exclusive Bayoubuzz video showcasing the moment that Jay Dardenne discovered he had won the election
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