Tuesday, 21 September 2010 17:17

Race For Louisiana Congress Seat, It’s Obama vs. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Normand

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jeffcrouereIn Louisiana, President Barack Obama has an approval rating of 36 percent, according to the recent Southern Media and Opinion Research poll. This is below his anemic 44 percent national approval rating. Not surprisingly, Democratic Senate candidate U.S. Congressman Charlie Melancon (D-Napoleonville) is not searching for Obama’s endorsement. However, in the 2nd congressional district, which has a large majority of African American voters, Obama is still quite popular, so his endorsement is coveted. Last week, Obama gave his endorsement to State Representative Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) who won the Democratic primary and is challenging incumbent U.S. Congressman Joseph Cao (R-New Orleans).

The President followed up his endorsement with an e-mail imploring his supporters in the district to volunteer for Richmond’s campaign. Obama asked loyal Democrats to do more than just vote for Richmond. He asked them to make phone calls, canvass and go the extra mile to keep the seat in the Democratic Party column.

 This was not the type of response Congressman Cao was hoping for from President Obama. Over the past twenty months, Cao has been Obama’s favorite Republican in Congress. He has supported much of the President’s legislative agenda, including the controversial financial reform package. On that vote and several others, Cao has been one of only a handful of Republicans to support the President’s legislation. In return, Cao has been invited to the White House on numerous occasions and has been recognized by the President at speeches and news conferences. However, he is a Republican and if re-elected, he will cast a vote for Republican John Boehner as Speaker of the House.


In this election cycle, Democrats are in danger of losing their majority, so the party is targeting Cao’s district as a takeover possibility. Therefore, the Democrats are pulling out all the stops, including the President’s endorsement, to defeat Cao in November,


In his endorsement statement, Obama said he looks forward to “working with Cedric in the next Congress because he believes in our shared agenda of increasing access to quality, affordable healthcare and investing in job creation.” The President also claimed that the 2nd congressional district needs “a Democrat like Cedric to fight alongside us.”


Richmond touted the endorsement as “huge news” and “one hell” of a birthday present. He also blasted Cao as a congressman who “represents the Republican Party in Washington DC, not the people of New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.”


While Cao did not receive the endorsement of the President, he did garner the nod from the Alliance for Good Government, which held their forum at Loyola University. This is Cao’s second endorsement in a row from the respected political organization.


In addition, yesterday, Cao received his most important endorsement when Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand announced his support for the incumbent congressman. Normand complimented Cao for securing $4 million in funding for local law enforcement agencies. According to Normand, "I like this guy. I like what he stands for. I like that there are no false pretenses. The reality is that the concern is genuine.”


With Normand’s endorsement, Cao will also receive support from many of the employees in the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. This will give Cao a significant boost in Jefferson Parish, which accounts for approximately 30 percent of the 2nd congressional district. Along with Normand, Cao also picked up the endorsement of the police chiefs of Kenner and Harahan.


These endorsements show that Cao is working hard lining up major political support and his chances should not be discounted. He has been underestimated before, and Richmond would be wise not to make that mistake in this election.

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].


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