Charlie Melancon is not a bad candidate at all. Other than, perhaps, Mitch Landrieu, he is the best the Democrats could have fielded this election cycle. Vitter is currently ahead of Melancon because he has been able to run on the “red meat” and “hot button” words and images that stir up the emotions of the many conservative voters in Louisiana in this very conservative year.
Those words have been: Obama, Pelosi, Harry Reid, Health care, big government, stimulus, deficit, trial attorneys, illegal aliens, moratorium, TARP, Who Dats, cap-and-trade, town hall meetings and taxes.
By comparison, the words Melancon has been able to gain some mileage so far, yet clearly not enough are: sex, prostitution, uncapped liability for oil companies, credibility.
One could say that if Vitter were running in other states, he would be trounced. But in today’s anti-Democratic Party and anti-big government mood ingesting the nation, Vitter would be very competitive, if not favored to win even in once-super liberal states such as Massachusetts.
All the Republican has needed to do is associate Melancon with any one of those “hot button” words (more than one word at any one time has been even better for the current US Senator) and the Vitter cash register would ring.
So, more than two weeks left to go and with the Republican incumbent armed with a fistful of dollars, what does Vitter need to do to keep the lead and what can Melancon do, if anything, to prevent Vitter from taking home all the marbles this fall?
What Vitter Needs To do To Keep The Lead
With so many “hot button” words at Vitter’s disposal and with a significant lead helping him push towards the finish line, it would be most jaw-dropping if the incumbent were to change course at this time.
He should continue to produce polls showing his comfortable lead but, at the same time, he must create enough drama and doubt to keep his base motivated. The latter should not be too hard as it appears that nationally, the voters who are likely to vote GOP this year are super-charged and salivating to get to the poll.
Continue to show that he is the choice of Republicans and some Democrats. Recently, he has been able to attract win the momentum in the BP political game by getting a number of the heavy hitters from South Louisiana. Currently, he is touting that he has the support of important Republican and Democrat elected officials in parishes hit by the gulf oil disaster which backing cuts into the Melancon 3rd Congressional District political base.
He must not make any major mistakes. Louisiana Republicans have been leading in the past going into the last weeks of the elections only to have their campaigns littering the highways of election past. Just ask the likes of Henson Moore, Suzie Terrell and Bobby Jindal.
Former Republican Congressman Henson Moore led Democrat Congressman John Breaux by almost 80,000 votes in the 1986 primary election for US Senator. However, when the Democrats accused the Louisiana GOP of attempting to depress black turnout in the general election, that single issue suddenly helped propel Breaux into the US Senate. Breaux turned around a near-80 thousand vote disadvantage into an approximate 77,000 vote advantage within weeks in one amazing election turn-around.
Although Suzie Terrell had the full backings of the very popular George W. Bush, George H. Bush and VP Dick Cheney, Mary Landrieu made a come-from-behind victory in the last week of the 1992 US Senate election campaign in large part due to the New Orleans African-American vote and due to a scare that republicans would ruin Louisiana’s position in the world sugar markets. Landrieu pulled out a 52-48 percentage point victory.
Then, in 2003, Bobby Jindal lost what some considered to be a ten-point lead going into the last ten days of the campaign against then-Lt. Governor, Kathleen Blanco. Political pundits attribute the loss to Jindal’s lack of response to a Blanco ad in which Jindal failed to respond and the north Louisiana voters who preferred to back a conservative democrat rather than a republican of Indian ethnicity.
What Melancon Must Do To Stop Vitter From Winning Outright In November
Melancon must do a much better job of tying Senator Vitter’s refusal to approve the television debates with his refusal to answer questions about the “DC Madam” ordeal and his decisions in the Furer scandal.
Senator Vitter has done a remarkable political job of handling these matters that previously had caused other politicians to leave office. His success cannot just be targeted at Obama and the Democratic Congress. Way before President Obama took office, Vitter was in striking distance of hitting the 50 percent approval ratings in the polls although he was considered a weakened candidate.
Vitter’s has simply ignored the media’s request for more information about numerous questions arising out of the controversies and his silence really has not affected his political fortunes.
So far, Vitter has run a textbook campaign and unless somehow Melancon or the Democrats can rally the traditional democratic troops beyond numbers we have not seen in years or unless somehow Vitter makes a startling mistake or unless Melancon can begin to make political hay over his opponent’s refusals to face the public in debate or to answer difficult issues in an non-friendly audience, the Republican will keep his office.
This 2010 election is showing that the “red-meat” words are playing very well to Vitter’s advantage. Although Louisiana’s election landscape has had some interesting surprises in the past, with so many “hot button” images that the incumbent can toss out to his advantage, as things stand right now, it would be remarkable if the junior-Louisiana US Senate spot does not stay “red” rather than “blue” for the next six years.
On the campaign road…
Today, Charlie Melancon, is campaigning in Natchitoches with Caroline Fayard, the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, and with Pastor David Melville, candidate for Congress. Meanwhile, Jay Dardenne, Republican candidate for Lt. Governor will be campaigning in Shreveport.
2nd Congressional District—Cao, Richmond, and Brylski
Democratic PR consultant Cheron Brylski is now becoming an issue in the 2nd Congressional District election between Cedric Richmond and Congressman Cao.
Brylski, who has been a devout Democratic consultant has found herself in somewhat of a political pickle as she has been a hired-gun for Cao early during the Republican incumbent’s re-election campaign.
Her problem is Cao’s opponent is Cedric Richmond, an African-American, who has had his share of ethics issues but who is being painted by Cao’s team as Bill Jefferson incarnate.
This weekend, Stephanie Grace of the Times Picayune sharply criticized Brylski in her column by saying, “Cheron Brylski, a media consultant working for Cao, is pursuing an even more alarming line of attack.”
Brylski is fighting back for her candidate but for her Democratic Party bonafides by posting a statement on her blog. The media consultant today wrote,
“Since I have posted these questions, I have been attacked on facebook
pages by several individuals, as well as in emails from Kevin Franck from
the Democratic Party as “race baiting”. The assertion is that because I am
asking a black male candidate to answer these charges, I am fanning white
fears of black men. Since my candidate is a minority…from a community
which has a history of having problems with domestic violence, I might add
…I don’t quite understand the charges. But as a white liberal, I am sure
that the extreme charges are meant to shut me up. The most recent
post put out by the Democratic Party on Sunday says: Times-Pic:
Cao Behind Brylski's Race-Baiting Attacks. They use Stephanie Grace’s
column to make this point.
The problem for Cao and Brylski in this campaign is her client, a former seminarian, is presenting himself as an ethicist, a man of the cloth who would not stoop to the low-life of political campaigning, leaving that for his campaign team, who is now at odds were her base.
That is what happens when a candidate is a strange man in a strange land as Cao, the republican is in the 2nd Congressional District an area of the map dominated by the Democratic Party.
by Stephen Sabludowsky, Publisher of Bayoubuzz.com
(Updated: The first version of this column wrongfully suggested there could be a runoff if neither candidate received a majority of the vote. That statement has been corrected with this version of the column as a majority is not needed).