Associated Press reporter Melinda Deslatte had an interesting column on the Louisiana governor’s race that appeared in a number of state dailies and even in what one of our readers derisively calls “The Hayride North,” but which is known to most of us as The Washington Times.
In her column, Deslatte notes that Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Democratic State Rep. John Bel Edwards are somewhat irritated that Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter.
The four, for those of you who have drifted off into the semi-conscious state induced by football overdose, are the leading contenders in the Oct. 24 governor’s race and most observers have already conceded the top two spots to Vitter and Edwards.
But Vitter, who remains ensconced in Washington where he insists he is “doing my job that I was elected to do,” is apparently so cocksure of his position that he feels he doesn’t have to get out and meet voters and answer questions or, as the late President Lyndon Johnson would have said, “press the flesh.”
You see, Vitter is trying to buy this election, pure and simple. He’s got this Super PAC called Fund for Louisiana’s Future carrying the water for him. Translated to terms we can all understand, his PAC is his attack dog. He doesn’t have to put his name on those nasty half-truths and outright lies being tossed around about Angelle and Dardenne.
The way Super PACs work, there is supposed to be arms-length separation between the candidate and the Super PAC. There is supposed to be no coordination between the candidate and the Super PACs. That’s why all the attack ads have the disclaimer at the end of the ad that tells us that the message you just heard was paid for by Funds for Louisiana’s Future.
Funds for Louisiana’s Future has somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.5 million to tear down Vitter’s two Republican opponents (notice we never said the ads are used to bring any kind of positive message about Vitter’s accomplishments—just negative messages about Angelle and Dardenne).
But isn’t it interesting that with all those rules about arms-length separation and a ban on coordination, a check of contributions to Funds for Louisiana’s Future finds that Vitter chipped in $250,000 of his own money to the Super PAC. http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/contrib_all.php?cycle=2014&type=A&cmte=c00541037&page=1
How’s that for arms-length separation? Still think there was no consultation between candidate and PAC?
And don’t think for one minute that Edwards is exempt from attacks. The National Republican Governors Association, after having said it did not plan to do any ad buys for the first primary, has done a sudden about face.
But of course the RGA didn’t count on a surge in popularity by Edwards before the Oct. 24 primary. Everyone assumed Edwards would make the runoff, being the only Democrat in the race, but the RGA got a real shock when Edwards actually forged into the lead in not one, but two separate polls two weeks or more before the first primary.
Panic set in quickly and the ads attacking Edwards, trying to tie him to President Obama, suddenly began flashing across TV screens across the state. It evokes memories of when Buddy Roemer came from nowhere in the final weeks of the 1987 election.
But it’s not the polls or the attack ads that have Angelle, Dardenne and Edwards upset. That, after all, is in keeping with the tradition of Louisiana politics and can be expected. After all, when did the truth ever matter when it came to winning an election?
The thing that’s got the three a mad as a wet hen is Vitter’s refusal to participate in TV debates.
Deslatte says the three are accusing Vitter of:
- Refusing to attend unscripted events;
- Engage in real policy debates;
- Interact directly with voters;
- Participate in question-and-answer sessions where he is not allowed to review questions in advance “or control the forum style.
Does all that sound a little too eerily familiar? Did a shiver just run up your spine? Did the room suddenly experience an unexplained chill?
The answers for us were yes, yes, and yes, so we did a little historical research and we find some uncanny similarities with someone else you may remember.
First, let’s take Vitter’s earlier claim that “I’m doing my job that I was elected to do.”
Doesn’t that sound a little too much like, “I have the job I want” repeated by Bobby Jindal so often during his first term?
How about Vitter’s:
- Refusal to attend unscripted events? Anyone remember Jindal ever holding an unscripted event of any description? He couldn’t even participate in a hot dog eating contest without every bite being choreographed in advance.
- Refusal to engage in real policy debates? Has anyone ever seen Bobby Jindal talk about any issue without repeating the same tired talking points repeated verbatim from one venue to another ad nauseam?
- Refusal to interact with voters? Ever see Jindal work a crowd? I mean come down off that stage and mingle without a taxpayer-funded State Police security detail protecting him from any human contamination? Didn’t think so.
- Refusal to participate in question-and-answer sessions when he isn’t allowed to review the questions in advance or control the forum style? Do we even have to say anything here?
The similarities are so strong and so frightening—especially with the prospect of another four or eight years of Jindal-like “leadership.”
Skeptics are saying that Angelle as governor would be “Jindal 2.0.” But Vitter as governor would be “Jindal on steroids.”
Already, it’s becoming difficult to keep from saying Jitter or Vindal.
But one thing is abundantly apparent: Vitter is not running for governor; he’s purchasing the office by attacking opponents on TV instead of confronting them face to face like a man. My grandfather had a name for that: cowardice. And if he’s elected, we have no one to blame but ourselves. We will have been purchased, in the words of the late Earl Long, “like a sack of potatoes.”
As for me, my vote is not for sale.