The Year of Republican Recruiting Debacles

These are just a few of my favorite bits of Republican misfortune this year. I’m sure you can think of more.

  • VA-Sen: A seat your party holds in a purple-trending state somewhat unexpectedly opens up. The good news is that you have an ideal successor, ready-to-go. He’s won hard-fought elections, cultivated a “moderate” record, and has tons of cash in the bank. What do you do? Well, obviously, if you are the modern Republican Party, you tell him to fuck off. Congrats and thanks to the VA GOP for running Tom Davis out of town by cancelling their primary and scheduling a wingnut festival instead.
  • NY-19: The gall! The unmitigated gall! How could a Democrat ever dare to represent Westchester! Why, such things just aren’t done! Well, of course they are (after all, a Dem represents the 18th), but so said the NY GOP after 2006. So they set their sights on Rep. John Hall and rallied around uber-rich self-funder Andrew Saul. Only problem: After months of gangbusters fundraising, it turns out Saul’s up to his ears in ethics violations – and now out of the race. A Republican engaging in corruption? Why, such things just aren’t done!
  • NJ-07: Here’s a job no Republican wants: food-taster for Markos Moulitsas. Here’s another job no Republican wants, either: United States Representative for New Jersey’s Seventh Congressional District. Within just a single day of this seat opening up, Tom Kean, Jr., Jon Bramnick and Bob Franks all took a pass. Three up, three down, end of the inning. Better luck in the next frame, compadres.
  • OH-15: First there was Jim Petro. But Petro said no. Then there was Steve Stivers. But Stivers said no. Then there was Jim Hughes, but Jim Hughes said no. Then there was Greg Lashutka but Lashutka said no. Then, there was… three months of silence. And finally, Steve Stivers decided he was fer it after he was agin’ it, undoubtedly after Tom Cole twisted his arm 180 degrees behind his back. Hint to Republicans: Money won’t spring loose if you shove it the full 360. Nor will victory.
  • CT-02: The NRCC called him a “heavyweight.” Thing is, Mike Tyson is also a heavyweight. No, Sean Sullivan doesn’t sport any facial tattoos, but he might as well be wearing a scarlet letter, given how unloved he is these days in DC. “Persona non grata,” declared one insider after Sully scraped together a miserable $25K in the second quarter. Personally, I prefer another Latin phrase: bigus dickus. Good luck, skipper.

Crumb-bums will be crumb-bums; they can’t help it – it’s just in their nature.

LA-GOV: “Jindal leads comfortably in latest poll”

Southern Media & Opinion Research poll, conducted August 3rd-6th asked 600 likely voters, MoE +/- 4.0%

Jindal (R): 63%
Boasso (D): 14%
Campbell (D): 4%
Georges (R): 1%

SMOR also asked about the Governor's race if New Orleans Ray Nagin (D) were on the ballot:

Southern Media & Opinion Research poll, conducted August 3rd-6th asked 600 likely voters, MoE +/- 4.0%

Jindal (R): 60%
Nagin (D): 10%
Boasso (D): 10%
Campbell (D): 3%
Georges (R): 1%

Southern Media & Opinion Research did two polls in March in preperation for a potential bid by either current Governor Blanco or former Senator John Breaux, and showed Jindal ahead of them, earning 59% and 56%, respectively. Without either of those two top-tier Democratic challengers, its not surprising to see Jindal polling above 60% in their polling.

This polling also paints a different picture than Anzalone Liszt Research polling did in between the two sets of SMOR polls, which showed Jindal's share dropping from 62% to 52% in the same period of time that State Sen. Walter Boasso (D) started running television ads statewide. While two polls is not enough to paint a trendline (though it didn't stop people from trying anyways), it did show Jindal vulnerable to not winning outright in the October jungle primary, whereas this new poll doesn't reflect the same picture.

There are a few reasons why this may be the case. First, speaking technically, different polling outfits use different methodologies, which usually count for discrepancies between them. There is no reliable way to determine which is more accurate until after the election. Anzalone could run a poll next week and find Jindal at 35%, and it wouldn't make either of their polls any more or less reliable. Because of the different methodologies, it is also difficult to make a straight-cut comparison between the two. For instance, you cannot say that Jindal rose ten points between this poll and the most recent Anzalone poll.

Another reason may be that Jindal has started to run statewide TV ads now. TV ads were the primary impetus behind Boasso's rise in the polls, so it stands to reason that the same would happen with Jindal.

Whatever the case, this poll clearly stands in the way of the train of thought that Jindal is not the heavy favorite to win in 2007. Don't get me wrong, this poll is not infallible, and anything can happen, especially in Louisiana politics. The purpose of this poll, and this diary, is not to say one way or another what will happen, but only to give a platform from which people judge what needs to happen. In order for Jindal to lose, someone needs to take a lot of support away from him. According to SMOR, that person doesn't appear to be Walter Boasso or Ray Nagin, and whoever that person may be will have their work cut out for them.

LA-GOV: Campaign Season Begins

I am actually quite fond of this one minute, introductory commercial: Boasso covers the issues; he announces his party affiliation; the commercial is playful but substantive; Boasso outlines a biography of success, Louisiana style; and it is organized and coherent.  What do all of you think?  What are your impressions of Walter Boasso? 

Here is the link:


Watch the video entitled “Big Challenges.”

Louisiana SecState Dardenne (R-Baton Rouge) following RACIST Republican Script

Cross posted over at Daily Kingfish and Daily Kos

Secretary of State Jay Dardenne, (R-Baton Rouge) in testimony to the House Government Affairs Committee on 2 May 2007 used a racist code word in support of his position to deny Louisianans displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita the right to vote in Louisiana elections. 

He was invited to give his opinion on Jalila Jefferson-Bullock’s HB 619, which would extend the right of displaced persons to vote in Louisiana elections for the upcoming gubernatorial election this fall. 

The code word used by Secretary Dardenne?  Chaos.

UPDATE: Don’t believe this?  Then click here
and go to 2 May 2007, and click on House Gov Affairs.  It’ll launch Real Player, and in the interest of saving you 3 hours, skip to 2:40, and watch from there.

Many younger folks won’t remember this, as they weren’t alive for it … (I wasn’t) … but Richard Nixon, back in 1968, used the words “law and order” in campaign commercials while showing scenes of riots in urban areas.  In other words, the commercial showed scenes of African-Americans rioting in the urban centers of America the summer after Dr. King was shot, and the voice-over said, Richard Nixon will restore law and order to America, or some variation of it.  This was the beginning of the Southern Strategy for the Republicans, one which emphasized white power over people of color.  And Secretary Dardenne is proudly following that script. 

For Secretary Dardenne to use the word “chaos” in describing the use of satellite voting locations during the New Orleans Mayoral election in 2006 is ingenious at best, racist as hell at worst.  Obviously, most of the displaced folks in New Orleans that haven’t been able to return are African-American, as the only section of the city that is still largely uninhabitable is the 9th Ward, which includes the Lower 9th, which is still a ghost town today.  And guess who most of the residents of the 9th Ward were?  African-Americans. 

During his testimony, he constantly changed his reasons for not being supportive of this bill … First, it was that his office has no money to conduct early voting, then it was that there no one to run the effort, then it was that his office didn’t have any voting machines, then it was that his office spent too much money on the voting machines, then it was that it took too much time to count ballots, then it was the whole process was chaos, and too difficult to implement, and too susceptible to fraud. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Of all those “reasons,” the fraud one is most serious one.  The way to combat such fraud is simple … making sure that every Registrar of Voters office throughout the State of Louisiana has access to the voting records for the 11 Parishes affected by the bill, and OVERSIGHT.  Each displaced person who comes forward to vote in a different parish has to sign a statement stating that they are the person they claim to be, and leave some current contact information.  If it turns out that someone is committing fraud, guess what?  By signing that statement, they are essentially saying, “If I am lying, you have the right to prosecute me for misrepresentation.”  And if someone commits fraud in such an instance, then, by all means, Mr. Dardenne, prosecute their lying behind.

For someone who makes no secret about his desire to be Governor, running an election is difficult?!  Mr. Dardenne, running an election is a cakewalk compared to governing Louisiana.  Perhaps you better stick to the Secretary of State’s office for awhile.  Or better yet, just go home when your term is up.

The bottom line is that Secretary Dardenne objects to having to spend some MONEY for early voting in satellite locations throughout Louisiana for voters who say they have been displaced from their parish of residence. We’re not even talking about going to Atlanta, or Houston, or Denver, where quite a few of our citizens were displaced to.  We’re talking about putting a freaking voting machine in the Registrar of Voters offices throughout the state of LOUISIANA, in the event that a displaced New Orleanian, or a displaced resident of Cameron, shows up in another parish’s Registrar of Voters office to vote in the gubernatorial election.

Guess what?  Democracy ain’t free.  Over the last 204 years, Louisianans have shed their BLOOD for our right to vote, and are currently doing so in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our lovely Secretary of State is opposed to spending some MONEY to allow some of our citizens to exercise their right to vote. 

Give him a call … and let him know he’s WRONG on this issue.  1-800-883-2805 … and make him spend some more money while you’re at it.

Lincoln, NE: Beutler (D) Wins Mayoral Race

Final results:

  Ken Svoboda.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  23,958  48.88
  Chris Beutler .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  24,803  50.60
  James Bryan Wilson  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  12 .02 
  WRITE-IN. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  240   .48

Beutler ran a strong campaign, despite an unpopular Democratic mayor, he was able to be the candidate for change. It didn’t hurt that his opponent was a city hall veteran who only campaigned on his party label.

Nebraskans have long been able to look past the party to vote for the better candidate. This is another example of that progress.

The news was not all good for Democrats tonight, as a Democratic incumbent lost her seat on the city council, swinging it to Republican control. Svoboda, unfortunately, isn’t going anywhere. He’ll be on the city council for at least another two years.

LA-GOV: Reading Walter Boasso (D-Arabi), Reading a Southern Republican’s Party Switch

First posted at Daily Kingfish, a Louisiana political blog started by two SSP members from Louisiana.

This election cycle could not be more frustrating and confusing, and I hope I am the only one who is already exhausted.  But at least our state Party has not stacked the deck in favor of one candidate who has a vague campaign message full of platitudes with no solutions and no unifying theme, unless an identity suspended in quotation marks, “Bobby,” constitutes a theme.  To me it appears to be a floating signifier, a mere vocalization that refers to no mental concepts and to no objects that exist in the tangible world.  Republican bloggers must be really bored with the rehashed and revisited rhetoric of 2003 with all the same tropes of Democratic corruption and all the same idle crowing about the wonderful ideas ready to spring from the intelligent mind of “Bobby,” as if he were a modern day Zeus.  How many times can a blogger type, “It is not who you know; it is what you know?”  How many times can one beg readers “not to vote for ideology but for competence?”  How many times does one have to avoid discussing the legislative record of someone who mindlessly voted for the national GOP’s disastrous policies 97% of the time?  How many times can one use the same sheet of toilet paper? 

Because Ryan has already penned a diary on Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, I will deal with the rhetoric surrounding the latest Democratic candidate to announce: Walter Boasso, former Republican but now Democratic state Senator from Arabi, St. Bernard Parish.

Louisiana politics is never boring, and this cycle will be no exception.  So the Southern Strategy is ready to enter phase 4 and swallow Louisiana once and for all.  Democrats, the LCRM claims, will lose seats or be pressured to switch parties, and “Bobby” will be rewarded with a Republican majority in the state House on the day of his coronation, a ceremony to be funded with the precious budget surplus the Republicans ostensibly want to protect.  Republican realignment, we are told, is dawning over the horizon.  But how does this square with the novelty of a Republican state Senator in a Deep South state switching to the Democratic Party?  Boasso’s move is somewhat anomalous, and if one chooses to think about this phenomenon historically, it may signal the obsolescence of the 40 year effort of the Republican Party to colonize the South.  And Boasso may be in good hands.  For on the other end of the South, we have a new Democratic US Senator in Virginia named Jim Webb, who switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party last year, when he won his Senate race by a nailbiting 7,000 votes.

So Boasso’s switch may have a broader significance lost on those who are focused on the empirical and on the partisan and not on the historical.  Do not expect LSU – Shreveport Political Science Professor Jeffery Sadow to engage in such an abstract mode of thinking, for that may require some thought and effort.  But to return to the point of this essay, will Boasso exploit it?  Will Boasso use his party switch to his advantage and to the advantage of the Louisiana Democratic Party?  Is his switch a harbinger for something much larger than himself? 

According to Boasso,

[T]oday I have rejoined the Democratic Party because [sic] I believe that running as a Democrat will give me the best opportunity to push an agenda for change and reform.  The people of Louisiana, regardless of party affiliation, are in search of a leader, and are [sic] eager to stand side by side with someone willing to challenge the establishment and reform our state.

An interesting transvaluation of Republican tropes: reform, change and leadership are now in the purview of the Democratic Party, and the values of the silent majority are to be found underneath the Democratic umbrella, not the dysfunctional, slipshod apparatus brandished by the Republicans.  And state Democratic Party Chairman Chris Whittington is right there in Boasso’s big tent.  Responding to a question about Boasso’s party switch, Whittington quips, “The more the merrier.”  Boasso continues:

The political deal makers have run this state for too long at the expense of so many of our people who need affordable healthcare, quality education and the opportunity to secure a good paying job.  I will not be silenced by the status quo or by those unwilling to embrace a new direction for our state.  The challenges are too large and [sic] we have no time to waste.

Now this is a powerful paragraph.  Corruption and cronyism are placed squarely on the lap of the Republican Party, as are inflexibility, the status quo and useless dilatory tactics, a coded phrase that can be translated to mean inefficient government that enjoys wasting time. 

These are the words of a fighter, and Boasso is not taking any prisoners.  This must have grated on state Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere’s nerves.  And Villere’s response?

Some politicians switch parties because of philosophy and principle. … Walter has made it clear that he is just the opposite. He’s switching because he hasn’t been successful as a Republican candidate.

This is a petty response more befitting a schoolyard bully than a Party Chairman who locked a credible candidate named Walter Boasso out of the political process.   Actually, it does befit Roger Villere, for he is a schoolyard bully.  But if Villere desires to discuss principle and philosophy, let us discuss the many southern Democrats who switched to the Republican Party during the last three decades of the twentieth century as a result of their opposition to Civil Rights legislation.  Let us discuss the southern Republican Party’s use of coded and overt racism to increase white, Republican turnout in close elections.  Let us discuss the southern Republican Party’s roots in figures such as Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms. And let us discuss some of its more recent incarnations, George “Macaca” Allen, David Duke and LSU – Shreveport Professor Jeffrey Sadow, who claims Boasso “is even more off the reservation than Campbell.”  If Boasso is the opposite of those who adhere to racist principles and philosophies, I am more than ready to embrace his candidacy.

But notice what else Boasso mentions in this paragraph:  Boasso switched to the Democratic Party, as Boasso hopes to address the problems of healthcare, education and un(der)employment.  This is not your typical Republican menu of wedge issues with “family values,” guns and tax breaks as your main entrĂ©es and a gratuitous jab at the Landrieus as the lagniappe; this to me reads as the domestic agenda of a Democratic candidate.  Although I am still awaiting the specifics, I am impressed with what I see thus far.

Do you believe Boasso will propose a Democratic social agenda?  How many of his positions do you believe he will modify?  And how do you believe the Democratic Party should handle Boasso’s switch?  Should Chris Whittington make this into a world historical event, or should he allow Roger Villere to frame it as so much political prostitution?  And how should Boasso explain his decision to switch parties?  Should he mention President Bush’s approval ratings?  Should he mention Iraq?  Should he mention the disaster that was the 109th Congress?  Should he discuss how Jindal was one of the reasons the 109th Congress is named the “do nothing” Congress?  And should he mention Jindal’s failure to “get it done” for Louisiana? 

Feel free to quote from other news sources in the comments thread.  And be sure to read Jeffrey Sadow’s insane meditation on Boasso’s switch.  Sadow is so unglued, leather restraints cannot hold him back.