Sunday, March 01, 2009

An Orgy of Possibilities: Senate Swingers

I've been off of my arbitrary election handicapping game for way too long. I apologize to the denizens of fans that have been laying awake at night refreshing the WCBF main page just to be the first to know my fleeting thoughts on Stormy Daniels or Tony Perkins.

Prior to the New Year, it seemed like Senator David Vitter was going to glide in smoothly for a surprisingly easy backdoor reelection. While one would think that values-conscious Louisiana residents would want to punish someone serving with so many lascivious rumors swirling but for a couple of reasons, Vitter's troubles have been downplayed. For one, Senator Vitter slunk to the back benches of Congress and was able to keep his name out of the news for anything - good and bad. Secondly, Louisiana Democrats have generally been on the defensive and have seemed more concerned about eliciting a backlash from Vitter's defenders than they are with demanding Vitter provide legitimate answers.

Now however, the surprising amount of room that Vitter carved out for himself seems to be rapidly contracting.

The bad bad Senator's increasingly public role as one of Obama's most vocal opponents has put him at the forefront of a new Wallace legacy 'no' bloc that also includes thinking men like Richard Shelby and Jim DeMint. While this certainly excites many racist Louisiana voters, it has also served to refocus the ire of Vitter's opponents. He's been badly ridiculed by the national press on several occasions since November whereas before, it seemed like he'd been getting a pass.

Plus, what the Louisiana Democratic Party refused to touch is being intimately embraced by porn star Stormy Daniels' campaign. That little operation could fold up five minutes from now and the mission will have already been accomplished - namely to bring Vitter's hypocritical and criminal sexual activities back into the public conversation about the Senator's service.

If you're having trouble recognizing the fruits of that effort, look to your right.

No, further to the right. Way to your right.

To the Line!!!

(From least likely to most likely to be elected in November 2010)

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10. Wildcards - Many other names (Breaux, Bruno, Cazayoux, Kennedy, Dardenne, Nagin) could surface between now and then...

9. Stormy Daniels (R) - This porn star turned porn executive has turned out to be a pretty good cable TV squawker. She's found a pretty clever way to highlight Vitter's scandal by contrasting the direct illegality of his acts to the perceived implied immorality of her industry. If Larry Flynt gets involved financially, the Daniels campaign will have some real juice behind it. And Flynt is definitely going to be interested in parsing out some of those old New Orleans stories for public consumption. Vitter doesn't want that at all.

8. Walter Boasso (D) - The Democratic field is up in the air enough that it's pretty much appropriate to just assume that anybody who's run for statewide office in the last 6 years is thinking about running. Boasso is a loser though so I wouldn't expect him to stick around.

7. Charlie Melancon (D) - I'd love for him to run. He might lose his Congressional seat to the census as it is, so I don't know why he says he's not interested. This is a drag for Louisiana Democrats. He would have made the best candidate.

6. Tony Perkins (R) - This nutcase from the Family Research Council has said he's considering a morality-based primary challenge against Vitter. Perkins can mobilize foot soldiers. I'm worried if I'm Vitter.

5. Chris John (D) - This guy is so uninspiring to me, even though the rematch storyline could make for a compelling narrative. Yawn.

4. John Cooksey (R) - This former Rep. has already pledged $200,000 of his own money for the race provided he thinks that the Republican base is receptive to challenging Vitter. You don't lay that kind of money on the line and not run. He's probably in. And it seems like he'd be a real force in a GOP primary.

3. Jim Bernhard (D) - The CEO of the Shaw Group has lots of dough to get started and he's definitely interested. He's going to really struggle to get money from national progressive grassroots but if he's willing to bankroll himself, he can be competitive without much help from the Democratic Party. If that's the case, he can play himself up as an independent moderate or whatever. Hard to gauge because I've never seen him speak or anything but he could turn out to be a robust candidate.

2. Kathleen Blanco (D) - I'm putting this one on the table because of the dearth of Democrats with statewide name recognition. She'll have a lot of tough questions to answer about her sorry record as governor along the way but I raise the specter because of polls late in her governorship indicating softening disapproval ratings and because of her increased public presence in the press in connection to the Vitter seat. Vitter has personally antagonized her to get her to run. I think it's clear she's going to consider the offer. When you say things like "today I am not a candidate," you're probably going to run.

1. David Vitter (XXX) - Incumbent won't slip from the top spot until there's actually a campaign going on and he's shown to be trailing in the polls. He has a ton of structural advantages in his favor but he's legitimately vulnerable.

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This is going to be a Louisiana classic.

7 comments:

Papa Bear said...

You know better then to put Vitter as a D.

Maybe you should list his party as XXX

E said...

whoops! i'll take your suggestion.

jeffrey said...

The mayor's race will be far more entertaining. Vitter is going to run away with this one.

Clay said...

http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?mkt=en-us&vid=2e8c25fc-c14c-4f82-8472-a17f1987dcf4

Jim Bernhard on CNBC. Nice, slow drawl that would contrast sharply with Vitter's high-pitched, tense voice. He has some PR skills, but we'll see about how good a campaigner he is.

Anonymous said...

Louisiana would never send two Democrats to the Senate. Especially after all this socialism. The only bet for beating Vitter is another Republican winning in the primary. Or... possibly a conservative independent.

E said...

yes, soooo much socialism keeping us down!

jeffrey said...

Anon, what do you mean by "never".. if not in every election but one since Reconstruction?