How Bobby Jindal might have sunk David Vitter’s campaign for governor

21 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

In Louisiana, David Vitter Trailing His Democratic Rival Forward.

Charges and countercharges involving thugs, terrorists, prostitutes and spies have dominated the raucous final stretch of a Louisiana governor’s race that was, until recently, expected to be an easy victory for Republican Sen.Almost nobody thought John Bel Edwards, the Democratic leader in the Louisiana House of Representatives, was “supposed” to be where he is today, leading Republican Sen.— A year after Louisiana voters booted their last Democratic statewide officeholder by double digits, the dirtiest political race in America comes down to whether a lurid but decade-old sex scandal is enough to pry Southern conservatives away from the Republican Party, even amid renewed fears of terrorism at home. In 2007, Vitter’s phone number appeared in the phone records of Pamela Martin and Associates, a company owned and run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, also known as the “D.C.

A liberal columnist in the state wrote in May that Democratic hopes for beating Vitter were “.” But Vitter has gone from to fighting for his political life after a vicious and damaging primary that ended in October, and Louisiana Democrats are almost giddy. “Tomorrow, Louisiana turns the page on David Vitter’s scandals and Bobby Jindal’s failures by electing John Bel Edwards,” state Sen. David Vitter is trying to rally last-minute support from conservative voters in advance of Louisiana’s Saturday runoff election for governor, a race that shows Democratic state Rep. Edwards has been leading at the polls since the Oct. 24 primary, according to Huffington Post, and a HuffPost Pollster model aggregating all publicly available polls shows Edwards with 51 percent of the vote and Vitter with 39 percent. The competition has become a slugfest of attack ads and one of the most expensive governor’s races in Louisiana history, with at least $30 million spent by candidates and outside groups.

At a , Vitter said of Edwards’ moderate talk on the campaign trail, “There is just this enormous gap between your rhetoric and your record.” Since the October primary, Edwards has countered by playing up his support from Republicans — including Lt. Edwards has repeatedly criticized his opponent’s sex scandal but the Democrat caught some flak himself last week when he invited his supporters to a “meet and greet” – at a strip joint. At stake for Vitter is not just the governor’s race but, possibly, his political future: A decisive loss could imperil his chances of winning a third term in the Senate next year. “Voters might just say they’re done with him,” said Roy Fletcher, a longtime Louisiana political consultant. “Maybe there will be blood in the water.” Vitter has won seven elections in a row and has shown, throughout his career, an ability to do what it takes to win – both for him and his allies. After the event at Lyve New Orleans, he packed voters onto a party bus featuring strobe lights and poles and carried them off to do some early voting.

Last year, for instance, he pushed aside other would-be contenders to guide then-representative Bill Cassidy to a 12-point victory to seize Mary Landrieu’s seat in the U.S. Jay Dardenne, who endorsed his candidacy earlier this month — as well as Dardenne and Scott Angelle’s attacks on him during the primary over his trustworthiness and , both of which were by the Democratic Governors Association-aligned Gumbo PAC.

A private investigator named Robert Frenzel, who worked for a law firm used by Vitter’s gubernatorial campaign, was arrested and booked with criminal mischief after he allegedly tried to record a meeting hosted by Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, a reported longtime Vitter foe. More recently, however, the race shifted to a referendum on Vitter, particularly his 2007 prostitution scandal, in which he apologized for a “serious sin” after he was linked through phone records to Washington’s “D.C. If Republicans hoped to turbo-charge a Vitter comeback on fear of terrorism, though, that comeback started with a more good-natured emotion: forgiveness. Vitter tried to shift the narrative last week, following the terrorist attacks in Paris. on Monday accusing Edwards of pledging to “work with Obama to bring Syrian refugees to Louisiana,” a move that put Edwards on defense. After ignoring or deflecting public questions about his prostitution scandal for years, Vitter finally began addressing the issue directly in recent weeks as Edwards’ strength became clear. “I’ve spoken about this directly with the people of Louisiana for some time,” Vitter said at a debate here Monday night when asked about the scandal, which saw his phone number linked to a D.C. prostitute who catered to the rich and powerful. “I’ve apologized to them directly and just as important, I’ve committed to rebuild their trust.” Vitter went on to describe telling his children about what he did in the “darkest moment of my life.” He said his failure and redemption were “the most important experience of his life.” For such a defining moment, Vitter has been very quiet about it in public until recently.

But just as Vitter’s refugee line of attack was starting to get traction, another event shook up the political conversation in the state: Republican Gov. In the meantime, enjoy this Daily Show clip about the “down and dirty” race – complete with a real-life Edwards campaign ad saying he “answered our country’s call” – while Vitter “answered a prostitute’s call.” It was two super PACs dedicated to his defeat (as well as some Republican opponents) who first started raising the issue explicitly this fall, and Vitter — once considered an unbeatable front-runner — immediately started tumbling in the polls. Edwards countered with an ad in which a popular sheriff said the attacks on the Democrat “are not only false, they are irresponsible.” The state sheriffs’ association is backing Edwards. Those supporters cite the recent Kentucky governor’s race, where Republican Matt Bevin won despite polls showing him lagging his Democratic opponent, to suggest Vitter will prevail in the end.

His campaign released a controversial ad criticizing Edwards on prison reform and accusing the Democrat of wanting “thugs” back on the street, prompting a furious response from Democrats and groups like the NAACP. Edwards, who began his gubernatorial bid as a little-known lawmaker from rural Tangipahoa Parish, responded to the spike in Vitter’s disapproval ratings with a campaign built on personal integrity, a resume that includes a West Point degree and a tenure as an Army Ranger, and pledges that he’d run a moderate administration built on bipartisanship. “This election is too critical.

But Vitter also released an ad where he discussed failing his family and said his personal story of redemption taught him how he could bring back the state of Louisiana. The survey also found that the refugee crisis could help Vitter, with 40 percent of voters saying they were more likely to support Vitter because of it compared to only 36 percent for Edwards. The superintendent of the Louisiana State Police, Mike Edmonson, ultimately clarified the situation. “There is no missing Syrian,” he said in an interview, adding that the man in question successfully applied to resettle with his family in Washington.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, a former Louisiana state legislator who has endorsed Vitter and said voters “are willing to forgive,” said he long ago helped put together a group of pastors from around the state who counsel Vitter and try “to keep him on the straight and narrow” in both in his personal life and on policy issues. The overriding issue throughout the race has been the resurrection of Vitter’s 2007 admission that he had committed a “very serious sin” a half-dozen years earlier in connection with the “D.C.

This week, he’s ramped up the effort, using the Paris terrorist attacks and the national debate over Syrian refugee resettlement to claim that Edwards would help Obama bring a flood of refugees to Louisiana, which received 14 so far, according to federal figures. Vitter thought he had put the scandal behind him when voters reelected him overwhelmingly to the Senate in 2010, but a Baton Rouge law firm spent nearly $2 million on attack ads reminding voters of the scandal. For his part, Edwards isn’t accepting blame for the race’s negative tenor. “After months of him spending millions of dollars lying about my record, I decided to tell the truth about him,” Edwards said. Louisiana’s open primary placed all candidates, regardless of party, on the ballot together, and the top two vote-getters headed to Saturday’s runoff. During a debate between the two men Monday that turned into a verbal brawl, Edwards said, “I don’t try to give 100 percent to anyone other than my wife,” and added that Vitter ought to emulate him.

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