Vitter tries to win Louisiana by way of Paris

20 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

HUFFPOLLSTER: Here’s What You Need To Know About Louisiana’s Gubernatorial Election.

Though members of the joint House and Senate budget committee raised concerns that the patchwork plan would leave a slew of financial problems for a new governor taking office in January, they overwhelmingly supported the proposal Friday.

NEW ORLEANS — Charges and counter-charges involving thugs, terrorists, prostitutes and spies have dominated the raucous final stretch of a Louisiana governor’s race that, just three months ago, was a ho-hum affair. Both candidates in Saturday’s runoff for governor – Democrat John Bel Edwards and Republican David Vitter – urged rejection of the deficit closing plan. So in the race’s final moments, he has found religion: specifically, the threat of Islamic extremists lurking among the handful of Syrian refugees who have settled in Louisiana. A decisive loss Saturday would imperil his chances of winning a third term to 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 without a defeat and has shown, throughout his career, a willingness to do what it takes to win and consolidate his power.

Vitter has been buffeted by an old prostitution scandal. “We have all the momentum going into Election Day tomorrow,” he said. “We’ve had significant gains every day … I feel great about where we are and where we’re headed tomorrow.” Vitter supporters look to Kentucky for inspiration. And Vitter, chairman of the Senate’s Border Security Caucus, has seized on the political firestorm over President Obama’s plan to increase the flow of refugees felling the Syrian civil war. Vitter sounded the alarm about refugees as far back as September, when he sent letters to Secretary of State John Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson The issue has heated up in the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris. In the governor’s race, Vitter has turned to a tried-and-true playbook, portraying Edwards as a “liberal” clone of President Obama who is soft on crime. So entering into this year’s gubernatorial race, Vitter held what seemed like an insurmountable advantage: he enjoyed the status of two Senate terms.

Edwards countered with an ad where a popular sheriff said the attacks on him “are not only false, they are irresponsible.” The state sheriffs’ association is backing Edwards. The overriding issue in 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.

The rest of the electorate — white Democrats and independents — decide elections. “They’re not registered Republican, but that’s not because they’re liberal,” he said. “They are moderate-to conservative voters consistently. And one-third of conservatives say they plan to vote for the Democrat, instead of the Republican. “It’s not one thing, it’s everything,” said University of New Orleans professor Edward Chervenak, who directed the poll.

But a Baton Rouge law firm spent nearly $2 million on attack ads reminding voters of the scandal, and the two Republican candidates who lost in the primary also said it made Vitter untrustworthy and unfit for office. “When you can’t be true to the ones you love the most, I question who you can be true to,” Laynie Barrilleaux, a retired university administrator and Democrat who supported Lt. With Jindal’s approval rating down to 20 percent in a recent statewide poll, Edwards has repeatedly said that a victory by Vitter would mean a continuation of Jindal’s unpopular policies. A campaign ad in early November contrasted “the choice” between Edwards’ military experience and Vitter’s prostitution history, saying: “David Vitter chose prostitutes over patriots.” The prostitution issue also returned to the news cycle in October when a local blogger, Jason Berry, began posting interviews with a New Orleans prostitute who claimed Vitter had been a client for years.

But he also has a 100 percent voting record with Louisiana Right to Life on abortion issues and sports an A grade from the National Rifle Association. 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. But it’s only recently that her husband has felt he had to address the issue more directly with voters. “Fifteen years ago, I faced my darkest day in life when I had to look my kids in the eye and tell them how badly I’d failed my family,” Vitter said during his closing statement Monday night. “What they gave me in return was the best day of my life, when they and Wendy offered complete love and forgiveness.

When they confronted him he fled the diner, and after a 25-minute chase, the sheriff’s deputies found him in the backyard of a nearby residence, hiding behind an air-conditioning unit. Frenzel had indeed been recording the sheriff and his friends, with what the sheriff described as “a sophisticated device that was disguised as a cellphone”. Today’s challenge “creates an opportunity for structural change,” said Stine, now a business executive, “but a lot of misery will come with the job.” The most damaging blow to Vitter’s campaign – possibly worse than Jindal, and even the prostitution – may have been the alienation of his fellow conservative politicians and voters. Vitter is widely known in Washington as a vindictive opponent, but that throat-cutting style did not go over well in Louisiana, when he destroyed his Republican opponents in a ruthless primary campaign.

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