In Louisiana, there is no shortage of drama in politics. We have mastered the political underworld, and continue to prove it in new and exciting ways. As of this writing, Republican Jay Dardenne is set to announce that he is endorsing Democrat John Bel Edwards for governor of Louisiana.
The primary fight between Dardenne and U.S. [mc_name name=’Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’V000127′ ] was incredibly bitter, as both camps unleashed a torrent of hits on each other leading up to election day. Dardenne came in fourth place, behind Edwards, Vitter, and another Republican by the name of Scott Angelle (who, incidentally, could very well have beat Vitter and made it into the run-off against Edwards had Dardenne dropped out). Dardenne is not a particularly conservative guy, but was a very successful Lt. Governor of the state, particularly with regard to increasing tourism here.
However, the move to support Edwards is ill-advised at best, and at worst could cost him if Vitter wins. Via Scott McKay at The Hayride:
The problem for Vitter isn’t the votes Dardenne brings. It’s the perception and momentum that the endorsement will be spun into by Edwards and the national media. This news comes after the Sheriffs’ Association put out a TV ad with a bunch of their members tag-teaming a narrative that Vitter’s ad about Edwards letting crooks out of jail is a lie and that Edwards is a big public safety guy (who promised to have 5,500 less inmates in the jails after his first term). It’s a good-looking ad, though given that some 2/3rds of Edwards’ primary voters were black one wonders how motivating an ad with a bunch of white sheriffs blowing hard about how tough Edwards is on crime will be for them. Still, part of the narrative in that ad was that both Republicans and Democrats are for Edwards.
(Now would be a good time to mention the reason for this is that both Republican and Democrat sheriffs want to keep the ability to control sales tax collections within their fiefdoms, and Vitter is pushing a plan to computerize and standardize sales tax collections across the state that would greatly reduce the sheriffs’ ability to do favors for their friends.)
According to the behind-the-scenes rumors here, Dardenne demanded that Vitter make him his Commissioner of Administration – essentially, the guy who implements the governor’s agenda – and Vitter gave him a hearty “Nope.” So, Dardenne, already upset at the ugliness of the primary, ran to Edwards and a deal was cut.
See, dirty politics aside, there is a real problem here: Several Republicans in Louisiana (and outside of Louisiana) want to see Vitter lose because he is a flawed candidate. The questionable past has been beaten to death in local and national media, and even though it didn’t cost Vitter his Senate seat in 2010, people think it will in 2015. The problem here is that Republicans who stand to lose a lot if Vitter is elected want him out of the game. Never mind that his record on the issues is vastly more conservative than a Medicaid-expanding, anti-school choice, teacher union shill, pro-Obama Democrat who tries to portray himself as a God-fearing, social conservative.
Dardenne is bitter. He wants Vitter taken out. Several Republicans want the same thing. Louisiana conservatives should not be fooled into thinking that Edwards is some blue dog Democrat. He will set Louisiana back a decade or more. The sad part? Louisiana’s legislature is probably all too willing to let him.