Bill Cassidy has made noise about running for Governor of Louisiana in 2023. I hadn’t really paid much attention to the chatter before last week, because Cassidy’s chances are approximately zero.
However, Cassidy did announce Monday that he wasn’t going to vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court – an announcement that surprised a lot of analysts. John Kennedy also announced he wasn’t voting for her, but that was pretty much expected.
The difference in the announcements, though, is telling. Here’s Cassidy.
“I appreciate Judge Jackson meeting (with me),” Cassidy said. “She is gracious, intelligent and accomplished.
“But when the political left opposed Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Coney Barrett, not because they were not qualified but because of their presumed jurisprudence, they established the criteria by which future nominees should be judged.
“President Biden chose Judge Jackson precisely because she is not a strict constructionist and because she had the strong support of those who prefer an activist judge. It is for these reasons that I will vote no.”
And here’s Kennedy.
“I found Judge Jackson to be smart, well versed in the law and extraordinarily artful in her ability to speak at length without saying anything of substance on critical questions, especially the limits of judicial power and the importance of judicial restraint,” Kennedy said.
Cassidy’s statement really doesn’t say much of anything, and that’s on purpose. He name-drops Trump (a man he voted to impeach and continued to double down on it), talks about jurisprudence without getting specific, and labels her an activist judge without saying why. He hits all the talking points without having to give details.
He’s appealing to the very conservatives in the state who have abandoned him.
Kennedy, meanwhile, gives specifics. He talks about limits on judicial power and judicial restraint, which tracks with the line of questioning he gave during her confirmation hearings.
Cassidy is trying to tell Republicans he’s with them and has been all along, but doesn’t want to really dig into the specifics. You would only do that if you’re running for office again. He originally promised that he was only running for two terms, and when he won his second term, he started voting like he didn’t actually represent his base – for impeachment, for the infrastructure bill, etc. Whether you agree with the impeachment vote or not, if you’re from a deeply conservative state, you don’t make that vote if you plan on appearing in front of the voters on a ballot again.
Which makes me think this gubernatorial run was originally unplanned. He started voting like he wasn’t going to be up for re-election, but something made him decide to prepare to hop in. I’m not sure what exactly it is, but it’s definitely a miscalculation.
Kennedy isn’t running. It isn’t totally clear why his name was included in the poll, but there’s a high probability that his inclusion kept the Landry numbers down. That, plus the 29 percent who are undecided (because we’re over a year out), would likely not bode well for Cassidy. You can bet most of Kennedy’s 22 percent goes to Landry (with some, but not much, going to Schroder). Cassidy and Nungesser are going to split the “common sense” vote, keeping both from contention. And the Democrats will solidify around one candidate, making it a Landry vs. (Insert Democrat Here) race.
Cassidy simply doesn’t stand a chance, and a smart team would acknowledge this. But Cassidy is suffering from a “holier-than-thou” ego that renders him oblivious to the obvious. Louisianans aren’t looking for a “sensible” Republican. They are looking for someone who will bring some fight to Baton Rouge. That’s why they elected a lot of conservatives in 2019 to counter Edwards (and his very pro-tax agenda) in the governor’s mansion. That’s why Republicans hold a supermajority in the state Senate and a near-supermajority in the House.
To be absolutely fair, this does take a measure of something that’s well over a year away. There’s plenty of time for the lay of the land to change, but given his record, I’m not entirely sure the landscape will change that much. Cassidy pretty much has no shot, and he’s been roasted in every corner of the state for his recent positions.
So kudos to him for making the right choice on Judge Jackson, but there’s really no reason to believe he’s doing it for any reason other than to shore up support ahead of 2023.
The JMC Analytics poll (linked about) has him in fourth place. Perhaps he thinks all that support for John Kennedy will just transfer over to him since Kennedy is more than likely not going to run. After all, they’re both Senators! Why wouldn’t that support carry over?
Except… yeah, we know that support is largely going to go to Jeff Landry, the state’s Attorney General who has made it a point to spearhead or join in every multi-state lawsuit against the Biden administration. Meanwhile, Cassidy is voting against a judge, which almost never moves the needle one way or the other.
It’s hard to really draw any other conclusion at this point. Cassidy appears dead-set on running. Which I suppose makes sense considering a handful of Republicans who voted to impeach are leaving the House after this year, and Cassidy understands the environment in Washington isn’t one that’s welcoming to his kind of politics.
So, good luck I guess? He’ll need it.