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|Alexander's 'bid' for a fourth term|
While most Louisianians probably are well aware U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is locked in a competitive campaign for a third, six-year term, it is within reason to believe few residents of the 5th congressional district in central and northeastern Louisiana know U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander's name will appear on a ballot in about a month.
That would be the case since we've seen little campaign activity by Alexander or his opponent in the Sept. 6 Republican Party primary election, Andrew Clack of Richland Parish.
A newcomer to the electoral process, Clack qualified last month to oppose Alexander for the Republican nomination. The campaign against Alexander marks Clack's first bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The winner between Alexander and Clack in the Sept. 6 primary will move on to the Nov. 4 general election. At least that would be case if there existed a Democrat who qualified for the Democratic Party's nomination in the 5th District race. Since no Democrat bit the bullet to jump into the fray in the 5th, the winner of the Alexander/Clack campaign will be elected congressman in the Republican primary.
While Clack certainly has a right as an American citizen to oppose Alexander, let's be honest. He doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of stopping Alexander from being elected to a fourth term in the U.S. House. That's not a knock on Clack; it's reality. He doesn't have the financing to piece together a formidable campaign. He's also opposing a candidate whose approval rating among voters is sky-high.
Yet, that brief synopsis of the lay of the land in congressional politics in the 5th District raises a question.
Why did the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or the election arm of the national Democratic Party for U.S. House campaigns, fail to field a candidate to make a run at Alexander?
Let's take a look.
Elected in 2002 as a Democrat, Alexander quickly learned once he got his feet on the ground in Washington that the Democratic Party he belonged to in Louisiana was far different from the Democrats who rule the roost on Capitol Hill. Bluntly stated, Alexander was a fish out water among Democrats in Washington as long as he represented the views of his constituency in the 5th District in lieu of moving to the Left to appease the more liberal Democratic leadership in the Congress. Thus, for the sake of keeping his job as congressman in the 5th, Alexander switched parties in the midst qualifying in 2004. And he has been easily re-elected as a Republican ever since.
A workhorse, Alexander has done what most members of the U.S. House must do to remain in good favor among the folks who matter the most—voters who reside in the congressional district he or she may represent. His votes in the House, by and large, are representative of the views of his constituents, and he has delivered federal funding to help pay for the wants and needs of his constituents via local governments and the like. "Earmarks" come to mind.
Along the way or over the past five-plus years, Alexander earned a reputation for being accessible, meaning when you needed to talk to the congressman he made himself available for a chit-chat. That, my friends, goes a long way in keeping the natives happy on the home front.
While it is high probability an extensive search was undertaken by Democrats to field a candidate to oppose Alexander, the folks at the DCCC are no fools. They know when an incumbent Republican cannot be unseated, and that's exactly what they found in Alexander.
Besides, flush with campaign funds, the DCCC has opportunities galore to pick up more seats in the House from end of the country to the other thanks to voter discontent over the price of gasoline and the state of the economy in general. The war in Iraq—initiated by a Republican-controlled Congress some five years ago—is playing well for Democratic candidates, too.
Thus, Alexander will easily be re-elected in the face of minor opposition, void of a hard-fought campaign.
Something tells us he's not complaining about it.