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|What would Reagan think?|
It's not often two congressional candidates get together and simultaneously issue news releases criticizing a third candidate.
That's especially true when the candidates in question are all Republicans who are running against one another in a party primary election.
But that's exactly what transpired this week in the 4th District congressional race in northwestern Louisiana where Congressman Jim McCrery, a Republican, opted not to run for re-election. McCrery's decision to bow off the elected scene in lieu of a more lucrative one as a lobbyist opened the door for a host of Republicans who desire to succeed him. The possible successors include Dr. John Fleming of Minden, businessman Chris Gorman of Shreveport and Jeff Thompson, an attorney from Bossier City.
It was Fleming and Thompson who jointly decided they were fed up with Gorman's campaign tactics, dispatching separate news releases on Monday in which they called out Gorman for running a negative, misleading campaign in the 4th District race. The party primary election is Oct. 4.
Armed with a family fortune, Gorman has spent a boat load of his daddy's money on campaign television advertisements and the like. He claims he's a Ronald Reagan Republican who's created some 500 jobs in the private sector. He also says he's pro-life and pro-gun, key talking points for any Republican candidate in the Deep South.
Yet, telephone calls and direct mail pieces 4th District Republicans received from Gorman's camp in recent weeks apparently angered Fleming and Thompson enough to prompt them to respond, questioning Gorman's integrity, or lack thereof.
Of the two candidates—Fleming and Thompson—it was Thompson who was a bit more pointed in his criticism of Gorman, according to the news releases filtered to the media.
Specifically, Thompson questioned how it was possible Gorman created 500 jobs over the past five years at his father's trucking company, Tango Transport, since young Gorman has never served as president and/or chief executive officer of Tango Transport. Thompson also wondered aloud why Gorman claims he's a Ronald Reagan Republican since public records show Gorman didn't join the Republican Party until 2005.
There's the issue of Gorman's masters in business administration from Harvard, too. Gorman says he holds a MBA from Harvard. Both Fleming and Thompson say Harvard has no record of Gorman ever attending the prestigious Ivy League institution.
Over the past month or so, polls commissioned by Fleming and Gorman indicated Fleming was in the driver seat in the race to secure the Republican nomination in the 4th District race. Fleming's own poll showed the good doctor held a comfortable lead; Gorman's poll said he was running a close second to the physician. In both polls, Thompson was running third.
Thus, that means Thompson had absolutely nothing to lose by going public in blistering Gorman, swinging for the fence, so to speak. Obviously, Thompson hoped to knock Gorman out of second place in the race and along the way, create an opportunity for the former chamber of commerce president to move into a November runoff with Fleming.
That brings us to Fleming.
Why would the leading candidate draw attention to an opponent's campaign?
Fleming did it because he obviously was looking to discredit his most competitive challenger.
Many moons ago, former President Reagan often sited the 11th Commandment in Republican Party politics: Never criticize a fellow Republican.
Wonder what Reagan would think of Fleming and Thompson?
Better yet, what would the Old Gipper think of Gorman?