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Story Archives: Vitter's coattails and Fayard the comer
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|Vitter's coattails and Fayard the comer|
Secretary of State Jay Dardenne will be elected lieutenant governor in the Nov. 2 special election to fill the void Mitch Landrieu created when he was elected mayor of New Orleans earlier this year.
You can bank on it, assuming some unforeseen scandal does not break between now and election day to derail Dardenne's bid.
Dardenne, though, has some work cut out for him in light of finishing with a rather unimpressive 28 percent of the vote in the Oct. 2 primary. The work Dardenne has ahead of him entails ensuring that he soundly outdistances Caroline Fayard—his Democratic opponent on Nov. 2—by a wide margin. Fayard, an attorney whose father is the prominent plaintiff's attorney Calvin Fayard, garnered 24 percent of the vote in the primary, her first race ever for public office. Fayard earned her spot in the run-off thanks to support among black voters, who have been known to cast a ballot for a Democrat regardless of his or her qualifications. The "D" listed by the candidate is all that matters.
If Dardenne fails to blow out Fayard next month, he will open the door for a serious challenger to surface when he stands for election to a full term as lieutenant governor in the fall 2011 elections. You can bank on that, too. Of course, that's assuming Dardenne doesn't find the lieutenant governor's job so boring that he would rather practice law for a living instead of serving as the state's official cheerleader, which is about all a lieutenant governor in Louisiana does courtesy of the 1974 constitutional convention.
Dardenne likely will coast into the lieutenant governor's post for a number of reasons. No. 1, Dardenne is a Republican. No. 2, he will appear on the same ballot as Sen. David Vitter, a Republican who is being opposed for re-election by Congressman Charlie Melancon. Melancon is a Democrat who's a bit too cozy with the liberal elite in Washington for your average voter in Louisiana to stomach.
Let's not forget that the Nov. 2 general election will serve as a referendum of sorts on President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress. Like it or not, Melancon is guilty by association, and he will pay for it at the polls.
To surmise, it's likely that voters who pull a lever for Vitter in sending a message to Democrats nationwide, including Obama, will pull a lever for Dardenne, too. The coattail effect, if you will.
Fayard, on the other hand, deserves credit for putting together a fairly effective campaign in a rather short period of time. After all, she was an unknown commodity for the most part until she qualified for the lieutenant governor's race in July. The fact that she outpolled a host of other candidates—entertainer Sammy Kershaw, state GOP chairman Roger Villere and Sen. Butch Gautreaux to name a few—told us the 32-year-old Fayard is a comer in politics in Louisiana. Keep your eye on her.
It certainly helped Fayard's cause that she could largely self-finance her campaign. Her father is a very wealthy man. She reportedly is fairly wealthy in her own right.
Then there's the Carville factor, as in James Carville, the renowned political consultant who lives in New Orleans these days. Carville is quietly directing Fayard's campaign. Not bad help if you can get it, or afford it, assuming Carville isn't handling Fayard's campaign pro bono.
Money and the most effective political consultant in the world aren't enough, though, to overcome a party affiliation that's about as popular as cancer these days in Louisiana. That's especially true among white voters in rural Louisiana, who have never cared for Obama and the Democratic-congressional leadership in Washington.
What does the lieutenant governor's race have to do with Obama and congressional politics, you may ask? The answer is plenty. It's plenty because the vote on Nov. 2 in the lieutenant governor's race will trend along party and racial lines just like the U.S. Senate race.
You can bank on that as well.