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29.11.07

Kennedy Senate run hand forced by past preferences

In the worst-kept secret since, well, Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal said he would run for that office, Republican Louisiana state Treasurer John Kennedy announced, 341 days before the election, that he would run for the Senate seat currently occupied by Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu. The timing reflects the reality of his electability.

Kennedy, then as a Democrat, took a stab at the Senate in 2004 but veered into a populist, liberal tack. Finishing third, since then he has articulated reformist rhetoric that sounds quite conservative. Had he not had to perform this turnabout, Kennedy would not have announced this early for a contest more than 11 months away.

This is because in about nine months comes the first closed primary nominations in decades for federal offices, and Kennedy’s objectives in the early announcement are to head off potential opponents and begin to raise money for that particular office (Louisiana law prohibits using campaign funds for a state office to be used for a federal office). Not only must he start collecting funds, but he must hope to clear the field to cruise to an easy nomination by Republicans. The last thing he needs is a bruising primary fight.


Had he presented himself as an unambiguous conservative in 2004, likely no one would dare challenge him. The GOP bench is pretty short when it comes to candidates with a statewide reach. Either they are senior members of the U.S. House of Representatives who have shown they are uninterested in running, or junior members without enough acquired reach to be formidable candidates. Others in state offices, executive or legislative, currently have too little experience and influence to be competitive.

But his past “sins” as a liberal populist as recently as three years ago make him potentially vulnerable to a Republican challenger from the right of long standing, thus the early launch to his candidacy. It’s not ideal, as it would be better to swoop down on Landrieu much later since it would be difficult for her to attack him without a declared candidacy, but it’s the situation he put himself in. Expect Landrieu to open up on him in an effort to conceal her own past.

Frankly, it will be tough for a Republican to challenge Kennedy despite his past. Still, Kennedy will have to go the extra mile to convince some conservative Republicans that he is the guy for the job.

1 comment:

JKDMAX said...

JEFF.....DEAR MR. KENNEDY HAD BETTER CLEAR UP HIS ASSOCIATION AS A BOARD MEMBER OF CITIZENS INS. BEFORE HE GOES ONE STEP FURTHER....HE WAS THERE WHEN THE MONEY AND RECORDS GOT "CONFUSED"....I CAN'T STAND LANDRIEU BUT SHE WILL BUST HIM WIDE OPEN ON THIS IF HE DOESN'T EXPLAIN....HE IS THE TREASURER....SHOUDN'T HE ASK ABOUT FINANCIALS OVER TWO YEARS????

KEITH DUFOUR
MANDEVILLE