Dardenne has almost everything going for him in this contest: name recognition, the right party label in this election cycle, a demonstrated willingness for voters (in the primary) to prefer the GOP label that produced a majority of the vote, and plenty of funding. About the only thing not in his favor is with distrust of government at high levels, some voters are prejudiced against those already in office whereas Fayard, not having run for elective office, can present herself as “untainted” and also as a blank slate to voters reminiscent of Pres. Barack Obama’s campaign of two years past.
With these dynamics, typically a front-runner like Dardenne need not delve into the presumed personal shortcomings of an opponent and can concentrate just on his qualities he brings to the job. However, Dardenne has chosen to runs an ad that refuses to give Fayard a clear field in presenting a defined image of her choice to voters. In it he points out some liberal issue preferences of hers, that much of her support comes from trial lawyers, that she has been a consistent donor to liberal Democrats, and that she has been aided and assisted by them in the campaign, asserting that her loyalties are more to national Democrats than to Louisiana’s values.
Fayard has taken umbrage at the commercial – even though it is all factual and consistent. In high dudgeon, she claims it is an “attack,” and others in the media have parroted that assessment. But as the Dardenne campaign has pointed out, it’s simply a recitation of qualities about her and her campaign – her “record” of political life. Certainly there has been extensive discussion of Dardenne’s history in office, which Dardenne claims to some extent has been distorted, by opponents for the office and from elsewhere, so it’s entirely legitimate that he should draw distinctions to help better educate voters on the differences between the two (where in other ads he touts his record, by contrast).
It’s telling that Fayard tries to delegitimize the tactic and message to distract votes from its content and reminds us of the quandary Democrats in Louisiana have faced in the past two decades. Knowing that the Democrat and especially liberal label increasingly have become unpopular to voters, they try to present themselves as one thing when their attitudes and behavior would suggest another. Fayard, for all her protestations that Dardenne’s tactics are indicative of the “same old,” is herself trying to follow the “same old” liberal Democrat playbook in the state.
If to the majority of Louisiana voters liberal Democrats and the views they push are dogs (yellow, blue, or any color), since Fayard lay down with dogs, she’s going to get their fleas. Crying foul (and backed in this by her allies) when her opponent points out that reaffirms that her campaign is less about getting new blood into office and more about trying to fool the electorate – the very impetus to turning an electorate feeling deceived in the past two years so decisively against Democrats this election cycle.