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Invalid Richmond remarks suggests lack of confidence

When a Democrat-leaning poll gave challenger Democrat state Rep. Cedric Richmond a double-digit lead over incumbent Republican Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao, an initial reaction to the news that national Democrats were cancelling advertising buys for Richmond might have been to think it was because of confidence in Richmond’s chances. But such a judgment may be too hasty.

As previously noted, given the track record of that polling organization, the contest probably is much tighter with Richmond holding a narrow lead. Further, endorsements by some leading black Democrats of Cao now call into question whether national Democrats see Richmond as too risky of an investment, causing the pullout.

The latest to give the nod to Cao, Richmond’s vanquished major opponent in the Democrat primary, state Rep. Juan LaFonta, vaguely echoed Richmond’s ethical difficulties – rules violation, loss of law license, arrest, alleged steering of state money to favored organizations – that electronic media and Cao have publicized in recent weeks. It bears noting that the men also have been rivals for power besides with this office in the Legislature, such as over the leadership and direction of the Legislative Black Caucus, and that, should Cao win, LaFonta could be calculating Cao would be easier to defeat in the coming years should he wish to try again.

But Richmond’s reaction to LaFonta’s endorsement appeared to be that of an unconfident candidate. He claimed Cao and LaFonta had been working together from the start, “sharing supporters, advisors, and consultants,” and that LaFonta “has never supported the president [Barack Obama].”

Neither charge can be backed by evidence. Looking at LaFonta’s voting record in the state House, it couldn’t be any more similar to Obama’s preferences, and LaFonta has defended Obama’s policies many times, such as on health care. Further, a review of both Cao’s and LaFonta’s campaign expenditures for over the past year shows, except for using the same office supplier and airline, no entities received any funds from both candidates. Finally (and having to eyeball hundreds of these means I may have missed something), there appear to be not a single common donor to the men’s campaigns in that year leading up to the primary election.

The non-factual content and air of desperation leaking from Richmond’s reaction can indicate he’s worried about the impact of LaFonta’s statement. This means, despite all odds, Cao continues to have a significant chance to hang onto his seat.

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