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Jones CD-4 campaign built on lightning striking twice

Although invited, last week Louisiana Fourth Congressional District hopeful Democrat Marshall Jones did not attend a candidate forum at Bossier Parish Community College. Nor will he attend many, if any, of these kinds of events throughout the election season.

In this instance, as besides BPCC both the Bossier and Caddo Parish Republican Parties sponsored the gathering, perhaps Jones, the only Democrat in the contest and who declined participation, could have an excuse not to appear. But throughout the campaign expect him to dodge as many as he can unscripted events that could feature inconvenient questions.

This is because state Democrats have had their hearts fluttering thinking they can replicate the success of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards given his surprising victory last year. They see a formula to create a winning coalition: have a Democrat express social conservatism on God, guns, and the unborn as loudly and as often as possible while infrequently mumbling liberal economic bromides and other issue preferences of the left they figure will reassure enough of the hard left base while conning enough of the center-right electorate into thinking such as candidate acceptable, aided by a multitude of quality Republican candidates not paying attention to him in the rush to bash each other.

And the Fourth District might even fit better with this strategy than the state as a whole. With a bit more Democrat and black registration than statewide, plus the model of former First District Attorney Paul Carmouche using a similar strategy in 2008 who came within a whisker of pulling it off demonstrating its capacity to triumph, Democrats legitimately can hope that Jones can take the honor.

Of course, three major differences between the Edwards strategy and the environment in the district dull their chances. First, in Louisiana national office electorates tend to skew more Republican than statewide state office voters, by about three percentage points. Second, GOP candidates in last year’s governor’s race turned on each other, and particularly on the strongest of them, in unprecedented vicious fashion unlikely to repeat itself any time soon. Third, national issues on which Democrats have the most difficulty in Louisiana obviously played little role in that statewide office election.

That final factor explains the tack taken by the Jones campaign. Edwards could avoid revealing his very liberal views on a number of issue preferences outside the realm of social policy as they addressed national subjects, but Jones if asked cannot. For example, during the debate, which all five of the competitive Republicans attended, each roundly criticized the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and pledged significant changes to it, if not its repeal. This appears in line with Louisianans’ view where large majorities oppose it.

But Jones apparently doesn’t know the law exists. Perusing the part of his website devoted to issues, nothing at all addresses health care other than peripheral references to Medicare and veterans. And while it has a lot of catchphrases about “equal pay,” “bring more jobs,” “a balanced budget,” “fix roads,” “get the health care and retirement security you earned,” and “provide a safety net,” Jones never explains how he would pay for all of this and balance a currently significantly unbalanced budget – because he will not admit he must support increased taxes to do this, with tax policy a subject also absent from his list.

However, his issue list gives heaping doses of “pro-life,” a “lifelong track record of supporting and engaging law enforcement,” “fight for both the oil and gas industry and for common sense environmental policies,” “a life long hunter, I believe that this right [Second Amendment] is important and should be protected,” and “stand for a strong military.” These statements echo his television advertisements that mention little else.

Which avoids inconvenient questions that could come up in a candidate forum that could expose who and what Jones supports, such as:
·       Would you repeal Obamacare?
·       Would you raise taxes to balance the budget?
·       In order to balance the budget, how would you spend more to keep a strong military and fix roads?
·       Would you raise taxes and/or curtail benefits for some to avoid coming Social Security or Medicare bankruptcy?
·       Do you support the Obama Administration’s plans to regulate greenhouse gases and opposition to the Keystone pipeline?
·       Do you support Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s proposed gun control proposals?
·       Which party’s candidate did you vote for president in 2012 and will vote for in 2016?
A majority of voters in this district probably would not like his answers to most if not all of these questions, but Jones seeks never to have to give these. He counts upon his GOP opponents to cooperate by wanting to get into a runoff with him so they will attack each other and leave him alone – just as what happened with Edwards. Lightning seems unlikely to strike twice, but Democrats in the Fourth District hope it does again.

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