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Senate pipsqueak hopefuls imagine conspiracies

The B-Team of Louisiana’s 2016 U.S. Senate race seems moving right along from the absurd to the paranoid in response to selections by the Council for a Better Louisiana’s Oct. 18 debate, to be covered by Louisiana Public Broadcasting.

It started with minor candidate Democrat Josh Pellerin fulminating against pollsters for usually not including his name in their choices. Now it’s other minor candidates spinning additional wild tales of conspiracy that purportedly keep them out of these televised forums.

If you’re a down-on-you-luck lawyer, better hook up with no party former legislator Troy Hebert, because he’ll throw plenty of frivolous business your way. Having already sued a pollster for not identifying him in a survey as without party, later dropping that, now he’s suing CABL and LPB for excluding him from the debate. CABL rules, changed this year, do not unreasonably outline that it will invite candidates who have polled at least 5 percent in an independent survey and who have raised a million bucks for election.

But maybe if you were lawyer – he acts as his own attorney on this – you’d tell not to waste his time making accusations of an “unfair, biased and unconstitutional” forum that “undermines [CABL’s and LPB’s] core missions and the very reason for their existence…. This forum's criteria will use [LPB-appropriated] taxpayer money to promote the rich candidates and shut out the poor candidates.” Constitutional law on this matter was settled long ago.

11 CFR 110.13 contains Federal Communication Commission regulations issued pursuant to the law about broadcast media coverage of debates. It says that any nonprofit organization which does not endorse, support, or oppose political candidates or political parties may conduct one that may be staged and covered by any broadcasters (including a cable television operator, programmer or producer), bona fide newspapers, magazines and other periodical publications provided that these are not owned or controlled by a political party, political committee or candidate. Finally, staging organizations must use pre-established objective criteria to determine which candidates may participate in a debate.

CABL meets these qualifications. LPB meets these qualifications. CABL had established objective criteria. Case closed – and especially because state law covers none of this and he filed his suit in state court.

He’s not the only one aggravated over the invitation list. 2014 Senate candidate Republican Rob Maness also fumed over not making it. While Hebert alleges shadowy, powerful interests try to keep down the little guy and him – as if these forces even existed that they would care at all about a political pipsqueak like Hebert – Maness envisions a political vendetta against him by CABL because it supported the Common Core education standards and he didn’t.

That’s quite an imagination: CABL honchos up at night unable to sleep, wringing their hands over Maness and Common Core differences that they decide require such drastic action as rigging debate participation standards against him. What two years ago had the potential to go from vanity to serious candidacy officially has devolved into a joke with this revelation of Maness’ questionable judgment on the matter.

As in the case of Pellerin, both Hebert and Maness need to face the truth: none are saviors of the people with agendas to match, and there’s no conspiracy out there that prevents the people from realizing this and swooning to support them. Rather, on one or more of their platforms or people’s perceptions of their experience or leadership abilities, the vast majority of the public finds them wanting in comparison to the alternatives.

In politics, simply enough quality candidates attract sufficient support – from donors, volunteers, and intended voters – to be competitive. If you don’t, you’re not one and no amount of stunts like Hebert’s or caterwauling like Maness’ can change that – although those kinds of responses do boost your ego as you try to ignore the fact that the fault for your relatively poor showing comes not from the stars, but from yourselves.

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