Search This Blog


GOP candidates, activists worry about Gorman weakness

It’s unusual that Republican candidates attack one another prior to a party primary, particularly when the eventual nominee will face a competitive Democrat in a conservative district. It is unprecedented when two of them jointly make disparaging remarks about another, but that’s the situation with the 4th Congressional District contest.

Minden physician Dr. John Fleming and Bossier City lawyer Jeff Thompson separately have issued similar statements expressing dismay with Shreveport trucking executive Chris Gorman’s campaign, in essence calling it misleading. Some background is in order.

Fleming and Gorman long ago contemplated a run for the office and began the groundwork for it. As they politicked Republicans after incumbent Republican Rep. Jim McCrery announced his retirement, some were not taken by either – Fleming because of some actually well-reasoned but, at least to the Louisiana voter, controversial issues (such as minor privatization of Social Security) that might detract from his candidacy in the general election, and Gorman because some aspects of his background were judged to make him largely unelectable in this district.

After some recruitment by these folks, Thompson finally came onto the scene, really nothing much more than a new alternative since on 90 percent of the issues all three agree. But his late entry, the waning influence of the main force behind his candidacy, McCrery and his allies, and that he is perceived as the “establishment’s” anointed candidate in an election cycle where that may not go over too well have not translated into as much support as they would like. Only a few polls’ numbers have been released that since the middle of June most often show Fleming leads, Gorman behind, and Thompson trailing.

What must be understood here is that personality and the ability to define oneself as a candidate, given the similar issue preferences on which all would be acceptable to Republicans, therefore is the primary concern of Republicans to put up the best candidate possible in terms of image against former First Judicial District Attorney Paul Carmouche, the prohibitive favorite for the Democrat nomination.

Carmouche has little going for him – a largely undistinguished tenure in office with some grumbling about its quality – except that he’s a familiar face and can credibly sound conservative on a limited range of issues in order to inoculate himself from the fact that he will support most of a very liberal agenda in Washington, an ideology profoundly out of step with the district’s majority. Further, he already is polling in a way that indicates he plans on running an extremely negative general election campaign, as a distraction from this reality.

Therefore, the GOP nominee must be a solid conservative who won’t give ammunition to a negative campaign about themselves that will throw them off the message tying Carmouche to his liberal Washington masters. It’s with Gorman that district Republicans are concerned Carmouche could do the most damage.

Simply, it will be an easy contrast for Carmouche to make, his long service in office with Gorman’s leaving the area for many years apparently having little to do with his present position, itself seeming to all the world to be a coming home gift from his family. Worse, the solid conservative credentials he needs seem undermined by the fact he was not a Republican for many years, donated in recent years to a Democrat’s congressional campaign in Oklahoma, and only reregistered to vote as a Republican in 2005. Even his integrity could be under fire for his claim he had obtained an executive M.B.A. at Harvard because the school does not verify this, and it is a stretch to say he created hundreds of jobs at the family’s trucking firm, making Gorman look unprincipled by saying whatever he needs to get elected.

(Gorman now claims he never said he received this degree. However, the revelation that he was fined $200 for trespassing as a teenager Fleming argues would reflect poorly if his opponent was ex-DA Carmouche.)

These things no doubt were noticed long ago by Democrats strategists and they would greatly incapacitate Gorman’s ability to draw issue-laden differences with Carmouche who has a war chest as ample as any candidate in the contest that could obscure this tactic. One could write off the Thompson campaign’s criticism as strategy of a trailing candidate (Thompson’s camp claims that he’s close to the others, but never has released results to support that contention), but that front-runner Fleming’s has joined in shows a number of GOP activists are worried that a Gorman nomination forwards a politician too vulnerable to win.

At this point, it appears a tactical, tacit alliance has been made between Fleming and Thompson in the hopes they can ace Gorman out of the runoff. Should they fail, it will be no surprise at all if the loser endorsers the other. Plaguing GOP minds particularly is a runoff with Gorman would be primarily a negative campaign – not what is needed with Carmouche sharpening his knives all the while.


Anonymous said...

John Fleming is an embarassment to the Republican Party. Confusing the difference between a candidate pointing out where they differ on issues and negative campaigning he launched an attack on Gorman. His negative TV commercial which attacks Gorman for previous tax liens is very hypocritical since he has had them himself. Fatally flawed as a candidate due to his controversial immigration proposal, Fleming has turned this election into a circus.

Anonymous said...

John Fleming has been nothing but an honest man. Chris Gorman has lied about his background and calls households to say he is the only candidate who is 100% pro life. Wow that's news to me!!

Chris Gorman will say and do anything to win this election even if it means spending all of his family's money. If he becomes the nominee, the republicans can only blame themselves because they will get what is coming for them.