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Democrat mistakes appear set to cost them more seats

One reason why Louisiana Democrats are becoming an endangered species in the state is they would rather shoot the messenger than comprehend the message. The party’s reaction that led to Rep. Don Cazayoux’s failed reelection bid only demonstrates this and may explain why they are about to let another congressional seat slip from its grasp..

There is a standard Democrat playbook to try to win these seats in the South where solid white conservative majorities exist: get white candidates who can sound conservative on social issues, and take the black vote for granted. As compared to a candidate, black or white, who always unabashedly will vote liberal, this kind of candidate can be relied upon by the party leadership to do so much of the time and has much improved chances of winning since casual voters will be fooled into thinking he is more conservative.

But for this to work, black Democrats have to cooperate. In all, with this kind of candidate they still will get a majority of what they want in policy terms. However, it discriminates against black candidates who find it more difficult to hide their liberalism because, as long as party officials think the district is competitive or there is no other alternative, they will prefer the white candidate. The problem Cazayoux encountered was state Rep. Michael Jackson tired of this condition of servitude in the party, and when narrowly defeated by Cazayoux in the nomination for the special election, struck out on his own as an independent in the regular election.

Jackson did so because he felt slighted by regular power brokers in the party. He had good reason to feel so. Comparing donors to the special election campaigns, a flood of money from Democrat-supporting interest groups and a who’s-who of prominent white Democrats in the state gave to Cazayoux, while Jackson got little in the way of these PAC contributions, from individuals most money came from blacks, and of whites more (although still a fraction of Cazayoux’s total receipts) actually came from Republicans. And while the party in terms of giving remained neutral until after Cazayoux secured the nomination (and then it threw everything it had to him), it is incredibly hard to believe that it was coincidental that the traditional big donors to the party’s candidates would not almost exclusively line up behind Cazayoux if there wasn’t some tacit, perhaps even unspoken, directive from party leaders to support Cazayoux because he better fit the playbook.

There was a good case that the party could have supported Jackson over Cazayoux as a winner in the regular election. Especially with then-Sen. Barack Obama on the ticket as the presidential candidate to stimulate black turnout and the regular election scheduled to coincide with this election, Jackson would have had 30 percent of the vote secured immediately. The district probably had enough white liberals that Jackson could have won under these conditions. The problem was Cazayoux was the more electable candidate for the special election which if won could bring advantages of incumbency to the regular election and deny them to a Republican.

So, Jackson was told to stay in his place and this caused him to bolt. It is particularly humorous to witness the naïveté and/or disingenuousness of Democrat officials to “blame” Jackson for Cazayoux’s loss and to call him a “sellout.” This is because Louisiana Democrats long ago sold out the party’s black voters in its attempt to appear to be something that it isn’t to chase more numerous white votes. Jackson was not the reason Democrats lost the seat, it was the party itself from the internal contradictions of its strategy.

(And it may not even be fair to “blame” Jackson for this defeat. As previously noted, the relatively higher turnout among blacks on Nov. 4 really benefitted Cazayoux more than Jackson. Take away the good luck of the “Obama effect” and the bad luck of the “Jackson effect” and Cazayoux’s reelection was a tossup.)

Saturday, it may happen again, this time without a black politician to take the blame. Former First District Attorney Paul Carmouche, the Democrat nominee, is running the same playbook as did Cazayoux against Republican nominee Dr. John Fleming. Already signs seem to point to Fleming winning, but an additional one confirms the trend: in early voting, in Caddo Parish where whites only slightly outnumber blacks, whites turned out in 3.5 times greater numbers than blacks, and in Bossier Parish where whites outnumber blacks 6:1 the ratio in early voting is over double that (these parishes hold over half of the district’s voters and almost all of the its black citizens). This would indicate not a lot of enthusiasm among blacks for a Carmouche candidacy, and would be the death knell for any chance Carmouche has of winning.

Simply, the white, long-time politician Carmouche seems to be failing to energize the majority bloc of blacks in the Democrat base. The Democrats have nobody to blame but themselves for putting up a candidate they thought could fit a cookie-cutter winning mold instead of a candidate who will address what so many of their constituents want. It failed them in the Sixth District, and it may well fail them in the Fourth.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Democrats answer to their problems will be to change the law to prevent "minor party" candidates and unaffiliated candidates (independents) from getting a "free pass" to the general election.

The biggest irony of it all is that Joseph Cao even has a slight chance to defeat William Jefferson in the 2nd Congressional District. A Republican, Vietnamese-American could possibly represent a district with over 60% African-American population. Truly amazing.

The Democrats will not stand by and allow the citizens to continue this "treasonous" voting. They will simply change the law to prevent it from happening again.