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Vitter shadow challengers for now banking only on hope

Whisper campaigns to encourage Republicans to run against Sen. David Vitter in the 2010 primary probably will come to naught considering Vitter and the present objects of these desires.

Tony Perkins, former state legislator and for the past few years the head of the Family Research Council, admitted the job had been suggested to him. Similarly, former member of the U.S. House John Cooksey gave his assent to have people begin fundraising on his behalf for pursuit of the office. For over a year, Sec. of State Jay Dardenne has done nothing to discourage speculation that he will run for the office as well. All of this has come about because of Vitter’s admission last year of a “serious sin” that appears related to a prostitution ring which has led some to believe Vitter now is vulnerable to a successful challenge.

This appears to be wishful thinking on at least some people’s behalf. The whole premise to the vulnerability thesis is that the widespread perception that Vitter cavorted with call girls will make enough supporters ignore everything else about Vitter’s service as senator and base their vote on that. For the fact is, on nearly every issue Vitter has faithfully and genuinely reflected the preferences of anywhere from slim to large majorities in the state, and with a large campaign budget (he’s got plenty) he can make sure in any campaign that his record will not be ignored.

Further, Vitter has the advantage of incumbency. He can point to an actual record as senator, one favorably viewed by a majority of the state, whereas these unannounced challengers can only speak of hypothetical acts or doings from their own legislative careers largely unrelated to those of a senator. This is especially relevant given these would be primary challenges where these purported opponents could not claim to be any more, and may be not even as, conservative as Vitter. Nor can they claim a special “outsider” status as a merit badge against the “establishment,” as in Pres. Barack Obama’s America Vitter already is about as outsider as one can get.

And each of these three names has its own negatives. Perkins failed in a previous Senate bid and having been out of state for awhile may be seen as too much of a Washington insider and Louisiana outsider. Cooksey also lost a Senate try and comes from the sparsest-populated area of the state having been out of the public eye for seven years. Dardenne is considered by many conservative Republicans to have gone too easily with the tax-and-spend winds when he was in the state Senate.

But the problem all will face is that the only issue that they really can distinguish themselves positively from Vitter on presumably is “character,” and, given Vitter’s record and experience, that’s not enough to make them more electable than Vitter against a Democrat opponent. They know that, and this is why all are being coy about a candidacy. The measured approach they are taking is that a swell of enthusiasm and/or fundraising will provide a definitive positive signal to run. If they especially don’t get substantial commitments financially, they’ll stay on the sidelines.

As long as Vitter has no problem raising money and there’s no apparent congruent reaction accompanying any other shadow candidate, when actual qualification comes Vitter’s not going to face a quality challenger in the GOP primary.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Much time and treasure would be wasted by Republican challengers to Vitter. Same for democrats but I don't mind that. Used to think Meloncon was a Blue Dog conservative but after his vote and comments on the "stimulus" bill, he's just a dog. The state republican party has a fine record of botching sure thing elections so I guess they'll continue trying to get a Repub to challenge Vitter...