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Little things matter when running for political office

Little, idiosyncratic things can decide why people vote the way they do, and even decide elections, especially at the local level where issues often are deemphasized in favor of personalistic kinds of criteria.

For example, a friend of mine from the past who unfortunately not long ago went on to her reward, Elizabeth Rickey, ran for the Republican State Central Committee in 1988 when we lived at the opposite ends of House District 93. These are very low turnout elections and of course both of us voted for her and I also got my building manager, who had no idea of the contest, to do the same only at my behest. In a three-way race, she won by three votes out of 356. Later, she used her position on the RSCC to question very properly David Duke’s legitimacy as a conservative Republican which was instrumental in uncovering him as a fraud.

House District 5 is having a special election to replace retired Wayne Waddell. Two Republican candidates, banker Harold Turner and lawyer Alan Seabaugh are vying to replace him. Seabaugh ran in 2007 against state Sen. Sherry Smith Cheek for her job and by dumping a lot of his own money into the contest almost knocked off the incumbent insider.

On the surface, the candidates sound the same themes and rhetoric. But temperament also matters, because one would hope their elected representatives make sound judgments. Rash statements often leave an unfavorable impression.

Which is why I never forgot about a post to a college baseball fan message board in 2002. My brother sent me a link of where he had posted 10 reasons why his alma mater, Rice University, was going to win its upcoming super-regional (best two-of-three games) with LSU. This drew a vigorous response from username “Seatiger,” which started off by calling him a “moron” in the subject line and never got better. The name associated with that handle was Alan Seabaugh. I can’t with absolute certainty say it was this candidate Alan Thomas Seabaugh but how many Alan Seabaugh’s went to LSU, as did the candidate for his two degrees?

Of course, Jonathan was right and Rice swept the series with a pair of shutouts. While it appears Seabaugh’s judgment, if I have the correct one, is not so good about analyzing college baseball, that doesn’t necessarily correlate to his political judgment. Still, the intemperate nature of that note means if I lived in that district seeing that name on the ballot would have me head in another direction.

As undesirable as lack of calm temperament is in a candidate, outright flouting the law is another. One of the three Republicans running for the Bossier School Board District 12 slot, Katherine “Kay” Padgett Byrd, had a number of signs appearing in illegal spots. There’s a lot of gamesmanship in the placing of small signs on public property – a common tactic is for them to mushroom along divided roads right before election day – but it’s discouraging when there are blatant violations long before election day in residential areas.

The Unified Development Code for Bossier Parish that includes Bossier City in Art. 8 Sec. 2 Paragraph 2I states that in residential areas the maximum square footage for a campaign sign is nine. In three residentially-zoned places I witnessed signs of hers that exceeded that, and there may have been more. One of her opponents that I talked to said he was aware of this but her campaign was doing nothing about it.

After a couple of weeks, I contacted the Byrd campaign myself. I reached the candidate who said “somebody from Bossier City” told her the larger signs were permissible. I informed her of the presence of the regulation and urged her to investigate it. While sometimes these rules aren’t obvious, we should expect someone serious enough about wanting and capable enough to run government would have the initiative to find out about them, and, even if discovering them after the fact, to follow them.

Days later, as of press time, the signs remain up. Meaning the question that District 12 voters must ask is whether they want somebody elected who deliberately breaks the law in her campaigning. Recall Luke 16:10: if she does so with small matters like this, what does that mean for the far greater matters that she would face as an elected official? At least Shreveport mayoral candidate City Councilman Bryan Wooley, prodded by judicial proceedings, realized he was not being Solomonic by dividing illegally-large signs and removed them.


Debbie said...

If you can;t be sure it was the candidate Alan Seabaugh, then I question the judgement of publishing this as well as mentioning it in the FAXnet. Would you risk harming someone's good name over a perceived slight regarding college sports?

Anonymous said...

I used to be friends with Alan Seabaugh. His used the handle "Seatiger" on the Tiger Rant at So, you are absolutely correct Jeff.

I would also add that your impressions of Alan's temperament is also dead on. Alan has real temper and ego issues, leaving aside his propensity for dishonesty.

Debbie said...

Thanks Anon- I mean Turner.

I had someone call me tonight from your campaign to tell me that Alan's "firm" sued and harassed Steve Prator, but when I asked if Alan was involved in the actual suit she said she didn't know.

And you complain about misleading campaigning.

Alan is a great guy, I have known him for years. He is not egotistical at all, nor have I ever seen him lose his temper.
Although I have to say- maybe we need some people down there getting pissed off- maybe thats what it takes to get things done. All the level headed guys we have down there now aren't doing much good.

Jonathan Sadow said...

For anyone who's interested, here's the original post that I made to what was at the time the main message board Rice fans used, courtesy of the Internet Wayback Machine. Knowing that LSU sports fans can sometimes take their athletics too seriously (yes, it is possible...), I wrote it in a half-satirical fashion and threw in about a zillion comments that should have made that fact obvious. As may be seen by examining the replies, some LSU fans got it; SeaTiger didn't. Whoever he or she may be, SeaTiger appears to be the type of person who believes everything he or she reads on the Internet.

Mr. Harris Plutocrat said...

Funny to hear Jeff whine about genuine "issues" being "deemphasized in favor of personalistic kinds of criteria." About two days ago you were bragging that politicians shouldn't support any others "unless it helps both the endorser and endorsee politically." Here's a thought, maybe politicians and voters should support politicians with moral timber, not just those whose political star is rising.