Because they will determine the next Louisiana Second Congressional District representative with the resignation of Democrat Rep. Cedric Richmond, conservatives must choose carefully – if they have any real choice at all.
In that district that spans from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, demographics work against any conservative from winning, barring unusual circumstances. Those actually arose in 2008, when GOP former Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao defeated the indicted incumbent Democrat former Rep. Bill Jefferson, but the district then confined itself to the general New Orleans area. At present, its voter base is 63 percent Democrat and 61 percent black, practically meaning that a liberal black Democrat likely will emerge as the winner.
Maybe. Already two black New Orleans-based Democrat state senators, Troy Carter and Karen Peterson, have said they’ll run. Probable to jump in as well are Democrat New Orleans City Council member Helena Moreno, who’s Hispanic, and far-left black activist Gary Chambers from Baton Rouge. No Republican has indicated a willingness to throw his hat into the ring.
That might change. At best, a GOP candidate would make the runoff, for while Chambers is an afterthought who last year faced a pummeling at the polls in his only attempt for the state legislature and would eke a few percentage points almost exclusively from Baton Rouge, the other three would divide the remainder of the vote sufficiently that probably just one would take the top two slots leading to an inevitable runoff.
Another Baton Rouge-based heavyweight, Democrat state Sen. Cleo Fields, could run. But his limited geographic base more than offsets his previous electoral success sending him to Congress and the state legislature, to which he returned last year after a dozen years of absence. And serving as a bagman for Prisoner #03128-095 created a lasting image that would make his appeal to conservatives about zero.
These dynamics thrust a decision upon conservatives. If any of the three Orleans-based contenders has the potential to cast even some moderate votes in office, then it would make sense to back that candidate and to discourage any Republican from entering the contest. However, if all the major candidates who run for it have gone way around the bend in policy, then conservatives should declare a pox on all houses and back a genuine conservative; to do that when a significantly less-extreme liberal runs probably would ace that candidate out of the runoff, sending a more extreme liberal to Washington.
And when surveying the nascent field, all three appear as extremist retreads. In 2006, Carter and Peterson tried to knock off Jefferson with Carter finishing fifth and Peterson losing to Jefferson in the runoff. In 2008, Carter tried again, with Moreno in the first of the two-cycle experiment of closed primaries (along with the future Rep. Richmond, who finished third). He finished sixth while Moreno advanced to lose the party nomination runoff to Jefferson, who then lost to Cao.
Their alliances and issues don’t suggest any amenability to conservatism. This election cycle, Carter endorsed Democrat Pres.-elect Joe Biden and asserts he would receive Richmond’s endorsement if ever given. Having served for years on the New Orleans City Council, his votes for policies helped accelerate the city’s decline. In the Legislature he has authored standard liberal boilerplate legislation – repeatedly, since it never has a chance of passing – such as minimum wage hikes and to levels that bear no relationship to economic reality and he expresses the typical Louisiana leftist view that the opposite of his policy preferences “divides” while accepting them promotes “unity.” Plus, he would shut down free speech that doesn’t conform to his political agenda, if he could. There is little reason to think in Congress he would give conservative views the time of day.
The same is true about Peterson, who in her two decades-plus in the state Legislature has shown a brutal partisanship married to a scolding, shrewish temperament prone to extremes as demonstrated in her behavior outside the chambers. Famously, in committee hearings and floor debates, she interjects as many partisan comments as possible, and her service as the head of the state party and as one of its national committeewomen (which prevented her from making a presidential endorsement) speaks for itself in terms of her openness to conservatism.
In all his campaigns, Carter has shown little ability to do well outside the narrow confines of his political base. Peterson has shown more electability, but revelation of her gambling problem (which may have prevented her from challenging Jefferson when he became vulnerable in 2008) and the sideshow that produced, plus her overall abrasiveness and hostility to anything not of the far left will limit her appeal.
Then there’s the Trojan Horse Moreno, who at first glance given this field might appeal to the non-left. Her career spent in communication and presenting imagery of herself, has shown she can win city-wide in New Orleans (which the other two haven’t), and from time to time seems reasonable, such as when she became one of the first Democrats to condemn violent misogynist behavior by an elected official in her own party (which neither Carter nor Peterson did without qualification).
But she’s just as out to lunch as the others, having endorsed the lunatic left’s Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris for president and picking up where Carter left off in leading New Orleans to ruin. Conservatives shouldn’t let themselves become fooled because she comes from outside the Orleans political power structure that’s she’s more amenable to their policy preferences.
This field of Democrat peas share the same pod. All would serve equally poorly, so if this ends up the field conservatives should find an acceptable candidate to run. Who knows; odds are a quality Republican would make the runoff and might have a stroke of luck similar to that of 2008 to back in. You can’t win if you don’t play, especially against this rabble.