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|What was Melancon promised?|
A candidate for public office who levels personal attacks against his opponent is not out of the ordinary in politics in America.
That's especially true in a high-stakes affair such as a U.S. Senate campaign when a candidate challenges an incumbent in a state where a majority of the voters have much in common with the incumbent as far as their thinking politically goes.
It is out of the ordinary, though, for a challenger to kick up the dust, so to speak, prior to qualifying. Usually, the dust kicking or mud slinging or whatever you want to call it doesn't get under way in earnest -- publicly, that is -- until about 60 days prior to election day. That's when voters traditionally begin tuning in to a race.
Yet, leave it to Louisiana to break the mold. Again.
We've broken it -- again -- evidenced by a steady stream of rather pointed campaigning on behalf of Congressman Charlie Melancon, the sacrificial Democrat who agreed to challenge Sen. David Vitter, a Republican from Metairie who's seeking a second term in office.
Obviously short of issues to undermine Vitter in a traditional sense, the Melancon camp, which would include the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the state Democratic Party, rolled the dice months ago. They rolled them -- repeatedly -- by blistering Vitter for a past indiscretion and an aide's inability to control his temper. All of it is rather boorish, but when you're trailing big-time in just about every poll conducted on the race, like Melancon is, all is fair, or fair game. In other words, Melancon's back is against a wall and as the challenger he must chip away at Vitter's advantage at every turn or fold the tent and call it a day.
Make no mistake, Vitter has made a number of mistakes, assuming we're keeping score on the number of times a candidate's personal behavior and that of a trusted aide are concerned, or compared to what is acceptable behavior among public officials these days. Vitter hasn't made any mistakes, though, in communicating his positions on everything that matters to the people who matter most -- the voters.
Vitter is a conservative in the truest sense of the word, and Louisiana voters know it. A majority of the voters in Louisiana are self-identified conservatives or they lean to the Right. Either way, they're Vitter voters on any election day against any Democrat in a state that overwhelmingly said "no" to Barack Obama and all of that nonsense about "Yes We Can" or "Change We Can Believe In" or whatever it was.
Louisiana voters also know that Vitter opposed or opposes just about anything and everything Obama and Democrats in the Congress have peddled to the American people. Or shoved down our throats void of a rational debate of its merits.
On the other hand, many voters throughout the state don't know Melancon. They may recognize his name, and they may know he's a congressman who represents a district in southeastern Louisiana. Beyond that, voters don't know much about him because he hasn't exposed himself to them.
That will change in the not-too-distant future. Qualifying for this fall's Senate race takes place this week. Full-blown campaigning is just around the corner.
In the coming weeks, we'll see more of the candidates. Melancon will attempt to define his image for voters to consume. If he handles it just right, he possibly could make the Senate race in Louisiana an interesting one to follow.
Meanwhile, you can take it to the bank that Vitter will enlighten the electorate about what Melancon has voted for and against during his short tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives. Try as he might, Melancon will never shake that pro-Obama label. Remember, Melancon has voted for Obama-backed measures 84 percent of the time.
Guilty by association would be a proper assessment of their relationship.
And that begs a question.
What was Melancon promised in order to give up a safe House seat to take on an incumbent U.S. senator, assuming Melancon fails to unseat Vitter?
A job in the Obama administration?
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