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|Traylor makes a difference|
Chet Traylor's decision to qualify for the Aug. 28 Republican primary election gave Louisiana Republicans a viable alternative to U.S. Sen. David Vitter.
Scarred by his own indiscretions and those of a trusted aide, Vitter is vulnerable in the eyes of some Republicans, including some well-heeled businessmen. They fear Vitter could lose a general election bout with Congressman Charlie Melancon, the odds-on favorite to secure the Democratic nomination for this fall's U.S. Senate race.
It's not certain what caused those concerned Republicans and wealthy businessmen to prevail upon Traylor to oppose Vitter. Suffice it to say, they possess some disturbing polling information that prompted them to act.
That's a round-about way of how Traylor entered the race. Sort of.
Last fall, Traylor was making plans to challenge Vitter for the GOP nomination. All of that changed when Traylor's wife passed away. As would be expected of any decent man who loses his wife, politics was placed on a back-burner. Until last week.
When Traylor telephoned Friday afternoon, July 9, to say he was en route to the Secretary of State's office to qualify for the Senate race -- less than three hours before qualifying ended -- he spoke like a man who knew he could win. He was energized and focused. Now he must turn that energy and focus toward a roughly six-week party primary race against an incumbent who has a boat load of campaign money on hand to tackle any takers.
It's been 14 years since Traylor waged a campaign. That was in the spring of 1996 when Traylor, a 5th Judicial District Court judge at the time, lost a special election to fill the 4th District seat on the state Supreme Court. In the fall of that year, Traylor got back into the fray for the regular election and beat the man (Joe Bleich) who defeated him in the spring. It was a classic business vs. trial lawyers race.
From 1997 until he retired from the Supreme Court last year, Traylor, now 64 years of age, distinguished himself as a conservative jurist who almost always sided with the business community in rendering opinions from the bench. That made sense since it was the business community that backed Traylor big-time when he was a candidate for the Supreme Court. Besides, Traylor is a conservative.
A former military police officer, state trooper, assistant district attorney and judge, Traylor's conservative roots took hold early in life in his home parish of Caldwell. Though a Democratic stronghold for years, Caldwell is a fairly conservative parish where you're only as good as your word and going back on your word isn't acceptable.
That helps explain why Traylor is the way he is, a straight-shooter through and through. You may not like what he has to say, but you'll walk from any conversation with him knowing exactly where he stands and where you stand with him. What you see is what you get.
While there is no question that Traylor would make a fine U.S. senator, all of it is for naught unless Traylor can raise and spend no less than $1 million over the next six weeks. That's a conservative estimate of how much money it would take for Traylor to conduct an effective campaign against Vitter. A little luck and a minor uprising among Republicans in Louisiana -- men and women alike -- would help, too.
It's doable, though. It's doable because its painfully clear that scores of Republicans are unsure of what Vitter's future may hold, and they're in the hunt to replace him as the party's official candidate for the Nov. 2 general election.
Those Republicans turned their attention to Traylor for obvious reasons. They know that if Melancon pulled off the unthinkable and captured a Senate seat in November, his vote in the Senate would most likely represent another vote in favor of just about anything and everything advocated by President Obama, who is about as popular as the plague in Louisiana.
Traylor's in the race for the same reason, among others.
"I want Louisiana to have a Republican senator," Traylor continued. "Louisiana deserves a better conservative."
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