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Story Archives: A simple election
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|A simple election|
If Democrats were hoping Sen. David Vitter would emerge from the Republican Party primary election a bit weaker than he was when he entered it, their hopes were dashed at about five minutes after the polls closed at 8 p.m. Saturday.
That's how quickly we knew Vitter was on his way to walking away with the GOP nomination for this fall's U.S. Senate race though the eventual outcome of Republican primary -- from qualifying through election day -- was never in doubt. Tallying some 88 percent of the vote by the time all votes were counted state-wide, Vitter sailed out of the primary with a stiff wind at his back, headed for a showdown with Congressman Charlie Melancon. A Democrat from Napoleonville, Melancon managed 70 percent of the vote in his own party primary election against two opponents who basically qualified in July and called it square.
Since Melancon's and Vitter's nominations were never seriously challenged, the candidates honed in on one another weeks ago. We caught a glimpse of it a short while back when Melancon aired a television commercial pointing to a personal problem Vitter has dealt with publicly since 2007, that being Vitter's association with a call girl service in Washington. Melancon's TV commercial also touched on a controversy surrounding a Vitter aide who apparently has a difficult time controlling his temper. Though the latter gave the electorate a new reason to question Vitter's temperament, the controversy involving aide Brent Furer is trivial in the grand scheme of things, so to speak.
Vitter countered the Melancon attack ad with one of his own -- focusing on Melancon's voting record. More specific, the Vitter "spot" informed viewers that Melancon, as a member of the U.S. House, has voted in favor of Obama administration-backed proposals about 85 percent of the time. That's a horrendous figure for Melancon to defend.
From most accounts, though, Melancon is a likeable fellow who gets along well with others. An old back-slapper, if you will. A good Cajun.
I don't know Melancon personally, but I know enough about him to know that his campaign for the Senate faces an insurmountable hurdle. That's the case because he's a Democrat running in a state where the electorate -- by and large -- doesn't like President Obama, and it doesn't approve of the policies the president and a Democratic-controlled Congress have pursued since January 2008, or when all of that silliness about "Change We Can Believe In" got under way in earnest.
Though Melancon has tried his best to distance himself from Obama, maintaining that he can work with Democrats and Republicans alike, he'll never shake the perception that he's tied to the hip of the Democratic leadership in the Congress and the president as well. Remember, perception is reality in politics.
Yet, we should never underestimate Vitter. He's a tenacious campaigner who has perfected the art of connecting with his core constituency, that being serious conservatives. They are an unhappy lot these days and for good reason.
In 2010, though, serious conservatives are not the only voters who are prime for the picking for Vitter. Independents and what we should describe as conservative Democrats are put out with Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership, too. Melancon is guilty by association whether he likes it or not.
After all, this fall's Senate race is not about Melancon or Vitter or corruption or joblessness or the oil spill catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. No, it's about Obama and the direction that he and the Congress are taking the country.
For all practical purposes, Melancon supports Obama.
Vitter opposes him at every turn.
It's that simple.
|Frank Morris Murder Series|