The latest news from the Don Cazayoux campaign: Democrat Cazayoux leads Republican Woody Jenkins in the race to succeed retiring Rep. Richard Baker in Louisiana's 6th District. From Roll Call (subscription only):
With almost three weeks to go before his special election in the 6th district, state Rep. Don Cazayoux (D) led former state Rep. Woody Jenkins (R) 49 percent to 42 percent, according to an internal poll released by Cazayoux’s campaign on Monday.
The poll of 500 likely special election voters was conducted by Anzalone Liszt Research April 8-10 and comes one week after Cazayoux released a March survey that showed him beating Jenkins 49 percent to 44 percent.
The GOP's own internal polling shows Cazayoux ahead as well, a rather remarkable situation for a R+6.5 district.
The Cook Political Report has moved their ranking of this race to "Leans Democratic". I think that is slightly optimistic-I'd call it a tossup at best-but it underscores the strength of Cazayoux's candidacy and his legitimate chance to win this seat and hold it.
If Cazayoux does manage to take the seat, he's in excellent position to hold it for the future. No incumbent Louisiana Representative from either party has been defeated by a member of the opposing party since 1890; every Louisiana seat which has changed hands in that time has been due either to retirement, or a successful primary challenge. That's bound to change sooner or later, especially as Louisiana is no longer a one-party state (as it was for most of the 20th century), but it's quite noteworthy nonetheless.
Naturally, the Republicans don't want to surrender a Republican seat (especially given the power of incumbency in Louisiana) without a fight. But with the NRCC barely treading water financially, and Jenkins' own fundraising dwarfed by Cazayoux's, they've been forced to call in the hit squad: Ari Fleischer's own Freedom's Watch.
Freedom’s Watch, a conservative advocacy group founded by former Bush administration officials last year, has bought advertising time on Baton Rouge television stations today – signaling a willingness for the upstart organization to help Congressional Republicans hang onto some of their more vulnerable seats.
The ad, scheduled to begin airing tomorrow, attacks state Rep. Don Cazayoux, the Democratic nominee running for former Rep. Richard Baker’s (R-La.) seat. Cazayoux is facing former GOP state Rep. Woody Jenkins in the May 3 special election.
The New York Times has some background on this happy gang of would-be Republicans saviors:
The conservative group Freedom’s Watch, headlined by two former senior White House officials, had been expected to be a deep-pocketed juggernaut in this year’s presidential election, heralded by supporters on the right as an aggressive counterweight to MoveOn.org, George Soros and the like.
But after a splashy debut last summer, in which it spent $15 million in a nationwide advertising blitz supporting President Bush’s troop escalation in Iraq, the group has been mostly quiet, beset by internal problems that have paralyzed it and raised questions about what kind of role, if any, it will actually play this fall.
Freedom's Watch does have some money to play with, so they could be something of a factor in this race. As the Times reports, they have had serious problems figuring out any plan of action thus far, so they've been pretty quiet.
It figures, though, that if they can unite around one candidate, Jenkins is that guy. He's the perfect Republican for the new era, equal parts Club for Growth and Focus on the Family. And needless to say, he has absolutely no intention of making government work for anyone:
In a Febuary 1995 speech delivered to the conservative group The Council for National Policy at Rancho Mirage, California, Jenkins advocated the abolition of the Departments of Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Energy and Education as well as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Legal Services Corporation.
"We want to do away with the programs, the bureaucrats and the cost of these agencies," Jenkins said.
A cursory review of the programs provided by the aforementioned departments provides a view of what Louisiana would have lacked in hurricane relief had Jenkins and his cohorts had their way before the first time we deemed him unfit to serve in national public office.
For example, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has provided tireless effort administering more than $11 billion in Community Development Block Grants. Their government Web site claims they are "helping thousands rebuild their homes and enabling communities to restore damaged public housing, promote affordable rental housing, and restore critical infrastructure."
You know, if we had just abolished HUD all those years ago, Katrina recovery would be so much easier now, right?
This is the Right's Chosen One, the one guy that Freedom's Watch can unite behind.