Politics 08.13.2008

Kennedy's cheap, Acadiana businessmen back Landrieu and more KENNEDY: I’M CHEAP
Republican U.S. Senate Candidate John Kennedy has launched his first TV ad in his bid to unseat two-term incumbent Mary Landrieu. Kennedy’s message: I’m cheap — like bologna sandwich brown bag lunch cheap. The ad shows Kennedy toting a paper bag lunch along with his briefcase, his wholesale loafers squeaking down the hall, and stooping to pick up a loose penny up off the floor on the way into his office. Over scenes of Kennedy working at his desk, the ad cites the state treasurer’s investment savvy and frugal debt management. Kennedy then pulls a sandwich out of his bag to eat at his desk, saying, “Cheap, maybe we could use a little of that in Washington.” Titled “brown bag,” the ad is now running statewide.

Trying to counter Landrieu’s Senate seniority, Kennedy is making Washington spending run amuck a major plank of his campaign’s platform. He has previously criticized Landrieu on the issue of earmark spending, which he pledges to reform. In other campaign news, Landrieu has launched a new commercial of her own, the first negative ad in what is expected to be a heated race. Landrieu’s ad, titled “Spinning,” lampoons Kennedy’s opportunistic switch to the Republican Party last year and his multiple runs for higher office, labeling him “one confused politician.”

More than a dozen business leaders from Acadiana threw their support behind Sen. Mary Landrieu’s re-election bid last week, touting the senator’s pro-business record and seniority. In an apparent snub to former-Democrat-turned-GOP candidate John Kennedy (who switched to the  Republican Party in 2007 after years as a Democrat) the group included several influential Republicans. Among them, Blueprint Louisiana founders Bill Fenstermaker and Clay Allen, and Merlin Oil & Gas President Mark Miller. “This is not a race about Republican or Democrat,” Allen says. “This is a race about demonstrated leadership.” Adds Miller: “Sen. Landrieu has been a friend to the IPAA (Independent Petroleum Association of America) for many years. She has been there in the tough votes, and we always knew we could count on her.”

Last week, Landrieu also won the endorsement of the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association. Although the state’s sheriffs traditionally back Democrats — with the notable exception of GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal — LSA Executive Director Hal Turner says seniority is what pushed Landrieu over the top. “With the loss of other senior members of our Louisiana delegation this year, now, more than ever, we need Sen. Landrieu’s experience and seniority in Congress so that she can continue making a difference in our state,” Turner says.

Leonardo Alcivar, Kennedy’s communications director, says last week’s LSA endorsement wasn’t unexpected, given the historical leanings of the LSA. He framed it as a minor announcement. “Endorsements from associations are meaningless,” Alcivar says. “Mary Landrieu may be popular with party bosses and association higher-ups, but we know that sheriffs who are fighting on the front lines will be standing with John Kennedy in November.”

While crime and law enforcement issues haven’t become a hot topic in the campaigns, Kennedy says they’re included in the subject matter he wants to address in debates against Landrieu. More than a month ago, Kennedy called on Landrieu to participate in debates in every congressional district. Landrieu’s campaign responded by referring to a statewide tour Landrieu is currently taking to discuss voter issues. Landrieu campaign spokesman Scott Schneider also reminded Kennedy that lawmakers still have work to do. “Sen. Landrieu looks forward to a series of debates with Mr. Kennedy in October when the important work of this Congress is completed,” Schneider says.

Coming up on the 2008 elections, Louisiana continues to buck the trend of voter registration numbers from across the country. The New York Times recently examined registration statistics from states across the country and found the Bayou State an anomaly. It’s one of only three states where Democrats failed to post gains compared to 2004 and the only state where Republican registration grew by more than one percentage point while Democratic numbers declined.

Louisiana’s registration stats are undoubtably skewed by the 2005 diaspora caused by Hurricane Katrina. According to statistics posted on the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Web site, from November 2004 to August 2008, the state’s overall number of registered voters has declined 1.4 percent, from 2,923,295 to 2,881,158. The number of registered Democrats is down 6 percent, from 1,618,431 to 1,518,158. Registered Republicans are up 4 percent, from 700,691 to 732,742. “Other” party candidates, including independents, rose a combined 5 percent, from 604,273 to 639,258.
Contributors: Jeremy Alford and Nathan Stubbs_