Eating with the Enemy: Vitter chastises opponent for having dinner with Wayne Elmore

by Nathan Stubbs

Senator David Vitter smells a conspiracy cooking. Senator David Vitter smells a conspiracy cooking. In a campaign bulletin to supporters on Friday, Vitter calls his Republican primary opponent Chet Traylor nothing more than a "tool and stalking horse" for the main Democrat in the race, Congressman Charlie Melancon. His evidence? Traylor was seen having dinner with Democrats who are trial lawyers in North Louisiana and with Melancon supporter Wayne Elmore at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Lafayette.

"Who's Wayne Elmore?" Vitter asks in his email. "Just Charlie Melancon's single biggest contributor, fundraiser, and fraternity brother. He and his family have directly given Melancon over $50,000. So much that Melancon made him King of the Washington Mardi Gras Ball."

Elmore is well known in Acadiana's business community as a top executive with media company ComCorp and for resurrecting and reintroducing Mello Joy Coffee Company. Vitter says the Lafayette businessman was spotted with Traylor at the popular local steakhouse  last Tuesday - gossip too juicy for Vitter to resist broadcasting three days later.

In the Friday email, headlined "Mud Alert!," Vitter told supporters that Traylor was preparing to launch an attack campaign against him, starting as early as Tuesday. "Vicious attacks are about to start," the message reads, "and Charlie Melancon is clearly behind the push. "He's desperate to use his 'Republican' attack dog to try to change the dynamics of his losing campaign and to talk about anything but his own record." In addition to eating with Democrats, Traylor also is accused of employing political consultant Roy Fletcher, who has worked for candidates from both parties. Vitter adds: "This isn't just guesswork or speculation."

State Democrat have seized on the email, questioning Vitter's paranoia. State Democratic Party Communications Director Kevin Franck writes in response: "First, David Vitter endorsed the debunked right-wing fairytale about the president's citizenship, now he imagines that Chet Traylor is at the center of some vast conspiracy against him. I'm not sure whether his next email will be about crop circles or the Kennedy assassination, but I can't wait."

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