Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

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Sunday, May 04, 2008
Good news and bad news for Democrats in Louisiana House race
The good news for Democrats is that yet another Republican House seat changed hands yesterday, as a long-held Louisiana House seat switched to the D column. The bad news, is that to win the seat, the candidate had to put miles of distance between himself and the party's potential standard-bearer:
Don Cazayoux, a state representative, defeated Woody Jenkins, a small-newspaper publisher and former legislator long associated with religious-right causes in Louisiana, by 49 percent to 46 percent, in a tight race for a seat left open by the retirement of Richard Baker, a Republican.

Mr. Cazayoux portrayed himself as little different from Mr. Jenkins on social issues, overcoming the Republicans’ depiction of him as a “liberal” in lock step with figures like the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and Senator Barack Obama, who shared billing with him in a barrage of Republican attack advertisements.

...Mr. Cazayoux, a low-key member of the State House and a former prosecutor, fit the conservative model Democrats deployed successfully in the 2006 elections when they took seats from Republicans. He was close to Mr. Jenkins on social issues like abortion and guns; he spoke approvingly of Senator John McCain; he rarely if ever mentioned the Democratic presidential candidates; and he suggested he would buck his party if the district’s interests seemed to call for it.

Mr. Jenkins and the Republicans, on the other hand, sought to tie Mr. Cazayoux to his party’s national standard-bearers at every opportunity, especially Ms. Pelosi. Television advertisements paired Mr. Cazayoux with Mr. Obama, and called him a “liberal” — a description that fit uneasily with Mr. Cazayoux’s voting record in the State House of Representatives. He raised nearly twice as much money as his Republican rival, his fund-raising bolstered by Congressional Democrats eager to take the seat.
Lesson for the Dems: a "50 state strategy" won't work in November. There are clearly places -- mainly in the old, Republican South, where Barack won't be able to help candidates win, and where instead, he (with Rev. Wright and all the other media/talk radio driven drivel) will be used against Democrats. Of course, the Louisiana race proves the tactic won't always work, but Team Obama would be wise to pick a running mate who would be more useful in parts of the country outside the South, where the southern political model will be in play (I'm thinking rural Pennsylvania, Ohio and the like, since the Dems aren't winning back the South -- not this year, and certainly not with a black candidate, though Virginia could be an exception, giving the changing demographics there. Outside of that state, the South isn't THAT evolved...)


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