Sunday, July 20, 2008

CenLamar: On Life in Louisiana

In case you missed it, Louisiana Treasurer John N. Kennedy is running for Senate again. The last time he ran for Senate in 2004, he finished third.

But in the political career of John N. Kennedy, 2004 was eons ago.

Back in 2004, John N. Kennedy was a proud Democrat who endorsed Bush’s opponent, John Kerry, for the Presidency. Back in 2004, most Louisianans had a certain respect for Mr. Kennedy. Despite his lackluster showing as a candidate for United States Senate, we still reelected him as our State Treasurer.

Skip ahead to 2007.

In a bizarrely opportunistic move, Treasurer Kennedy, who faced yet another reelection campaign, flew up to Washington, D.C., where he was courted by none other than Karl Rove. Rove allegedly convinced Kennedy to become a Republican in order to challenge Mary Landrieu for the Senate in 2008. Oyster at YRHT noted:

Five weeks after being re-elected State Treasurer, and after airing commercials saying he was running again because “the job’s not finished”, John N. Kennedy is already switching to a new job: replacing Mary Landrieu in the U.S. Senate.

Landrieu’s been busy raising money left and right. She’s also been landing endorsements from local Democrats and Republicans.

Meanwhile, Kennedy seems to be struggling. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is attempting to help him out, but something rings hollow about a group of well-financed national Republican strategists accusing Landrieu of vague ties with shady figures. Just today, Kennedy revealed his stance against state earmarks to non-profits; it will be interesting to see if he follows the party line and opposes federal earmarks of any kind. (We’ll have to wait and see how he balances this issue in a time when Louisiana is most in need).

The clearest sign of Kennedy’s troubles was his recent decision to invite President Bush to help him raise money. Remember, Kennedy, as a Democrat, publicly opposed Bush in 2000 and 2004. But when the going gets tough… you listen to Rove, switch parties, and embrace your former opponents. No doubt, Kennedy is also struggling to raise cash from his former Democratic supporters, and the Bush fundraiser represents a great opportunity to quickly raise a ton of money from a group of wealthy businessmen who would pay (”donate”) thousands of dollars just to be in the presence of the President.

Landrieu’s campaign responds (from The Bayou Buzz and bold mine):

It was announced this week that President George W. Bush will headline a fundraiser for Senator Landrieu’s opponent, Republican John Kennedy. It is expected by many observers that the Bush fundraiser will raise a million dollars for Kennedy’s campaign.

The national Republican leadership in Washington has made it clear for over a year that the Louisiana U.S. Senate seat held by Mary Landrieu is their Number One Target for 2008. They have vowed to spend millions to defeat Senator Landrieu to win this very important election. Bringing in George Bush is part of their strategy.

Remember, too, that candidate Kennedy was recruited to run against Senator Landrieu by Bush’s chief political strategist, Karl Rove. In fact, Kennedy was a Democrat less than seven months ago and had to switch parties before he made this run.

John Kennedy supported John Kerry in 2004 but has now become a Bush Republican and has asked the President to come into the state to raise money for his campaign….

While Washington partisan operatives are plotting an aggressive campaign against her, Senator Landrieu is doing what all good public servants should do: Her job.

Her record of accomplishment proves her effectiveness. In fact, a nonpartisan group,, recently rated her one of the most effective members of the U.S. Senate.”

It will be interesting to see what President Bush has to say when he’s in Louisiana raising money for his candidate. Will he discuss why he vetoed the Water Resources Development Act, which included billions of dollars for vital Louisiana projects? Will he defend the incompetent record of FEMA? Will he explain why his administration has allowed endless red tape and bureaucracy to slow down Louisiana’s hurricane recovery?

The Bayou Buzz also calls attention to a John Maginnis column that reveals Governor Jindal and Senator Vitter will be chairmen of this upcoming fundraiser.

Tagged with: Bobby Jindal, David Vitter, George Bush fundraiser, John N. Kennedy, LA-SEN 2008, Mary Landrieu

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