Let the games begin: Congressional committees launch the Lousiana war

For the third time this cycle, the DCCC has forced the hand of its GOP counterpart. After OH-05 and IL-14, the two congressional committees are now engaged in an all-out battle for the special election in Louisiana's very conservative 6th district, featuring Republican Woody Jenkins and Democrat Don Cazayoux.

As recently as Tuesday, the GOP was supposedly considering giving up on Jenkins; not only are they not confident in his ability to rally moderate Republicans, but they simply do not have the money in the bank to defend yet another seat. But the NRCC apparently realized it could not afford to lose a second seat that George Bush won so handily in 2004. The temptation to stay out evaporated as soon as the DCCC fired the first shot this week with a $111,000 ad buy to air this negative ad against Jenkins.

"Woody’s company was hit with 20 tax liens for failing to pay taxes on time," charges the ad before attacking him on the national sales tax. The DCCC's spot stays away from some of the most controversial issues surrounding Jenkins, particularly his ties with Klansman David Duke. Those connections were actually brought up in the GOP primaries by one of Jenkins's rival, so do not be surprised if Democrats decide to hammer the issue in the run-up to the May 3rd special election.

The DCCC's ad is neither powerful nor catchy. But it is stellar in comparison to the GOP's response spot... With surprising rapidity, the RNCC purchased a $110,000 ad buy today to attack Cazayoux with this spot. The GOP ad is as close to the caricature of a Republican attack ad as it could be. Focused entirely on taxes, it throws in the l-word, lists a litany of taxes Cazayoux allegedly voted to raise in the Louisiana legislature and then attempts a rather weak name-association with the tagline: "Instead of Don Cazayoux... Don Tax you." This slogan/'pun' is then repeated a second time. Even for a conservative district that is weary of liberals, it is a bit too obvious that the Republican ad was produced in a very short amount of time.

Sitting on a massive warchest, House Democrats can afford to test the resilience of Republicans in a variety of districts, even some that are not supposed to be competitive. The GOP has barely been able to respond for now and has already dilapidated a lot of money over the past few months responding to the DCCC's provocations in Illinois and Ohio. The fact that the same scenario is now taking place in Louisiana (and possibly in Mississippi as well, but more on that in the coming days) could put the NRCC's in even greater financial difficulty.

This sequence of events also confirms how difficult the fall could be for House Republicans when all 435 seats will be up for grabs the same night -- rather than this trickle of special elections. If the DCCC uses its huge cash-on-hand to launch attacks ads left and right, the GOP will not be able to respond in many targeted districts; it will have to choose those that look the most salvageable and leave the Republican candidates (or incumbents) to their fate in all others. This also serves to explain why the GOP has been suffering from recruitment difficulties, as potential candidates realize that they will get very little help from the national party.

Meanwhile, things are getting interesting in another very conservative Southern special election, MS-01 (formally held by now-Senator Wicker). This contest is taking place on April 22nd. A few weeks ago, Democrat Travis Childrers and Republican Greg Davis won their party's primaries for the regular election to be held in November, and they are the only ones campaigning for the special election. But the special election has no primaries or run-off (whoever gets the most votes wins) and the ballot will feature the names of the candidates Childrers and Davis defeated in the primaries. Further confusing voters, the ballot is non-partisan.

All of this could certainly lead to surprising results on April 22nd. An internal poll for the Childers campaign shows a 2% toss-up when all names are read. But who knows how many people will go out to vote for those Democrats and Republicans who are no longer running? A Davis victory on the 22nd would make this seat a safe hold for the GOP in November, but if Democrat Childrers manages to benefit from GOP divisions and finds his way to victory he will remain a vulnerable target for Republicans in the fall when only Davis and him will be on the ballot.

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    The GOP is being put on the defensive.

    It has to shell out money for CDs that should be safe, and while it is fighting like hell to hold them, the DEMS open up new battlefields.

    FACIT: The more this game gets played, even in seats where DEMs have only slight chances of winning, the less time the GOP will have to open up battlefields agains the DEMS. Simple math.

    And we need this kind of approach both up-and-down ticket.

    By Blogger Mark, At 11 April, 2008 05:16  

  • I wonder if the RNC (which is the only GOP organization that has better fundraising than its counterpart) will give some money to the GOP House and Senate Finance commitees or are the GOP only playing to win in the presidential election? I tell you McCain would have a hard time (epecially ecnomic wise) with a Dem congress and 2010, which could see a GOP resurgance in Congress, would likely be lessened or not even happen if there is a GOP president, based on historical trends.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 11 April, 2008 07:58  

  • The Dems trying to win seats otherwise forgotten is a vindication of Chairmen Dean's 50 state strategy. Democrats should aspire to be represented in every state not merely the mid-west and the coasts.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 11 April, 2008 08:07  

  • The fifty state strategy is alive and well and the Hillary/Barack show is no small part of it. Tsunami.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 11 April, 2008 17:11  

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