Monday, December 12, 2016

Some days the bear eats you

And then John Kennedy is here to tell you what that tastes like.
“For those of you who didn’t vote for me, I want to be your senator too,” Kennedy said in his victory speech at the Embassy Suites hotel in Baton Rouge. Despite differences that were underscored in the campaign, the people of Louisiana share a lot more, he said.

“To a bear, we all taste like chicken,” he said with a chuckle.
Despite the fervor of anti-Trump revulsion present on social media these past few weeks, only about 30 percent of the electorate bothered to show up for the Senate runoff. By comparison, Mary Landrieu lost her 2014 runoff vs Bill Cassidy having received 25,000 more votes than John Kennedy won with on Saturday.  In what I'm afraid may prove to be a lingering pattern here and elsewhere, Democrats were angry but they weren't mobilized.

There are reasons for that which I'm not interested in going into too much detail about here right now. But here is the quick and dirty version. First, the national Democratic Party is too distracted with its own leadership issues to throw a bunch of resources and attention into a long shot race in Louisiana. Campbell benefited from  an influx of money during the runoff. But this was mostly independent national donors and celebrities desperate to DO SOMETHING after the Trump win. The party wasn't really heading that up. But, again, they really weren't in a position to.

Meanwhile, the Louisiana Democratic Party never really saw Campbell as its guy in the first place. I wrote about this during the primary when party insiders were rallying around Caroline Fayard's thoroughly despicable smear campaign against Foster. Subsequently their support for Foster in the runoff was reluctant and lukewarm.

In the future, the Louisiana Democrats are going to have to decide whether they want to be a party that represents the poor and working people of this state or if they want to keep on raising money from wealthy interests in the oil and tourism industries.  There's more to their dislike of Campbell than just this but his outward antagonism towards the oil companies is a bit too reckless for the careerists and fundraisers in their little club.  There's a reckoning to come there. But that's for a later time. In 2016 it just means that there wasn't any will to get out the vote necessary to save this seat.  And now the slimiest empty suit in the state is a US Senator.

The news was better in Orleans Parish where the necessary millages passed and the judicial race went off as well as could be expected.

Elsewhere around the state, matters were different.
In his first bid for public office, Clay Higgins — known as the Cajun John Wayne — defeated political veteran Scott Angelle on Saturday night in the contest to become Acadiana’s congressman.

Higgins, who ran as a tough-talking outsider, soundly beat Angelle, who was the presumptive front-runner since entering the race, by about 7,000 ballots, or 12 percent of the total vote, according to the Secretary of State's complete but unofficial tally.
Not shedding any tears for Angelle but, well, congratulations, LA-03, you've proven once again that we are living in a cuckoo clock.  Here. Meet your new congressman.  He prefers to be paid in cash.
After he became famous in early 2015, Higgins began exploiting his position in the sheriff’s department to sell t-shirts and mugs, negotiate paid talk show appearances, paid speeches, paid advertisements, and even a reality television show, Higgins’ emails reveal. He did all of this on his government email account during work hours without the permission or knowledge of his supervisors. Higgins also appears to have attempted to conceal his earnings from the IRS in order to avoid wage garnishment for unpaid taxes. Whether those actions constitute tax fraud is unclear.

“I get paid 1500 for a television production and a grand for a radio production, plus 150 an hour travel time and an additional grand for a photo session,” Higgins wrote in an email to Tony Morrow, a lawyer in Lafayette, Louisiana, who he had agreed to film television ads for. “That’s a total of 10 grand for the eight productions.”

But Higgins added an unusual request. “I prefer to get paid in cash,” he wrote. “I have my reasons for preferring cash, reasons best discussed, if need be, in person.”

Higgins did not report this money in financial disclosure forms for his campaign.
In any other year, this would be a major national story about goofball Louisiana politics.  Now it's just part of the whole mess.  I don't even know if that's worse or not.

Anyway, look. If you voted, canvassed, phone banked, drove people to the polls, or just yelled at someone for being wrong on the internet  in 2016, you shouldn't let these results discourage you from getting right back at it.  It's been a bad year, but sometimes, very often in fact, the bear does sup on your delicious chickeny goodness. It would be wrong to conclude from this that all we have left to do is continue sinking into authoritarian fascism, the Gulf of Mexico, the plot of Robocop, or whatever nihilistic thing you're certain is right around the corner now.   Those things might, in fact be on the way, but you don't have to sit and wait for them.  We'll be electing a new mayor and city council in 2017. That should give us plenty to think about for a while.

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