Friday, December 09, 2016

Too late for a do-over

Or maybe it's too early to start the next argument. The fundamental problem for Foster Campbell in this Senate runoff doesn't have anything to do with John Kennedy.  As we can see from his ads and from the rallies last week and this week, Kennedy's closing argument is all about Trump.

Trump won this cycle in Louisiana. Campbell's challenge was, in the space of a few short weeks, to create a whole new cycle either separate from or in reaction to that.  Plan A would have been to run against Senate Candidate John Kennedy. But that isn't so easy when the guy refuses to debate and hides behind Big Daddy Trump. What does John Kennedy actually believe or stand for?  He hopes never to have to actually answer that question.

Plan B for Campbell would have been to run a Trump reaction campaign; try and turn the incredulity and revulsion against Trump into a way to motivate the disaffected voters who didn't participate in the primary. Send a message. Give Trump a problem in Washington.  Something like that. That's hard to do.  Especially so when the party leaves you hanging.
Campbell's effort hasn't attracted national surrogates or money, which is a sure sign that Democratic leaders think Louisiana, which gave 58 percent of its vote to Trump, is a lost cause. But he's managed to tap into an impromptu network of out-of-state disappointed Democrats looking for one last chance to send some sort of message.

But if they see a Campbell victory as a rebuke to Trump, Campbell's definitely not playing it that way. Instead, he's promising to "stand with the new president when he's right for Louisiana," but have the "courage to say no when he's wrong," as Campbell's highest-profile supporter, Gov. John Bel Edwards, put it in a closing ad.
Campbell's lame fallback is to be with Trump and the Republicans except when he's not. Which is sort of the same noncommittal strategy that got Hillary beat last month. Weird that the Democrats aren't supporting this. 

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