Vitter Gets Strongest Challenger in Melancon

We have been waiting on this news for a long while -- at least since June, and as far back as May -- but now it's official: Democratic Congressman Charlie Melancon will challenge Louisiana's scandal-ridden GOP Senator David Vitter in 2010.

Melancon clearly isn't going to be running as a liberal -- he cites his 100 percent rating from the NRA, his business experience, and his work as an advocate for the state's sugar industry -- but he isn't shying away from his party affiliation, either. Indeed, Melancon is the type of Southern Democrat we haven't seen in some time -- moderate to conservative, yes, but also proud to be a Democrat. Back in 2004, before many other Democrats in the region were willing to make the plunge, Melancon ran and won in a toughly fought contest to succeed Billy Tauzin in the House, a race not many predicted he would be able to win (particularly considering that his competition was Tauzin's eponymous son). No doubt this will be a tough race for Melancon. But with all of Vitter's problems during his first term in office, this just might be the type of contest the Democrats might be able to sneak away with in 2010.

Tags: Charlie Melancon, David Vitter, LA-Sen, Louisiana, Senate 2010 (all tags)

Comments

21 Comments

Re: Vitter Gets Strongest Challenger in Melancon

Is he a union supporter at least?  I know Huey Long isn't the best example, but can a person emulate Long's stances on economic issues and win down there?

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2009-08-27 08:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Vitter Gets Strongest Challenger in Melancon

He is a house co-sponsor of EFCA.  He has apparently been publicly open to an EFCA compromise, but I think that that will be necessary for it to pass the Senate even if we gain seats, so I would say on that issue he would be a massive improvement over a conservative Republican like Vitter.

Given his positions on climate change, gay rights, gun issues, and abortion (just to start) it is obvious the netroots shouldn't waste energy supporting him. But it is worth looking at his overall progressive punch ratings: http://www.progressivepunch.org/members. jsp?member=LA3&district=3

Basically depending on the issue her ranges from moderate Dem (unions) to really conservative (abortion.)  Obviously still an improvement over Vitter, and I wish him luck.

by Sam L 2009-08-27 10:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Vitter Gets Strongest Challenger in Melancon

Uh, this guy sounds like a Republican. We have enough crappy Democrats in the Senate.

by Lolis 2009-08-27 08:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Vitter Gets Strongest Challenger in Melancon

I agree with you. I am at a loss for why we should be increasing the ranks of conservative Democrats over focusing on progressive Senators who will build up a progressive coalition in the Senate to match the growing power of the House progressives. That would seem to be a strategy focused on  legislative outcomes. The more Democrats strategy is a strategy for more corporate welfare.

by bruh3 2009-08-27 10:06AM | 0 recs
Melancon voted against healthcare

in the House.  The DSCC should refuse to support him if he votes against healthcare.  

by Kent 2009-08-27 09:17AM | 0 recs
that music was dreadfully slow

but i guess it balances his rough edges

by sepulvedaj3 2009-08-27 09:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Vitter Gets Strongest Challenger in Melancon

Louisiana is a hotbed of diabetes, hypertension, and cancer, like the rest of the Sourth.  Presumably it also has low insurance coverage rates. One assumes that Melancon will have a favorable view of reform efforts?  How could someone like Landrieu vote against it?

by Bob H 2009-08-27 10:19AM | 0 recs
Melancon is strongly against any healthcare change

And it shows up in his votes.  

by Kent 2009-08-27 10:21AM | 0 recs
Re: healthcare

if true, I have no idea why this person is being tauted for support.

by bruh3 2009-08-27 10:36AM | 0 recs
Because the people of Louisiana

have consistently voted AGAINST their own interests. This is one of those places where people voted against those who try to help them.

They're not very swift down there.

by DTOzone 2009-08-27 11:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Because the people of Louisiana

It is easy for them to vote against their  own interest when they are consistently told by both parties that their own interest in found in the conservative answer rather than searching for the right one for the situaiton. So, it is a little interesting, considering Pres Obama's obession with post partisanship and bipartisanship, to read you blame those same people for falling for the tricks that DC plays on them. I blame them too, but I also realize politicians contribute to the confusion they have about policy. One good example is Pres Obama's unwillingness to fully take on the insurance company's as discussed here by Mike Lux and others.

by bruh3 2009-08-27 11:59AM | 0 recs
uh huh

and this explains why people like Gilda Reed, Paul Carmaouche, Wilie Mount, Karen Carter and Jim Harlan lost their bids of Congress despite running as liberals how?

Before you make statements like

when they are consistently told by both parties that their own interest in found in the conservative answer rather than searching for the right one for the situaiton.
you might want to first pay attention to what Democrats who have recently run for office in Louisiana say.

by DTOzone 2009-08-27 01:24PM | 0 recs
Case in point

one state up where Blanche Lincoln is vulnerable because the people of Arkansas think she's TOO LIBERAL

http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/P PP_Release_AR_826424.pdf

Wouldn't Blanche Lincoln be an example of what then "DC bubble" thinks is about right?

by DTOzone 2009-08-27 01:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Because the people of Louisiana

Here's Lux discussing the structure of the health insurance industry as tending toward monopolistic, in part due to laws on the books:

http://www.openleft.com/diary/14818/the- we-can-do-health-reform-without-taking-o n-the-insurance-industry-argument

How much have Democrats focused on explaining this to people?

by bruh3 2009-08-27 12:33PM | 0 recs
You didn't follow

Gilda Reed's campaign in LA-01 last year, did you? Because she made this exact case and won about 20% of the vote.

Paul Carmouche made similar statements and, though he came close, lost his race in LA-04.

Willie Mount ran in a Democratic seat in 2004, made statements like this concerning healthcare and lost 55%-45%.

So I'd say Democrats in Louisiana have spent a lot of time focusing on explaining to people, we just don't see it because they ended up losing.

by DTOzone 2009-08-27 01:33PM | 0 recs
Re: You didn't follow

You point is so utterly random and out of place that it is bares repeating- I am talking about emotions that grow out an environment that is collectively created by many Democrats, including presently President Obama. You can name any number of example, and it will no change the nature of the thesis becaue the thesis is not about anecdotal examples. It is about collective effect. The zeitgeist. Something i don't think you either appreciate or understand.

by bruh3 2009-08-27 07:31PM | 0 recs
Re: You didn't follow

You point is so utterly random and out of place that it is bares repeating- I am talking about dominant emotions fueled by an environment that is collectively created by many Democrats, including presently President Obama, as much as it is by the GOP and people's ignorance.

You can name any number of example, and it will not change the nature of the thesis becaue the thesis is not about anecdotal examples of minor people who buck the trend in the face of natioanl party and other forces reinforcing the trend. It is about collective effect. The zeitgeist of which President Obama is the national narrator as the President.  Something i don't think you either appreciate or understand.

by bruh3 2009-08-27 07:32PM | 0 recs
LOL

My point, about progressive Democrats being defeated in Louisiana while conservative Democrats getting elected, in a conversation about why Democrats in Louisiana are conservative, is utterly random and out of place? ooooooooooooooooooooooook.  

I am talking about dominant emotions fueled by an environment that is collectively created by many Democrats, including presently President Obama, as much as it is by the GOP and people's ignorance.

Do you care to address the fact that many Democrats have NOT fueled these emotions, despite being backed by the DCCC and national Democrats, were defeated, while the ones who do, are elected? Is it President Obama's fault that Willie Mount was defeated in Louisiana despite running a campaign criticizes insurance companies, or Gilda Reed was defeated despite speaking in favor of single-payer healthcare? Do you even know whom I'm talking about? Google, I'll wait.

by DTOzone 2009-08-28 03:58PM | 0 recs
Re: LOL

Were the politic ofs what I describing only limited to one place, your comment might actually make sense. because I am describing a systemic issue across the co untry, of which LA is only one example, it does not.

by bruh3 2009-08-29 01:09PM | 0 recs
Why Progressives Could/Should Support Melancon

kos offered a thoughtful analysis on this point:

But progressives should still cheer his candidacy, and here's why -- the National Republican Senatorial Committee will be forced to spend millions defending this seat, depriving them of funds to target our vulnerable incumbents and aggressively defend their open seats. Millions shipped to Louisiana mean millions less to hit our vulnerable incumbents like Chris Dodd, millions less to defend open seats such as New Hampshire, Kentucky, Ohio, and Missouri, and millions less to defend their vulnerable incumbents like Richard Burr.

Ultimately, kos leans against vocal support for Melancon because he's not a "better Democrat."  I don't think that takes enough of a long view.

kos accurately points out that Melancon's candidacy helps progressives by forcing the NRSC and national GOP donors to focus money on Vitter that they'd rather spend on Ohio, Connecticut, or elsewhere.  (It also forces the GOP to defend Vitter's personal flaws in light of their sanctimony.)

But Melancon will be a frustrating Democrat in the Senate.  I don't think he'd be Ben Nelson flat-out bad.  I think he'd just be John Breaux frustrating.

It might be hard to get fired up about a Melancon candidacy when there are better Dems running in other competitive races, like Joe Sestak and others.

But Vitter is as close to a 100% pro-wingnut, anti-Obama vote as there will be this cycle.  Replacing him with a blue dog Dem is a worthwhile upgrade if a more progressive option is simply untenable.

The key question to ask is which will be harder in the coming years: replacing Vitter with a real progressive in 2016 or convincing a Senator Melancon to come to the left on enough key votes to make it worthwhile.  I think the latter, and not by a small margin.

Beyond that, I see broader value in further demoralizing the GOP by reducing their Senate caucus to the mid-30s.  Assuming that some real health care reform gets passed and unemployment shrinks (as it should in the months ahead as the lagging indicator to the stock market), Dem poll numbers should increase, and Dodd-Reid-Lincoln-Illinois will be increasingly safe.  And pick-up possibilities in New Hampshire, Ohio, Missouri, etc. will look even more favorable.

(On top of which, Dems won't hold the majority forever.  Whoever wins a Melancon-Vitter battle could hold the seat for the next 12 or 18 years or more - I'd hate to give the GOP a Senate majority in the decade by one seat... you get the picture.)

With the Democratic caucus at 60 seats, the Liebermans and Bayhs and Ben Nelsons feel empowered to jerk around.  With 64-65 seats, we reduce their influence - and even increase the weight of primary threats.

And, hey, giving Vitter the boot (and using it as a prelude to give John Ensign the boot in 2012) would be so enjoyable.

It's less exciting to root for someone who's not a progressive champion - but that doesn't mean that Melancon's candidacy and election won't help progressive ends.

by Senate Guru 2009-08-27 12:36PM | 0 recs
The NRSC wont have to spend much on Vitter

Vitter will probably hold double digit leads right until the end.  

by Kent 2009-08-27 04:46PM | 0 recs

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