The dysfunctional government situation that exists today in the U.S. Congress has American voters saying, “Throw the bums out.”
Recent polls reveal that 80% of voters want to replace the entire Congress, while a whopping 70% say they want to get rid of their own member of Congress.
Sounds logical, doesn’t it? There’s just one problem. It isn’t going to happen. Why? A one word answer: money.
To get a clearer picture of how difficult it is to unseat an incumbent member of Congress, let’s take a look at the Louisiana delegation.
It has become fashionable for members to have a “Leadership PAC” in addition to their own campaign fund. There are few rules governing how the PAC money can be spent.
Remember that 60 Minutes recently did an expose on these PACs, which ensnared former Louisiana U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, who had paid more than $100,000 from his Leadership PAC to his daughters for working in his campaign.
So, we are going to look at money totals combined from the member’s personal campaign fund and his Leadership PAC. The figures are through Sept. 29, 2013.
*U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden – His Leadership PAC is called Louisiana Values PAC. He was elected to Congress in 2008, and is seeking his fourth two-year term.
Since the 2012 election, Fleming had raised $631,337 and spent $325,609. He has $765,312 cash on hand for his 2014 race. PAC contributions accounted for 15% of his total. To get elected in 2012, Fleming spent $1.1 million.
An Aside: Keep in mind that the figures may not compute because the members had cash on hand before they began raising money for the 2014 election cycle.
*U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie – His Leadership PAC is Eye of the Tiger PAC. He was elected to Congress in 2008 and is seeking a fourth term.
Since the 2012 election, Scalise had raised $792,517 and spent $575,275. He has $827,732 cash on hand for his 2014 race. Of his total contributions, 62% came from PACs. To get elected in 2012, he spent $1.5 million.
*U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans – His Leadership PAC is the Who Dat PAC. He was elected to Congress in 2010 and is seeking a third term.
Since the 2012 election, Richmond had raised $534,158 and spent $197,158. He has $370,181 cash on hand for his 2014 race. Of his total contributions, 68% came from PACs. To get elected in 2012, Richmond spent $865,392.
Since the 2012 election, Boustany had raised $924,331 and spent $551,132. He has $827,732 cash on hand for his 2014 race. Of his total contributions, 55% came from PACs. To get elected in 2012, Boustany spent $5.3 million. (He was running against another incumbent because of reapportionment.)
U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman, has resigned, and U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, is running for the U.S. Senate.
It is also interesting to note how much money these members have spent before the campaign even starts. As previously noted, they have a great deal of leeway in spending campaign funds.
Also interesting to note is how much of their contributions come from PACs (Political Action Committees and special interest groups). One has to wonder where their allegiance lies based upon the PAC money they receive – with their constituents or with the special interests.
Trick or Treat?
Appropriately, it happened on Halloween. The much anticipated endorsement by the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) in the Louisiana U.S. Senate race turned out to be a treat for Rob Maness, the Republican candidate from Madisonville.
It turned out to be a scary situation and another trick pulled on U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, the Republican from Baton Rouge, who is the GOP’s anointed candidate in the upcoming race against incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Maness, a retired Air Force colonel, has managed to pick up the endorsements of almost every Tea Party organization and Republican conservative group, leaving Cassidy basically empty-handed.
The SCF vets candidates throughout the country – including both incumbents and challengers – and issues endorsements based upon a number of criteria, one of which is “can the candidate win?”
In a fundraising e-mail, SCF warned voters to beware of Cassidy. “Bill Cassidy has rightly been criticized for his Obamacare hypocrisy. Not only did Cassidy propose an Obamacare-lite plan in the state legislature, he’s also tried to take credit for federal grants awarded through the Obamacare program. All of this is making it harder for him to contrast himself with Democrat Mary Landrieu.”
SCF’s Executive Director Matt Hoskins went on to point out that Cassidy has, in the past, contributed to Landrieu’s campaign and that he is not entitled to be the Republican who faces Landrieu.
The big problem for Maness is money. But SCF’s endorsement could help the underdog candidate raise needed campaign funds. As of September 29, he had collected only $102,000 in contributions.
The in-fighting in the GOP is the best thing Landrieu has going for her, some political analysts contend.
So far, that seems to be the case, as some GOP state legislators are talking about entering the race.
McAllister nabs Mayo
Political unknown Vance McAllister is looking more and more like he is going to give state Sen. Neil Riser a run for his money in the runoff for the 5th Congressional District seat. The election is Nov. 16.
He has picked up the plum endorsement of Monroe Mayor Jaimie Mayo, the African-American Democrat who finished third in the primary with 15% of the vote.
When you add Mayo’s vote in the primary to the total McAllister received, which was 18%, the race is pretty much even. Riser garnered 32% in the primary.
You can bet the farm that Riser wanted Mayo’s endorsement. But after he didn’t get it, his campaign was downplaying the importance of a Mayo endorsement.
Riser spokesman Ryan Cross said that the state senator and Mayor Mayo don’t share the same political views. No kidding. But it’s a good bet the Riser camp would have been touting Mayo’s endorsement if it had received it.
Instead, the Riser camp was bragging about getting the endorsement of the National Rifle Association (NRA). No surprise there because the national Republican Party is supporting Riser.
But McAllister may have a more powerful group behind him – the Duck Dynasty stars. Phil Robertson, one of the stars of the popular reality show, is a close friend of McAllister’s.
Riser is a Republican from Columbia. McAllister, also a Republican, is from Monroe, one of the population centers of the 24-parish Congressional District.
Another populous area is Rapides Parish, the home of former U.S. Rep. and current Public Service Commissioner Clyde Holloway. He finished with 11% of the vote in the primary and is expected to also endorse McAllister.
Mayo, who is highly regarded by blacks and white Democrats in northeast Louisiana. said he would be active in helping to get out the black vote for McAllister.
Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.