Republicans surge in Louisiana

The Briefing, Vol. VII, Issue 39

This week:

  • Joe Biden keeps sinking
  • Democrats becoming more radical
  • Democrats risk extinction in Louisiana

President 2020

Saving Hunter Biden: Why is everyone suddenly so sensitive about Hunter Biden’s feelings?

People seem to understand that there’s something dirty and unseemly when Rudy Giuliani goes sniffing around Ukraine. So why are they so loath to admit what has to seem obvious to most people at this point — that former Vice President Joe Biden’s son has been shamelessly cashing in on his father’s government service in a highly corrupt fashion?

For the average 40-something with young Biden’s thin professional qualifications, a $50,000-per-month sinecure for a Ukrainian energy company just isn’t an option. Such opportunities don’t come to people whose family connections don’t get the hopes up of the paymasters. It’s arguably an indirect form of robbery from taxpayers to use their prestige in order to make money through political connections.  

The exact same thing can be said of Hunter Biden’s China gig, which he gave up last week. Of course, that’s the least he can do, given his father’s run for president. But his willingness to give it up only reinforces, again, how dirty his ubiquitous involvement in international business appears. It isn’t like he’s doing a good turn, and the odds seem very strong, sight unseen, that he’s into something most normal non-political-scion types could never get into. 

So why are Chuck Todd and so many others going to the mat to protect this kind of political corruption? Todd was so upset by President Trump’s remarks about Biden’s sweetheart gigs that he refused to show them to viewers — he wouldn’t even do it to try to make Trump look bad. It’s as if Todd thinks he’s a judge, protecting a jury from prejudicial information, when in fact the information is clearly relevant. 

Did President Trump go overboard? Yes. Did he go beyond what we expect presidents to say while discussing political rivals? Probably. 

Was he saying exactly what all of Joe Biden’s Democratic opponents would love to say but are too afraid of committing a political murder-suicide that ends their presidential bid? 


Warren takes the lead: Joe Biden may still be the Democratic frontrunner in name, based on national polling, but the reality is that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren continues to surge and overtake him in key early states. 

CBS News polling of 18 early primary and caucus states showed her with a six-point advantage over Biden this weekend, with Bernie Sanders a distant third. In Iowa, Sanders and Warren are tied at 22 percent, with Bernie Sanders statistically even with them at 21 percent. In New Hampshire, Warren leads Biden 32 to 24 percent, with Sanders at 17 percent.

Now consider this: After Bernie Sanders’ recent heart attack, his days in the presidential race are surely numbered. His fans will be looking for a left-wing alternative. Who could serve that role better than Warren?

Only in South Carolina, where Biden expects to cash in with the black vote, does he enjoy a clear lead with 43 percent support. Still, Warren and Sanders combine in the Palmetto State for 34 percent, leaving the left-wing candidates not too far behind.

Moreover, the CBS delegate tracker — which should be taken with a huge grain of salt — puts Warren on 720 delegates in those 18 early states, against 577 for Biden. But again, just imagine what happens once Sanders is gone, whether that comes sooner or later. It’s very hard to imagine Biden solidifying his position in the current context. There are no candidates whose support he can count on inheriting. That always made him weak for a frontrunner.

Democrats get left-ier: Call it a sign of the times. The Democrats’ forum on gay and transgender issues contained a number of bombshells. Beto O’Rourke promised to discriminate against churches that don’t recognize gay marriage. (That includes pretty much all mosques, amusingly — Muslim ban indeed.) Elizabeth Warren, in fielding a question from a nine-year old girl who believes she is a boy, arguably participated in a case of politically expedient parental child abuse. It is becoming increasingly difficult to view most of the Democratic field as a serious alternative — even to Trump. Trump may prove unelectable, but this forum really highlighted the radicalism of most Democrats. It is almost certain to backfire. 

Governor 2019

Louisiana: Saturday was primary election day under Louisiana’s jungle election system. The campaign of Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards was confident of a first-round majority and victory when the day began. By the end, Democrats’ hopes were dashed, and Edwards’ future seemed in doubt. 

Edwards finished with less than 47 percent of the vote, with three Republican candidates combining for about 52 percent. Businessman Eddie Rispone just barely edged out Rep. Ralph Abraham for the right to take on Edwards in next months’ runoff. Despite the moderate Edwards’ solid placement coming into the primary race, his failure to reach or even approach a majority is a terrible sign for his future. Rispone, who performed best in the state’s low altitudes, has to be considered the favorite going into next month’s race. 

Even worse for Democrats and liberals, Saturday night was brilliant for conservatives for still other reasons. For one thing, Republicans clinched a veto-proof supermajority in the State Senate, and brought themselves within striking distance of winning a state House supermajority in the coming runoffs. Meanwhile, conservative Republicans ran the table in intraparty contests, the Hayride reports

This may just seem like a red tide in a red state, but that shortchanges Louisiana’s political history. In 2004, the state had a Democratic governor and lieutenant governor, two Democratic U.S. Senators, and both houses of the state legislature heavily Democratic. Four of the other five statewide constitutional offices were also Democratic. The state was nearly as Democratic as it had been before the civil rights era — an important fact that contradicts Democrats’ own account for their history in the South.

Democrats only began to lose their grip on the Pelican State in November 2004, with the election of the later-disgraced Sen. David Vitter, R, to replace retiring Democratic Sen. John Breaux. The state’s final transformation to the GOP only finished in 2014 with the defeat of Sen. Mary Landrieu, D. Although some might be tempted to try to attribute this to Hurricane Katrina, it just isn’t so — Republicans changed their fortunes in Louisiana not through lower turnout in New Orleans, but by turning the entire upstate from Blue to Red, as the dramatic sea change behind Bobby Jindal’s 2007 election made clear.

Edwards rose to power on the failures of Vitter and Jindal. But he is still literally the only relevant Democrat elected in the entire state. If he loses next month, it will only signify the tail end of Louisiana’s Blue-to-Red transformation, unthinkable even 15 years ago.