Republicans Scott Angelle and Jay Dardenne have not endorsed either of their former rivals in the Louisiana governor’s race since failing to secure a spot in the Nov. 21 runoff. But already their words are being used to attack Republican David Vitter, even as Vitter himself seeks to woo their supporters.
Gumbo PAC, a group that was created to campaign against Vitter this year, has launched a new ad that cuts between biting comments Angelle and Dardenne had made about Vitter in the run-up to Saturday’s primary.
The commercial is one of several attack ads that has been launched this week as candidates and outside groups blitz the airwaves in an attempt to pull sway in the runoff between Vitter and Democrat John Bel Edwards.
Other ads that also debut this week include ones from Edwards’ and Vitter’s campaigns, as well as a new ad from the Republican Governors Association and one from the pro-Vitter Fund for Louisiana’s Future PAC. The Democratic Governors Association has contributed money to Gumbo PAC to help air its latest ad.
The Gumbo PAC ad splices together video of attacks Dardenne and Angelle lobbed at Vitter during a series of debates. Vitter’s supporters targeted both men with negative ads in the run-up to Saturday’s primary.
The ad opens with a comment Angelle made Oct. 21: “We have a stench that is getting ready to come over Louisiana if we elect David Vitter as governor,” he said, referencing a 2007 sex scandal that has come back to haunt Vitter’s run for governor.
Cut to Dardenne on Vitter: “He’s ineffective. He’s vicious. He’s lying.”
The ad’s release came just a day after Vitter’s campaign sent an email saying it was building support among voters who previously backed Angelle and Dardenne.
“In just one day our team has grown significantly with Jay and Scott’s supporters,” read the email. “They realize we need solid, conservative Louisiana leadership to get us out of the ditch we’re in.”
Vitter also referenced building support among Dardenne and Angelle supporters in an interview with The Advocate on Sunday.
Mere days following the election, all signs point to what could be a knock-down, drag-out race, as all five major runoff ads launched so far have been negative.
“More taxes for you mean more perks for him,” the narrator says. “(He) spends your money on himself; no wonder he wants to take more of it.”
The RGA plays up a similar theme, accusing Edwards of wanting to raise taxes and calling him “just another Obama liberal,” while a split screen shows a photo of Edwards on one side and Obama on the other.
Edwards, meanwhile, is featured in his own ad, talking directly to the camera about expecting Vitter to attack him before he lobs his own strikes against Vitter.
“He wouldn’t last one week at West Point,” says Edwards, who graduated from the military academy.
According to an analysis from the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity, Louisiana television viewers were bombarded with political ads leading up to Saturday’s primary. TV campaign advertising in the governor’s race alone has topped $11.7 million since January 2014.
The negative nature of ads comes as candidates spar over campaigning techniques, following the recent arrest of a private investigator hired by Vitter’s campaign.
Investigator Robert J. Frenzel, who was caught filming Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand at a regular coffee gathering last week, told authorities that his Dallas-based firm sent him to gather information on one of the other attendees. When confronted, he fled the coffee shop and was later found hiding behind an air-conditioning unit on private property.
Vitter’s campaign has dismissed the arrest as a “bizarre and silly incident” irrelevant to the campaign.
On Monday, Vitter’s campaign released video of the Republican candidate confronting a tracker from American Bridge, a Democratic political action committee, who was following him.
The Vitter campaign described the tracker as “filming private citizens having private conversations at a restaurant in Lafayette ... that Sen. Vitter was also at.”
The campaign compared the tracker, a common political tactic these days, to his own private investigator.
In addition to the PI’s recent actions, a pro-Vitter tracker working for America Rising PAC has been following Edwards, Angelle and Dardenne for several months and has attempted to enter private events.