There’s been precious little action so far in Louisiana’s big, open Senate race, so the first real campaign stumble serves as a reminder that voters will in fact choose a replacement for David Vitter this fall.
U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany’s private staff conversation, accidentally broadcast via Facebook Live, is also a reminder that, in this era of ever-present smart phones, anything someone says could become fodder.
That said, Boustany’s self-inflicted wound could have been a lot worse.
Assessing rival candidate John Kennedy, Louisiana’s longtime treasurer, a Boustany aide actually complimented his discipline.
“You can’t knock Kennedy off message. He’s dogged. We’re not going to win even with gaffes,” the aide said. The Boustany campaign is even less likely to knock Kennedy off message now that he knows an aide had tried to get him to say something “dumb” during a private conversation. Another staffer said in the recording that, had that happened, he would have emailed every reporter in town.
The Boustany camp may have hurt the feelings of another rival, U.S. Rep. John Fleming, when staffers suggested he’s more gaffe-prone than Kennedy. That’s probably true, but it’s hardly below the belt.
While Kennedy seconded the Boustany aide’s comments, Fleming summoned as much outrage as he could over the recording. After Boustany suggested that the father of an easily identifiable Fleming staffer actually supported him, Fleming released a statement by the dad saying he stands by his son’s boss. Is there any parent out there who wouldn’t say the same under the circumstances?
So call the whole episode an amusing diversion, and a bit of a window into how campaign strategists think. But between the high budget drama in Baton Rouge and the over-the-top presidential contest, it’s going to take something a lot more dramatic to get people to start focusing on this race.
‘Grace notes’ is a daily feature by Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace. To read more of her content, including her full columns, click here.