Adrian Perkins 072320

Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins addresses media after qualifying to run for the U.S. Senate on Thursday, July 23, 2020.

Members of Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards campaign team have joined a newly formed Super PAC to support Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins' bid to unseat incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy in the November elections.

The formation of a Super PAC is another indication that a previously quiet reelection campaign for Cassidy, considered a “safe Republican” seat by political handicappers, is fast becoming more competitive. The election is Nov. 3 with early voting from Oct. 20 to Oct. 27. A Dec. 5 runoff is scheduled, if needed.

Around the country, Democrats are mounting well-funded challenges of Republicans once considered shoo-ins. Democrats need to flip five seats – four if Joe Biden wins the presidential race – to win a majority in the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate.

“The efforts by the United States Congress to adequately address the coronavirus pandemic show us that the system is broken. We need stronger leadership from our U.S. Senators, especially during this precarious time,” Better Road Louisiana co-chairs, state Reps. Mandie Landry and Matthew Willard, both New Orleans Democrats, said Wednesday in a prepared statement. “Sen. Cassidy, of all people, should know better as a medical professional. He has voted time and again to rip health care away from people with pre-existing conditions and eliminate programs like Medicaid expansion, which has been a lifeline for working people during this pandemic.”

Super PACs are political action committees that can raise unlimited money from individuals, corporations, labor unions and others. Super PACs can spend those funds to support candidates as long as the groups don’t coordinate or contribute to the candidates.

Of the 14 opponents to Cassidy’s reelection to a second term, Perkins is the only elected official. A West Point grad, who has led units in combat, and a Harvard Law School grad, Perkins has received endorsements from national Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, of New Jersey, and former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

But no African American has won a statewide election in Louisiana since 1887, at the end of Reconstruction. And Perkins is only the seventh Democratic elected official to run for an office elected statewide in the past decade, which saw three gubernatorial, three U.S. Senate, and more than 20 races for state agency heads, like Attorney General. Edwards is the only winner.

Many of the krewe that helped Edwards win in 2015 and again in 2019 is working with Better Road Louisiana.

They include:

  • Scott Arceneaux, a political strategist who worked in Edwards’ 2015 election and led get-out-the vote efforts in the 2019 reelection campaign.
  • Richard Carbo, Edwards 2019 campaign manager who previously was the governor’s deputy chief of staff.
  • Bill Rouselle, of Bright Moments marketing and advertising firm in New Orleans. He was a senior advisor on former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s 2020 campaign for president. He also is an advisor for New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
  • Katie Penland raised $24 million for Edwards’ reelection campaign and an additional $7 million for the state party.
  • Trey Ourso, a partner at Ourso Beychok, a political consulting and direct mail firm based in Baton Rouge, led Gumbo PAC and managed the group’s $13 million budget supporting Edwards’ reelection.
  • Adam Magnus and Elisabeth Pearson, of the media consulting firm Magnus Pearson Media, produced television ads for Gumbo PAC in Edwards’ campaign.

Email Mark Ballard at mballard@theadvocate.com.