The Louisiana Democratic Party’s shabby treatment of Democratic treasurer candidate Derrick Edwards illustrates the hypocritical attitudes of the liberals who populate it. Edwards, a quadriplegic, has inspirationally carved out a career as a lawyer and, as the only Democrat running, captured 31 percent of the vote for treasurer earlier this month. That pits him against runner-up Republican former state Rep. John Schroder in a runoff election.
All without the help of the state Democratic Party, whose top officers twice turned down endorsing him. Loath to admit they didn’t want to waste resources on someone a number of party activists doubted could make a runoff and none believed could win, they justified the refusal by saying Edwards lacked an adequate campaign organization. As proof, they pointed to his initial campaign finance report, filed late, inviting a $2,100 fine.
At its latest meeting, the Louisiana Board of Ethics didn’t penalize Edwards after his explaining his tardiness because of trouble finding voice activation software needed to submit forms electronically, as is legally required. His report, reflecting around $3,000 raised and spent, might have taken an average typist 30 minutes to complete. But apparently, he had no access to such a person and had to do it himself, demonstrating the shoestring campaign he runs.
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Often, people with severe disabilities who achieve things highly value their independence and only hesitantly ask for assistance. Moreover, these individuals face time-consuming and tiring daily life tasks that for others cause little inconvenience. And, if even available, voice activation software can make for lengthy, clumsy input that demands much time and effort.
Yet the party failed to offer help to a statewide candidate likely to take a significant chunk of votes. He qualified on July 12 with the document due five days later, something the party’s leadership knew. Even for minor local offices, the party dishes out in-kind aid to inexperienced candidates so they may comply with election laws. Upon his qualifying as the only Democrat, was it so onerous for a party leader to inquire if he needed any assistance, and then send someone to enter the data so he could avoid the penalty?
Instead, the party ignored Edwards, then used his difficulty to deny him potential future aid, to its apparent regret. The ensuing unfavorable publicity and embarrassment from turning away a candidate that led the treasurer’s field with nearly a third of the vote must have become too much, for its executive committee recently finally recommended that its central committee formally endorse him, which it did Saturday.
Explaining why the party closed the barn door after the horse escaped, state Rep. Randal Gaines, who sits on its executive committee, said “the party wants to make sure a candidate can run a viable campaign.” By the way, Gaines has two unpaid fines totaling $1,320.
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So, add doing as they say and not as they do to the party’s caring more about how the Edwards candidacy made it look than about the actual candidate himself. This reflects the party’s liberal agenda that puts image over results, with its strategy to gain power through expanding government that gives the appearance of solving social problems but never actually does so. Witness, for example, a half-century of throwing away tens of trillions of dollars that haven’t moved the needle on poverty reduction; yet, rather than chuck unsuccessful redistributionist schemes that don’t improve matters, liberals want to pursue more of the same.
Thus it is with Louisiana Democrats. They pay lip service to aiding those in need but wouldn’t give Edwards the time of day until failure to do so became a political liability. Shame on them.
Jeff Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University-Shreveport, where he teaches Louisiana government. He is author of a blog about Louisiana politics, www.between-lines.com, where links to information in this column may be found. When the Louisiana Legislature is in session, he writes about legislation in it at www.laleglog.com. Follow him on Twitter, @jsadowadvocate or email firstname.lastname@example.org. His views do not necessarily express those of his employer.