Saturday, November 7, 2009

Will Some Democrat PLEASE Run Against Charlie Melancon in the Party Primary?

Congressman Charlie Melancon represents Louisiana's Third Congressional District but is seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate so that he can run against David Vitter.

I can't for the life of me figure out why!

On Saturday, Melancon voted in favor of the Stupak amendment which banned any public option money and any insurance program in the insurance exchange created in the healthcare reform bill. The vote on the amendment was seen as a necessity by Speaker Nancy Pelosi in order to get the votes needed to pass the overall reform bill.

But, even with the abortion funding ban language included in the bill, Melancon could not bring himself to vote for the bill. He was one of more than 30 Democrats to vote against the bill. Republican Anh Cao of Louisiana's Second Congressional District provided the sole Republican vote in support of the bill, but Melancon could not bring himself to support either his party or his president and support this legislation.

So, the question is this: Why is Charlie Melancon running as a Democrat for the Senate?

I don't get it.

He is not going to pick up any Republican votes with his healthcare votes today. The Republicans have their rock-rib, anti-abortion, anti-government, anti-Democratic, hypocrite candidate in David Vitter. Why would they take Vitter/Republican Lite when they've got the real thing?

Why, too, would Democrats vote for Melancon when the congressman is more likely to oppose President Obama and Democrats in the House and Senate?

At the Lafayette Parish Democratic Executive Committee's Lifetime Achievement Awards Banquet a couple of weeks ago, Foster Campbell described a Blue Dog Democrat as "a Republican with a significant number of black folks living in his district." Congressman Melancon says he is a Blue Dog Democrat.

We have party primaries in federal elections once again in Louisiana. The place to get these questions answered is for a Democrat to run against the Republicrat Melancon in the party primary next fall.

For any Democrat who is interested, Melancon just handed you your issue.


Scroop said...

Consider switching your vote to Vitter.

Melancon sucks up Democratic money and energy that could go to a better Democrat. A Republican wouldn't vote worse and, best of all, wouldn't be the sinkhole for our party that Charlie is.

Let's do our fellow loyal Democrats a favor by stopping this phony Democrat. When Dems vote Dem, they deserve a real Democrat

Mike Stagg said...


I would not vote for Vitter under any circumstances. Or, to borrow from James Carville, "I wouldn't piss down Vitter's throat if his heart was on fire."

I just want a Democrat in the race for the Senate. If Melancon wins the party primary, fine. I'll support him against Vitter. But, as a Democrat, I feel all the loyalty to Melancon that he does to his party, which is none.

Daniel Z said...

Mike, do we really want to follow in the footsteps of the teabaggers? They are targetting their centrists, calling them RINO, and putting up extreme right candidates in swing districts.

Wouldn't it be better to have an imperfect Democrat elected that would go along with the judicial nominations of Obama and someone who is a member of the majority party instead of putting up a "real Democrat" (whatever that is) that will lose to Vitter in the general election.

Mike Stagg said...


As you know, we once again have party primaries in federal elections in Louisiana. All I am calling for is that this vehicle be used — in the Senate race and in every congressional race.

Melancon is the one saying he wants to be the Democratic nominee. His three votes on healthcare reform — against HR 3200 in the Energy and Commerce Committee; in favor of the Stupak amendment (which supposedly addressed his concern with HR 3200); and his vote against the final House reform bill on Saturday — indicates that he needs to justify to Democrats why we should support him.

Republicans learned long ago that the path to successful campaigns begins by exciting and invigorating your core supporters. Only Democrats believe that you can win by depressing the enthusiasm of core supporters while lunging to grab Republican voters.

It does not work.

Melancon has made no commitment to support any of the administration's initiatives, nor has he provided any guarantee that he will not block judicial nominees. You exhibit precisely the kind of wishful thinking that says 'any D will do' and then can't figure out why we can't score legislative victories when those alleged D's go to DC.

I'm not suggesting anything more than that Melancon needs to be held accountable to Democrats for his votes. The way to do that is provided for through the party primaries.

If he can't face Democrats, how in the world will he face Vitter?

Daniel Z said...

The GOP excited and invigorated their core supporters by nominating Palin for V.P. You see how that backfired.

In NY 23 the conservatives excited and invigorated their core supporters by putting up someone they considered a "true conservative" against a "RINO". You see how that backfired.

Exciting and invigorating your base CAN win you elections... in the right elections. In the wrong elections, campaigning to your base will do nothing but drive the moderates and independents to the other candidate.

Melancon could very well lose to a well funded (or well liked) Democrat who is more to the left in a primary. Do you think that Democrat who would defeat Melancon in the primary would have a better chance at defeating Vitter in the general election?

Mike Stagg said...


McCain's selection of Palin was a desperate move of a failing campaign.

You are confused, though, about NY 23. In that race, Hoffman was the Conservative Party nominee. He was not running as a Republican. Dede Scozzafava was the Republican nominee who was selected by party leaders without a primary challenge.

I am not advocating that someone run as an independent against Melancon and Vitter (though, that will probably happen). I am calling for a Democrat to run against Melancon in the party primary, which will take place in August of next year.

I think it would be good for Melancon and good for the party. The state party is non-existent, so there is no mechanism or vehicle in place for Democrats in this state to define themselves through debate and discussion.

So, a party primary is the perfect vehicle for that.

It will also, I believe, remind Democratic office holders that there are, in fact, there is an activist base in our party that must be addressed, included and heeded if those office holders plan on waging successful campaigns — particularly at the federal level.

The open primary system still in place at the state level has worked to dilute the role of the party in state and local politics. I think this has worked to the detriment of Democrats and our interests.

With party primaries back in place, we need to use these as the basis for party building — campaigns, after all, draw activists into the political arena.

Like I said, I hope a Democrat challenges Melancon in the primary and that all Democrats who enter the primary will pledge in advance to support the winner in the general election against Vitter.

Daniel Z said...

Palin, while perhaps a desperate move, was still them pandering to their base.

I am absolutely not confused about NY-23. Hoffman was supported by many national Republicans and was supported for being more in line with what the national party wanted. I am well aware that he ran as a third party. But the result was the same as if he won a party primary. Because had their been a primary primary, he would have one that and then he still would have lost the general election to the Democrat (in a seat that more recently elected a Whig candidate since the last time a Democrat won).

And that is the point I am making here. You are wanting a Demcoratic challenger to face Melancon in the primary. And you could very well get a more "liberal" Democrat who would be more in line with what Democrats want in their Congressman. However, at the end of the day, you would end up with a candidate who would lose to David Vitter... because it is not about the Democrats who would undoubtedly support any Democrat against Vitter... it is about all the independent voters in the state who could consider voting for Melancon but who likely would go towards Vitter if they found the Democrat "too liberal".

Running opposition to Melancon with the current state of Louisiana politics would be cutting your nose off to spite your face. Because you do either one of two things. You either make Melancon spend money that should be spent during the general election to defeat the other Democrat, or you get a Democrat running against Vitter who cannot win.

But let's just play hypothetical for a second. What Democrat do you think should run against Melancon in a party primary? Someone like a Randy Ewing? Someone like Karen Carter Peterson? Who would be your ideal person?

Mike Stagg said...


Had Hoffman challenged and defeated Scozzafava in NY 23 in a Republican Party primary, that seat would probably still be in GOP hands today. It was the nature of his challenge and the national GOP rejection of local party leader endorsements that prompted all the ill-will and ultimately drove Scozzafava out of the race.

As you know, Louisiana Democrats allow independents to vote in our party primaries, so your concern about some 'too liberal to get elected' Democrat emerging is misplaced. In fact, the winner of a Democratic primary would be a much stronger candidate against Vitter because that candidate will have had to test his/her message with voters and engage in the heat of a campaign.

I actually want a Democrat to challenge Melancon so that a Democrat can defeat Vitter. That Democrat can be Melancon — and, if he won that primary, I'd support him. The DSCC should hold their money until the primary is run. It would guarantee them more bang for their bucks during the 30 to 60 days between the primary and the general election (60 days if there is no run-off; 30 days if there is).

I have no personal preference as to who should run in the primary. I can think of a number of Democrats who could make a good race out of it. You mention Karen Carter Peterson. Foster Campbell is another name that comes to mind. There was talk a while back of Eric LaFleur running.

The point of having primaries is to use them to build the party and to make candidates better.

Melancon is not going to defeat David Vitter by trying to match his conservatism. He is going to need the enthusiastic support of Democratic donors and activists to have any kind of chance. He's turning off the activist base with his votes on healthcare.

Barack Obama got 40 percent of the vote here last year with no serious campaign. Charlie is thumbing his nose at those voters with his votes on healthcare reform, thinking he can take us for granted. I'm thinking he can't get away with that and get elected.

A party primary challenge is the way to make him aware of that and to make him a better candidate. Sorry if that scares you.

Daniel Z said...

It doesn't scare me. I just do not believe that Melancon (or any other Democrat) can win if they are forced to spend money against other Democrats.

If you think so then we can agree to disagree. I just hope that we don't make a mistake, whatever decision is made.

I doubt Hoffman would have won in any situation. The percentage of votes obtained by the non-Democrat candidates were at least 10 points less than Republicans typically got in that District.

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