The Problem with LA-05

I haven’t talked much about this race, except in a post on RedState, because I have yet to really understand what the race for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional seat resulted in. On the one hand, you have what is being called the “Neil Deal” by people with far too much time on their hands. That is the alleged deal that brought Rodney Alexander into legislative retirement, gave him a cushy state government job and promoted Neil Riser to the short list of Establishment picks. While the chain of events didn’t pass much of a smell test, and I certainly raise an eyebrow to anyone Eric Cantor would endorse, I’m not quite ready to put on my tinfoil hat and declare conspiracy.

The other candidate in the run-off was Vance McAllister, who ran as an anti-establishment Republican who somehow felt compelled to endorse Medicaid expansion in the state, which is decidedly not Republican at all. I have an acquaintance in Alexandria who supports McAllister, but even he agrees there should probably be a sit-down meeting at some point to really just kind of figure out why.

I mean, I get it, Mr. McAllister. You ran in a poor, rural district. An abysmally-drawn one at that. Still, it’s hard to believe that any Republican candidate who runs on Medicaid expansion could really be “anti-establishment” if the conservatives’ main problem with the Establishment is how liberal it has become. When you get down to it, there weren’t really any good choices in that particular race. But, the problem with the district is that it consistently voted on a party-hopping liberal Republican like Alexander multiple times in the first place.

Alexander, on most conservative scorecards, was ranked dead last among state Congressional Republicans and only barely above the state’s lone Congressional Democrat. He was a Democrat-turned-Republican. It was a district that hasn’t voted very conservatively, so it’s hard to decide what this race really means.

For my buddy in Alexandria, it means a solid, anti-establishment signal being sent to Baton Rouge and Washington D.C., but to folks like Mary Landrieu’s communications director, Andrew Zucker, it means Landrieu can run on Medicaid expansion as a means for pushing for the Affordable Care Act. All sides see this as a win. Except for Neil Riser’s camp, of course.

As for me, I see it as a sign that conservative grassroots haven’t clearly defined what “anti-establishment” truly means. If a guy can go on public record advocating an expansion of Medicaid in any form, does that make him a stalwart conservative? If the Establishment pick ends up being the most conservative guy on the ticket, do conservatives still vote against him because he is Establishment? Ultimately, it seems detrimental to the effort to make a more conservative Congress and Senate if you are so opposed to the Establishment guys that you’ll pick someone with liberal tendencies just to spite them.

But, then again, what the hell do I know?

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