Both a test and a Harbinger of the way things will go in November, Don Cazayoux, a state legislator, defeated Republican Woody Jenkins, a small-newspaper publisher, in the race for a house seat in a Baton Rouge district that was historically a safe red, conservative slot.
This is bad news for the Republicans and good and bad news for the Democrats.
The New York Times reports,
The two parties saw the Louisiana race as an important test for the fall, given how safe the district has been for Republicans for more than three decades. Democrats viewed a potential victory as a measure of Republican vulnerability; Republicans saw it as an indication of how difficult it might be to defend more than two dozen open seats in play in November.
Mr. Cazayoux, a low-key member of the State House and a former prosecutor, fit the conservative model Democrats deployed successfully in the 2006 elections when they took seats from Republicans. He was close to Mr. Jenkins on social issues like abortion and guns; he spoke approvingly of Senator John McCain; he rarely if ever mentioned the Democratic presidential candidates; and he suggested he would buck his party if the district’s interests seemed to call for it.
Mr. Jenkins and the Republicans, on the other hand, sought to tie Mr. Cazayoux to his party’s national standard-bearers at every opportunity, especially Ms. Pelosi. Television advertisements paired Mr. Cazayoux with Mr. Obama, and called him a “liberal” — a description that fit uneasily with Mr. Cazayoux’s voting record in the State House of Representatives. He raised nearly twice as much money as his Republican rival, his fund-raising bolstered by Congressional Democrats eager to take the seat.
For two decades, Mr. Jenkins has been one of the state’s best-known — and most polarizing — political figures. He led an effort in the Louisiana Legislature 18 years ago to enact the nation’s toughest anti-abortion laws, which tore the state’s politics apart. He was the Legislature’s most outspoken across-the-board opponent of taxes and government spending.
It's clear why this is bad news for the Republicans. The Dems have come up with a way to beat republicans. The bad news is the Dems are doing it by recruiting republican-lite candidates who wil almost certainly become bluedog democrats-- the kinds who buck the party's attempts to stop the war or impeach. These are fearful democrats who are not team players, who oppose women's rights to control their bodies. It's easy to imagine them becoming Zell Miller or Joe Lieberman types.
Still, it's better than having a raw meat eating right wing extremist like Woody Jenkins. And it's great to see that the message and policies Jenkins espoused and the attack ads supported were rejected by the people of the district.
The good news is that it seems that people don't want the failed right wing conservative values that Jenkins and his party espoused. That's good for America, good for the world.
But we have to consider a lot of what's happening now to be a step in the right direction. We're far from there yet. We're going to need to put a lot of pressure on legislators like Cazayoux to move further left. Either that or make a major change in our approach to supporting incumbent Democrats-- sort of like what happened with Donna Edwards-- throwing out the ones who don't act enough like Democrats.