Don’t count Rep. Joseph Cao out yet.
The centrist New Orleans Republican is in for the fight of his political life tomorrow, but a previously unreported poll shows him neck and neck with Democrat Cedric Richmond. Even so, a last-minute attack ad by Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council could cost Cao the race.
New Orleans blogger Michael Bayham tells FrumForum that he was made aware of a private NRCC poll that shows Richmond and Cao tied at 46%. Bayham declined to identify his source, except that his information came from a “very credible source, a national figure in the Republican Party.” Through independent investigation, FrumForum has been able to corroborate this with a second source, but who also declined to be named.
“Just looking at what’s going on in the street, I feel like we’re in a dead heat,” said David Huguenel, the campaign manager for Cao’s campaign, who declined to comment on the NRCC poll. “I think that we’re going into the election tomorrow very optimistically. All the information and polling that we’ve seen over the past several months has shown us still in the game.”
But Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council decided to air a last-minute ad in Cao’s district over the weekend – a move that could very well cost Cao the race. The ad, run on a local conservative station that features talkers like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, could be the difference in this close race.
The Times-Picayune reports on the ad:
“Who is Rep. Joseph Cao representing in Washington?” the FRC ad asks. “Cao has repeatedly voted for extra protections for homosexuals at the cost of religious liberty. Cao voted to use the military to advance the radical social agendas of homosexual activists and he voted for a so-called hate crimes bill that places your personal liberties at jeopardy.”
In a race this close, every vote matters, and the effect of Perkins’ ad will be to bleed some support over to the third-party Tea Party candidate in the district. The one or two percent that goes to that candidate could be the difference in this election.
Perkins says that Democrat Cedric Richmond is unacceptable to him as well, telling the Times-Picayune that he “know[s] Cedric. I served in the Legislature with him… He’ll be no better.” But by his tormented logic, his ad could have the very effect of electing Democrat Cedric Richmond.
Cao’s campaign doesn’t see it that way. “At this point, I don’t think it has that much of an impact,” said Huguenel on the charge that Cao is costing citizens their religious liberty. “I think it’s disappointing, I think it shows that [the Family Research Council] doesn’t quite understand that Joseph does have a very religious background, as a former [Jesuit] seminarian. To attack him shows they haven’t taken the time to even talk to the Congressman about the issues they care about.”
Further confounding is the fact that Cao is one of the most pro-life Republicans on Capitol Hill. He was only persuaded to vote against the final version of the healthcare bill because he wasn’t satisfied that it would not fund abortions. On pro-life issues, the National Right to Life has Cao supporting them on all of their five identified pro-life votes in the last Congress.
On the other hand, getting attacked by the Family Research Council could actually help Cao in this district, which is overwhelmingly liberal. “For white liberals, this might swing the other way. There’s a large gay population in the district, and the ad shows that [Cao] is not too right-wing for the district,” said Bayham.
FrumForum will be following Louisiana’s 2nd congressional district race closely tomorrow, with live updates. Stay tuned for live election night coverage.
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