Dueling endorsements in the 5th Congressional District

sam_hanna_jrFor a number of reasons, it appeared late last week that Dr. Ralph Abraham was building some serious momentum in the 5th District congressional race.

In listening to the chattering class talk up Abraham’s bid to unseat Republican Congressman Vance McAllister, a narrative began to develop that the 5th District race was headed for a showdown between Abraham, a Republican, and Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, a Democrat, in the December run-off.

Then Abraham, of Mangham, slipped into Central Louisiana and picked up the endorsement of the Republican executive committee in Rapides Parish, though only 11 individuals participated in the decision to throw its support behind the good doctor. Without a doubt, the endorsement for Abraham in Rapides was somewhat of a surprise since two other Republicans in the 5th District race, former Congressman Clyde Holloway and former Grant Parish District Attorney Ed Tarpley, hail from Cenla as well.

All of that changed earlier this week, though, when two politically active powerhouse organizations in Washington announced their support for Zach Dasher’s campaign in the 5th District.
Dasher, of Calhoun in Ouachita Parish, is a Republican, too.

Within a matter of hours, Club for Growth and Citizens United decided Dasher was their man in the 5th District. For the Dasher campaign, it certainly represents good news.

Club for Growth is one of those outfits that advocates for a smaller federal government and less taxes. It bills itself as the leading free-enterprise advocacy group in the country with more than 100,000 members. It carries a big stick.

Like any special interest group anywhere else in America, Club for Growth raises and spends a lot of money through its own political action committee to help elect candidates to public office who agree with its cause. It also spends a lot of money to defeat candidates, regardless of party affiliation, who aren’t on the reservation, so to speak.

Citizens United, you may recall, was the plaintiff in the case that led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which paved the way for free speech in politics. Conservatives loved the ruling. Liberals, including Sen. Mary Landrieu, detested it.

Aligned with the Libertarian-leaning Koch brothers, Citizens United, undoubtedly, is one of the most influential special interest organizations in the country. If you’re a candidate and Citizens United is with you, you’re lucky. If they’re against you, good luck to you because you’ll need it. Those boys play for keeps.

For Dasher, having the support of two outfits as influential as Club for Growth and Citizens United extends much further than a favorable or unfavorable news report about the endorsements. Instead, the endorsements could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars will be spent on advertisements to Dasher’s benefit. Or to the detriment of one of Dasher’s opponents. The latter is the most important. The most feared, too.

Why, you may ask, did Club for Growth and Citizens United tap Dasher as their candidate in a race in which an incumbent Republican is running for re-election while other credible Republicans are in the field as well?
You can rest assured Abraham’s position of not repealing ObamaCare played a huge role in Club for Growth and Citizen United passing on him. As far as McAllister is concerned, we have to assume all of Washington knows exactly what and who he is and that’s that.

And it could be that Club for Growth and Citizens United studied the field and decided Dasher was the most conservative, pro-business candidate in the race.

Sam Hanna, Jr. is publisher of The Ouachita Citizen, and he serves in an editorial/management capacity with The Concordia Sentinel and The Franklin Sun, three newspapers owned and operated by the Hanna family. Hanna can be reached by calling (318) 805-8158 or by emailing him at samhannajr@samhannajr.com.

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