Morning Digest: This Republican ad-man helped destroy David Vitter’s hopes and dreams

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LA-Gov: While John Bel Edwards has already earned admission to the Campaign Ad Hall of Fame with his unforgettable “prostitutes over patriots” spot that eviscerated David Vitter, a couple of outside groups also played big roles in setting up Edwards for his unlikely victory. One was the mysteriously named Louisiana Water Coalition, about which the public knew almost nothing except that it had been funded by a Baton Rouge law firm clearly eager to stop Vitter. But in a fascinating new piece, the National Journal‘s Karyn Bruggeman pulls back the proverbial curtain and talks to the operatives who created the super PACs ads, which included a pair of Democratic pollsters and, remarkably, a Republican ad man who’d worked for Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rob Stutzman.

Stutzman explains his involvement by saying he (correctly, as it turned out) viewed Vitter as “one of the worst candidates

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This is the Republican ad-man who helped destroy David Vitter

While John Bel Edwards has already earned admission to the Campaign Ad Hall of Fame with his unforgettable “prostitutes over patriots” spot that eviscerated David Vitter, a couple of outside groups also played big roles in setting up Edwards for his unlikely victory. One was the mysteriously named Louisiana Water Coalition, about which the public knew almost nothing except that it had been funded by a Baton Rouge law firm clearly eager to stop Vitter. But in a fascinating new piece, the National Journal‘s Karyn Bruggeman pulls back the proverbial curtain and talks to the operatives who created the super PACs ads, which included a pair of Democratic pollsters and, remarkably, a Republican ad man who’d worked for Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rob Stutzman.

Stutzman explains his involvement by saying he (correctly, as it turned out) viewed Vitter as “one of the worst candidates we had anywhere in the country”

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We know one thing for sure: David Vitter’s anti-refugee fearmongering did not save him

A week before Saturday’s remarkable gubernatorial runoff in Louisiana, the polls continued to show Democrat John Bel Edwards with an unlikely lead over Republican David Vitter. While there were plenty of reasons to be mistrustful of the polling (after all, Democrats found themselves ahead in Kentucky earlier this month, only to lose in the end), Vitter sank deep into the gutter with a grotesque move that reflected what turned out to be extreme desperation: He ran the sickening ad below trying to stoke fears over the horrendous Paris terror attacks and the Syrian refugee crisis.

Narrator: One of the Paris ISIS terrorists entered France posing as a Syrian refugee. Now Obama is sending Syrian refugees to Louisiana. David Vitter warned Obama the dangers of Syrian refugees weeks ago and promised as governor no Syrian refugees will enter Louisiana. John Bel Edwards has pledged to work with Obama to bring Syrian refugees

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Morning Digest: Democrats win and David Vitter loses in Louisiana

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LA-Gov: In a result that would have been unthinkable even two months ago, Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards defeated GOP Sen. David Vitter by an impressive 56-44 margin in Saturday’s gubernatorial runoff. Making Edwards’ victory more impressive, he took only 40 percent in October’s all-party primary while the three main Republicans combined for 57 percent, meaning that a sizable fraction of GOP voters switched sides in the second round of voting.

After his loss, Vitter announced that while he’ll serve out the final year of his Senate term, he will not seek re-election in 2016 (see our LA-Sen item below for more). Meanwhile, Edwards’ win gives Louisiana Democrats their first statewide victory since Mary Landrieu’s re-election to the Senate in 2008, and it also makes Edwards the Deep South’s only Democratic governor.

Overall, the race was dominated by two topics that were nothing but

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BREAKING: Democrats win and David Vitter loses in Louisiana

In a result that would have been unbelievable even two months ago, Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards has defeated GOP Sen. David Vitter in the Louisiana gubernatorial race. With about three-quarters of Election Day votes in and most early votes counted, Edwards leads Vitter 55-45 in a state that Mitt Romney took 58-41. Edwards’ win gives Louisiana Democrats their first statewide victory since 2008, and makes him one of just two Democrats to hold statewide office in the Deep South. Edwards is also the first Democratic governor of Louisiana since Kathleen Blanco retired in 2007.

Vitter started this contest with far more money and name recognition than anyone. But Vitter only narrowly won the Republican nod in last month’s primary after going bitterly negative on his rivals, who in turn revived his seemingly dormant prostitution scandal that first emerged back in 2007. Edwards kept his foot on the gas

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Will Louisiana tell David Vitter to get lost? We’re about to find out

Louisiana goes to the polls on Saturday, and the suspenseful gubernatorial runoff contest takes center stage. Also on the ballot are races for lieutenant governor, attorney general, and a handful of legislative seats. Polls close at 9 PM ET, and we’ll be liveblogging the results at Daily Kos Elections.

A few months ago, it looked like Republican Sen. David Vitter would have an easy path to victory against Democrat John Bel Edwards in the race for governor, but this contest surprised everyone when it turned into a knock-down, drag-out fight. Vitter only narrowly won the Republican nod in last month’s primary after going bitterly negative on his rivals, who in turn revived his seemingly dormant prostitution scandal that first emerged back in 2007. The wounds of the GOP fight have not healed at all: Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne crossed party lines to endorse Edwards, while Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle has

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Morning Digest: Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton pointedly refuses to say no to a Senate bid

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CO-Sen: National Republicans have a very unimpressive lineup of candidates challenging Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, but one potentially strong contender still refuses to rule out a bid. When the Denver Post asked Rep. Scott Tipton about his 2016 plans, he once again declared that, “Our focus is on the Third (Congressional District) and we’re planning on running for re-election.” If Tipton really wanted to take his name out of contention, all he needs to do is say, “We’re running for re-election and not for the Senate.” And if he wants to rule out running for the Senate without sounding like a Borg drone, all he needs to say is “I’m running for re-election and not for the Senate.” (Or maybe he joined the Congressional Royal We Caucus without telling anyone.)

It’s pretty unclear at this point how seriously Tipton is

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Morning Digest: Maine might become the first state to adopt instant runoff voting statewide

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ME Ballot: In a fascinating and potentially far-reaching development, organizers in Maine have succeeded in obtaining enough signatures to place a measure on next year’s ballot that would require the state to adopt instant-runoff voting for all federal and state elections. A number of critical races in Maine in recent years have featured notable independent candidates, and as a result, some victors in big races have won with relatively small pluralities. The best example came in the 2010 governor’s race, when Republican Paul LePage prevailed with less than 38 percent of the vote, thanks to a split on the left.

But under IRV, such splits would become irrelevant. Voters simply rank the candidates in order of their preference, and if no one clears 50 percent in the first round, the second-choice votes of those whose top pick was the last-place candidate are re-allocated accordingly. If

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Morning Digest: The Louisiana governor’s race is the worst thing in American politics

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LA-Gov: With just days to go before Saturday’s runoff, Louisiana’s gubernatorial race has become as dispiritingly awful as it’s possible for politics in America to get. Republican Sen. David Vitter decided to find the foulest gutter he could dive into and guzzle like a thirsty camel, with a revolting new ad that uses actual footage of the Paris terrorist attacks to attack both refugees and his opponent, Democrat John Bel Edwards:

One of Paris ISIS terrorists entered France posing as a Syrian refugee. Now Obama is sending Syrian refugees to Louisiana. David Vitter warned Obama the dangers of Syrian refugees weeks ago and promised as governor no Syrian refugees will enter Louisiana. John Bel Edwards has pledged to work with Obama to bring Syrian refugees to Louisiana.

The ad then tendentiously features a clip of Edwards saying, “I supported the president”—a clip recycled from an

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Morning Digest: Early voting numbers out of Louisiana offer cautious good news to Democrats

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LA-Gov: The early voting period for Louisiana’s runoff election ended on Saturday, and 257,021 people have voted early, a 9.5 percent increase compared to October’s jungle primary. Notably, the state’s official early voting statistics, released Sunday, showed that early voting rose disproportionately in parishes in which Democrat John Bel Edwards is expected to do well.

Turnout also went up among registered Democrats and among African-Americans. The share of the early voting electorate who are registered Democrats is 52.6 percent. That’s significantly higher from early voting in both the primary (50.6 percent) and in the 2014 Senate runoff (49 percent). Meanwhile, the share of the black vote stands at 29.7 percent, up from 27.7 percent in the primary and 28 percent in the 2014 runoff. (However, the share of the black vote in the early voting electorate for the November

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Morning Digest: After a disastrous Senate campaign, Liz Cheney mulls a run for an open House seat

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WY-AL: Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis unexpectedly announced her retirement on Thursday (her husband’s death last year may have played a role in her decision), and it didn’t take long for state Rep. Tim Stubson to announce his campaign. Stubson is the third-ranking Republican in the state House, so he may have some useful connections.

Stubson is very unlikely to be the only credible Republican campaigning for this safely red seat though. Former Bush administration official and frequent cable news presence Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Wyoming congressman and ex-Vice President Dick Cheney, quickly said she was “seriously considering running and will make a final decision in the next couple of weeks.” Unnamed sources close to Cheney tell CNN that she’s leaning towards getting in, but hasn’t decided.

If Cheney runs, this will be her second campaign in the Cowboy State in as

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Morning Digest: What’s going to happen in the Louisiana governor’s race? ¯(ツ)/¯

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LA-Gov: Two new polls of Louisiana’s bizarre gubernatorial runoff popped up on Thursday finding Democrat John Bel Edwards with a substantial lead on Republican David Vitter, while one survey (for the conservative blog The Hayride) showed Edwards with the smallest edge he’s had since the primary. What exactly is going on here? First, to the Pollmobile!

Florida-based pollster Market Research Insight has Edwards ahead 52-38, similar to his 54-38 margin two weeks ago. Not to be outdone, the University of New Orleans, in its first-ever survey of the race, shows Edwards with a Popeye-sized 56-34 advantage. But The Hayride’s numbers, from Republican pollster MarblePort Research, put Edwards on top by just a 48-42 spread. For what it’s worth, MRI was the only outfit that realized Vitter would only narrowly make it into the second round; MarblePort had him winning a spot handily.

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Morning Digest: Edwards unloads on Vitter in debate: ‘You are a liar, and I don’t tolerate that’

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LA-Gov: Democrat John Bel Edwards and Republican David Vitter met for the first gubernatorial debate of their runoff campaign on Tuesday night, and let’s just say a few punches were thrown. Vitter’s history with prostitutes, an issue that has been dominating the campaign in recent weeks, did not bubble up to the surface until the last minutes of the debate. Then, Edwards attacked Vitter for what he called “extracurricular activities,” as well as over the allegations that he hired a private detective to investigate political opponents.

The candidates’ acrimonious exchanges culminated with Edwards admonishing Vitter, “You are a liar, … you are a cheater, you are a stealer, and I don’t tolerate that.” Vitter at one point referenced a recent Edwards ad accusing the senator of choosing “prostitutes over patriots,” saying that Edwards was adopting a “holier than thou” act while

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John Bel Edwards to David Vitter: ‘You are a liar, and you are a cheater, and I don’t tolerate that’

Democrat John Bel Edwards and Republican David Vitter met for the first Louisiana gubernatorial debate of their runoff campaign on Tuesday night, and there was no love lost between the two candidates.

Vitter’s history with prostitutes, an issue that has been dominating the campaign in recent weeks, did not bubble up to the surface until the last minutes of the debate. Then, Edwards attacked Vitter for what he called “extracurricular activities,” as well as allegations that he hired a private detective to investigate political opponents. The candidates’ acrimonious exchanges culminated with Edwards admonishing Vitter, “You are a liar, and you are a cheater, and I don’t tolerate that.” (Video here.)

In the first 50 minutes of the debate, the candidates had actually found common ground in bashing the state’s unpopular Republican governor, Bobby Jindal. Moments after the debate’s start, Vitter was contrasting himself with Jindal, whom he called “aloof.

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Morning Digest: No one has any idea what Mia Love is doing, including Mia Love

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UT-04: Freshman Republican Rep. Mia Love quite clearly does not know how to run a professional congressional operation. For the second time this year, Love has been forced to reimburse the treasury for travel expenses improperly billed to taxpayers, and has compounded her errors by utterly failing to offer any sort of consistent explanations for her actions. In the most recent incident, as the National Journal‘s Jack Fitzpatrick explains, Love received reimbursements for two plane tickets she booked on back-to-back days in February, even though she only used flew once.

Her office at first said that she’d given back the money for the unused ticket, even though federal disbursement reports indicate she’s done no such thing. Then her staff claimed that such remittances wouldn’t appear in those disbursement reports, which a House administrator quickly refuted. As for why Love bought two tickets in

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Morning Digest: David Vitter responds by talking about David Vitter

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LA-Gov: So here’s David Vitter’s response to John Bel Edwards’ scalding new ad about Vitter’s prostitution scandal:

Fifteen years ago, I failed my family, but found forgiveness and love. I learned that our falls aren’t what define us, but rather, how we get up, accept responsibility, and earn redemption. Now Louisiana has fallen on hard times. A budget crisis, low wages, failing schools. You know me. I’m a fighter. And as your governor, I’ll get up every day to fight for you. For a much better, stronger Louisiana.

First off, you know that this isn’t an ad Vitter wanted to cut—contra Edwards, whose team insists they’ve been raring to release their “prostitutes over patriots” spot since September. Secondly, while it’s just this side of endearing when Alfred Pennyworth tells Bruce Wayne, “Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn

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Morning Digest: Edwards eviscerates Vitter in new ad, says he ‘chose prostitutes over patriots’

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LA-Gov: It’s a rare campaign ad that just stops us in our tracks and sends our jaws to the floor, but … yeah. Just watch:

Narrator: The choice for governor couldn’t be more clear. John Bel Edwards, who answered our country’s call and served as a ranger in the 82nd Airborne Division. Or David Vitter, who answered a prostitute’s call minutes after he skipped a vote honoring 28 soldiers who gave their lives in defense of our freedom. David Vitter chose prostitutes over patriots. Now, the choice is yours.

How do you respond to that if you’re Vitter? What do you even say? That Edwards is a desperate Obama clone who will destroy Louisiana with his libruhl policies? Republicans were going to say that anyway. In fact, they already have.

The broader question is whether Edwards’ decision to go nuclear over

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Whoa: John Bel Edwards just excoriates Vitter in new ad, saying he ‘chose prostitutes over patriots’

Screenshot from John Bel Edwards (D) ad attacking David Vitter (R) in 2015 LA-Gov race

It’s rare that a campaign ad just stops me in my tracks and sends my jaw to the floor, but … yeah. Just watch:

Narrator: The choice for governor couldn’t be more clear. John Bel Edwards, who answered our country’s call and served as a ranger in the 82nd Airborne Division. Or David Vitter, who answered a prostitute’s call minutes after he skipped a vote honoring 28 soldiers who gave their lives in defense of our freedom. David Vitter chose prostitutes over patriots. Now, the choice is yours.

How do you respond to that if you’re Vitter? What do you even say? That Edwards is a desperate Obama clone who will destroy Louisiana? Republicans were going to say that anyway. In fact, they already have.
The broader question is whether Edwards’ decision to go nuclear over Vitter’s prostitution scandal—in a way Vitter’s electoral foes never have before—signals anything about the

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Morning Digest: Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne endorses Democrat for governor over David Vitter

Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R) (at right) endorses state Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) for governor (Nov. 5, 2015)

Jay Dardenne (at right) endorsing John Bel Edwards

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LA-Gov: The amazing Louisiana governor’s race just keeps getting amazing-er. On Thursday morning, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, a Republican who finished fourth in the primary with 15 percent, endorsed Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards in the Nov. 21 runoff. In announcing his support for Edwards, Dardenne was particularly scathing toward his fellow Republicans:

“The Republican brand has been damaged by the failed leadership of Bobby Jindal during this last term. David Vitter’s governorship will further damage that brand as I and others have pointed out during the campaign. I cannot and will not sit idly by and refuse to speak truth to power.”

Obviously this is a guy who doesn’t care about his electoral future, because he just signed his political death warrant by unleashing cannon fire on his own party. But Dardenne is

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Louisiana’s Republican lieutenant governor endorses Democrat for governor over David Vitter

Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R) (at right) endorses state Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) for governor (Nov. 5, 2015)

Jay Dardenne (at right) endorsing John Bel Edwards

The amazing Louisiana governor’s race just keeps getting amazing-er. On Thursday morning, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, a Republican who finished fourth in the primary with 15 percent, endorsed Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards in the Nov. 21 runoff. In announcing his support for Edwards, Dardenne was particularly scathing toward his fellow Republicans:

“The Republican brand has been damaged by the failed leadership of Bobby Jindal during this last term. David Vitter’s governorship will further damage that brand as I and others have pointed out during the campaign. I cannot and will not sit idly by and refuse to speak truth to power.”

Obviously this is a guy who doesn’t care about his electoral future, because he just signed his political death warrant by unleashing cannon fire on his own party. But Dardenne is not alone in his hostility toward

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