Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) was always expected to win the Republican Senate nomination last year. But even political veterans in the pelican state turned their heads when, at the last minute, Vitter got a primary challenger from a well-connected Republican, former Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Chet Traylor.
But Traylor’s campaign never materialized. Worse, he’s being trounced in polls leading into Saturday’s primary. And according to at least one Louisiana insider, it’s because his own allies abandoned him.
Traylor managed to go live with a brutal radio ad, but nothing on television. He commissioned polls showing that he could be a viable candidate — but only if voters became much more aware of Vitter’s scandal-plagued history. That might’ve happened if Traylor’s political and business allies had invested in raising awareness…but they never did.
Here’s a blow-by-blow of why.
The short version is that many of the people who promised to help Traylor along never delivered. The longer version is much more interesting — people are naming names.
About a week or two ago, Chet Traylor realized he had been lied to,” writes Sam Hanna, Jr.
[T]here were signs that Traylor’s bid to unseat Vitter could get off the ground. After all, Traylor qualified in light of pledges of support from Republican businessmen who feared the scandal-plagued Vitter would or will encounter more charges of personal wrongdoing. Supposedly, revelations of more wrongdoing on behalf of Vitter could hand his Senate seat to Melancon. Supposedly.
Movers and shakers in the political arena including many Republican state lawmakers and John Mamoulides, the respected former district attorney in Jefferson Parish, were among those who leaned on Traylor big-time to take on Vitter. Mamoulides also was one of the ones who made big promises about raising big money to fuel Traylor’s campaign. Mamoulides never delivered.
John Georges, the wealthy New Orleans businessman who ran for governor in 2007, was in the mix, too. He told the Traylor camp that he could be counted on to deliver money that Traylor would need to finance an uphill campaign against a well-funded incumbent. Georges never delivered either.
There were others who told Traylor they were with him, including Jay Blossman, a former member of the Public Service Commission, and a host of business leaders from Acadiana. None of them delivered as well, except for Wayne Elmore, a respected Republican businessman from Lafayette.
In time, Traylor discovered he had been lied to, or jerked around. All of those fair weather supporters had lied to him except for Elmore and Traylor’s closest supporter, Lev Dawson of Delhi. Those two men never flinched in exhibiting their support for a friend.
Hanna notes that Traylor only ended up raising $100,000, which was not nearly enough to finance a successful challenge to the incumbent Vitter.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.