Bill Cassidy’s Estrangement From Realville Grows - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Bill Cassidy’s Estrangement From Realville Grows
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Lousiana Sen. Bill Cassidy speaks on American energy, March 30, 2022 (Senator Bill Cassidy/YouTube)

Regular listeners of Rush Limbaugh’s marvelous three-hour radio tour de force, which I imagine is a group of alumni coinciding greatly with the readers of The American Spectator, will no doubt remember one of Limbaugh’s famous sayings.

I’m the mayor of Realville,” he used to declare.

What Limbaugh meant was that it’s incumbent on intelligent people to recognize reality when it’s obvious, and to calibrate one’s actions to conformity with the state of the universe. Limbaugh took pride in the fact that his thinking was grounded in an appreciation for things as they stand, and he often ridiculed and criticized those who rejected such an appreciation.

Bill Cassidy, one of the dimmer Republican bulbs in the U.S. Senate, does not have such an appreciation.

Cassidy has for more than a year entertained a bizarre notion. He wants to leave the U.S. Senate, which provides to its members perhaps the comfiest sinecure in terrestrial politics, to run for governor of Louisiana. Cassidy reiterated this desire in an interview with Politico on Monday:

There’s no Senate Republican quite like Bill Cassidy: He voted to convict Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection after getting reelected by 40 points, while helping cut big deals on Covid relief and infrastructure.

Now he’s eyeing the governor’s office in Baton Rouge.

The Louisianan confirmed in an interview that he’s considering running for governor in his state, which has elected conservative Democrat John Bel Edwards to two consecutive terms — the first one over former Sen. David Vitter (R-La.). Cassidy said it’s not his idea, but that he’s “been approached to run for governor” by people in the state.

“They’ve seen what I’ve done on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, see what I did on Covid relief in December” 2020, Cassidy said on Tuesday. “They obviously see I’m trying to do good things for the state. And they like it.”

Cassidy said he’ll decide by the end of the year on whether to run. But it’s a natural fit for him, since the governor’s race in 2023 offers a low-risk campaign that wouldn’t cost him or his party his Senate seat. What’s more, his inimitable breed of GOP centrism may help Republicans win in a conservative state that’s blown two straight winnable races against the term-limited Edwards.

I spend more time in Louisiana than Bill Cassidy does, and I can safely warrant that nobody is approaching Bill Cassidy as the savior of the Republican Party in this state.

Cassidy has been making phone calls for more than a year trying to drum up interest in his running for governor, but there has been almost no buzz around Louisiana in favor of him. In fact, the agitation of the political waters by Cassidy’s team have been more a source of amusement than anything else. Syndicated radio host Moon Griffon, whose show is perhaps the most influential in Louisiana politics, has taken to calling Cassidy “Psycho Bill” on the air as a response to his vote on the Trump impeachment and subsequent attempts to create a groundswell for a 2023 gubernatorial campaign.

Why would a senator want to become a governor? It’s almost unheard of. But it seems like every four years in Louisiana the senators are the ones whose names appear most prominently. David Vitter ran an ill-fated gubernatorial campaign in 2015, losing to Edwards while a sitting senator. John Kennedy, who replaced Vitter in the Senate after the latter’s retirement in time for the 2016 elections, was bandied about as the leading candidate for governor in the 2019 cycle. Kennedy ultimately chose not to run, and a lackluster GOP field blew an opportunity to unseat Edwards that year.

Now it’s Cassidy.

It looks a bit grim for Psycho Bill and what allies he believes he has.

This happens because ever since Huey Long cut a swath through Louisiana politics from the late 1920s to his 1935 assassination, the Louisiana governorship has been seen as the most powerful in the country. Louisiana governors are like mini-dictators, controlling vast amounts of political patronage and government swag for the doling, and though legally there are legislative checks on gubernatorial power — on Wednesday, the Louisiana Legislature for the first time in three decades overrode a gubernatorial veto of the state’s congressional map — in practice the state’s polity is utterly subservient to the man occupying the Fourth Floor of the state capitol building.

Giving a bumbling Stupid Party squish like Cassidy that kind of power would be akin to choosing to step on Legos for the next four years, but for a Louisiana electorate who opted to be governed by a leftist hillbilly caudillo like Edwards nothing is inconceivable in the abstract.

But in practice it looks a bit grim for Psycho Bill and what allies he believes he has. And this is before he actually makes the race and Trump makes it his personal mission to ensure Cassidy’s defeat.

Louisiana pollster John Couvillon of JMC Analytics released a survey funded by an anonymous collection of business interests over the weekend. The survey placed both Cassidy and Kennedy in the Louisiana governor’s race with Attorney General Jeff Landry, State Treasurer John Schroder, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, and state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, all Republicans, and Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome and state Sen. Gary Smith, both Democrats. Broome is black; everyone else is white.

Kennedy led the field with 22 percent. He’s far and away the most popular politician in the state. Broome was second with 14 percent, gathering a plurality of the black vote. Landry came in third at 11 percent.

And then came Cassidy in fourth place at 10 percent.

Kennedy is unlikely to run. Most of his vote in the JMC Analytics poll will go to Landry and Schroder, who surprisingly drew only 1 percent. Almost none of it is expected to go to Cassidy.

Cassidy was re-elected statewide with just under 60 percent in November 2020. Now he’s got 10 percent of the vote in a preliminary poll of the governor’s race. That’s what his vote to impeach Trump and the betrayal of his own voters, to whom he advertised himself as the Trumpiest Trump who ever Trumped in the 2020 race, has wrought.

What’s more, the poll found Cassidy underwater by a 38-49 margin in approval rating. With Republicans he’s a pathetic 36-52 down.

And he wants to run for governor next year.

OK, Psycho Bill. Go right ahead and try your luck. This is going to be fun to watch.

Scott McKay
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Scott McKay is publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics. He’s also a writer of fiction — check out his three Tales of Ardenia novels Animus, Perdition and Retribution at Amazon. Scott's other project is The Speakeasy, a free-speech social and news app with benefits - check it out here.
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