By Nathan L. Gonzales
Louisiana Rep. Don Cazayoux (D) can’t rest easy after his special election victory in the 6th district just a few months ago. His victory expanded the Democratic Party’s House majority, but one of his new colleagues, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), contributed to an Independent candidate who is complicating Cazayoux’s re-election effort in November.
Cazayoux won the May 3 special election narrowly, 49 percent to 46 percent, but this November, he faces a Republican candidate with broader appeal, state Sen. Bill Cassidy, as well as his friend and former colleague in the state legislature, state Rep. Michael Jackson (D), who is black.
Jackson and Cazayoux faced off on April 5 in the special election primary, with Cazayoux prevailing 57 percent to 43 percent. Jackson felt snubbed by the Democratic Party establishment, who backed Cazayoux, and subsequently filed as in Independent in the general election.
Cazayoux doesn’t have a lot of room for error in a district that President Bush carried with 59 percent in 2004. And he can’t afford to lose too many Democratic votes to Jackson in a district where one-third of the voting-age population is African-American.
After Jackson announced his Independent candidacy, Butterfield donated $500 to his campaign on July 26, after meeting the Louisiana legislator at a Congressional Black Caucus event. The contribution appeared on pre-primary Federal Election Commission reports filed nearly a month ago but went unnoticed until Swing State Project, a Democratic blog, pointed it out Wednesday morning.
“It was a mistake,” said Butterfield’s communications director, Ken Willis. “[Jackson] was just introduced at the CBC event as a Congressional candidate.” Apparently, Butterfield did not realize that his contribution was for the general election and that Jackson was running as an Independent against a Democratic incumbent.
“If [Butterfield] had known it would be for the general election, he wouldn’t have done it,” Willis added. “He didn’t want to do anything to hurt the party.”
Even though Butterfield is displaying a certain political naivete, at a minimum, his contribution was to a primary challenger for Cazayoux.
Butterfield’s contribution to Jackson has him on an island. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) contributed $2,000 to Cazayoux on Aug. 15, for a total of $6,000 for the cycle. Reps. David Price (D-N.C), Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.), Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), and John Dingell (D-Mich.) contributed to Cazayoux in the last reporting period, which ended Aug. 17.
Jackson is not expected to raise a lot of money, but he demonstrated an electoral base in the special election primary. He only had $13,000 in the bank on Aug. 17. In comparison, Cazayoux showed $212,000 on hand to Republican Cassidy’s $306,000.
A Sept. 17-21 Anzalone-Liszt Research poll for Cazayoux’s campaign showed the new Congressman leading with 48 percent, compared with 32 percent for Cassidy and Jackson at 9 percent. But Cassidy is just starting his television ads, and the Congressman is in for a tough fight.
This story first appeared on RollCall.com on September 24, 2008. 2008 © Roll Call Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
By Nathan L. Gonzales