Matt Lewis

Though Bobby Jindal's election as Louisiana governor garnered a lot of  national publicity, another important election in Louisiana has gone largely unnoticed. 

On May 3 -- just a few days from now -- a small number of people will head to the polls in Louisiana and cast their vote in an election that will have national implications, as it may serve as a harbinger of things to come. National Democrats are working hard to take a house seat long held by Republicans

Many conservative groups are engaging in this battle, but the conservative media, blogosphere and other key elements of the conservative movement have largely ignored the race (conversely, liberal blogs have been more engaged in the race).

And while the race has flown below the radar for many in the conservative writers and bloggers, Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have set their sites on this Congressional Race in Louisiana's Sixth Congressional District.

Former State Representative Louisiana conservative icon Republican Woody Jenkins will face off against Democratic State Representative Don Cazayoux this Saturday, May 3, in a special election to replace former Rep. Richard Baker.

Baker, who left in February to become President of Managed Funds Association, served the capital city sixth district for 27 years.

Although Jenkins represented Baton Rouge in the state legislature for 28 years and won the Republican primary with 62 percent of the vote, Democrats have effectively cast his election as anything but a foregone conclusion.

Washington Democrats attempted to paint a gloomy picture of the race in order to convince the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and others to stay out of the race and surrender the seat to the Democrats.  The DCCC has already spent nearly a million dollars on the race. Most of the money is being used to smear Jenkins.

Fortunately, the NRCC refused to surrender the seat and poured hundreds of thousands of their limited dollars in the race.  The DCCC was also surprised when the cavalry began to arrive making it much more difficult to buy the seat. The NRCC has been joined in the fight by Freedoms Watch, Club for Growth and a local business leader, Lane Grigsby.  Like many southern Democrats, Cazayoux has attempted to package himself as a conservative. However, his record in the state legislature has been used by the NRCC and friends to debunk his claim.

It is difficult to overstate the stakes of this election. If Jenkins wins, Republicans will not only keep the seat and begin to turn the tide, conservatives will have a national leader from the day Jenkins is sworn in to Congress.  Jenkins has a long record of conservative leadership and is truly the total package.

Of course, the opposite is true if Jenkins loses.  How important is this election?  As the liberal DailyKos put it:

If Cazayoux does manage to take the seat, he's in excellent position to hold it for the future. No incumbent Louisiana Representative from either party has been defeated by a member of the opposing party since 1890; every Louisiana seat which has changed hands in that time has been due either to retirement, or a successful primary challenge. That's bound to change sooner or later, especially as Louisiana is no longer a one-party state (as it was for most of the 20th century), but it's quite noteworthy nonetheless.

Jenkins was elected to the Louisiana state legislature in 1972 as one of the youngest legislators in state history. In 1996, Jenkins ran a very close race for U.S. Senate.  In fact, many believe the election was stolen from him in New Orleans by Mary Landrieu.  By the end of his 28 year legislative career, Woody proved to be an effective lawmaker as he authored more than 300 major bills that became law.  As a legislator, Woody was a light in a dark time of Louisiana politics. He led the fight for fiscal responsibility, small government, protection of individual rights and traditional values.

Jenkins authored and passed tax cuts totaling over $3 billion, established a right to property in Louisiana for the first time limiting the power of the state government to take property, de-regulated private education in Louisiana, resulting in the creation of more than 100 new private and Christian schools in Louisiana, gave law-abiding citizens the ability to carry a concealed weapon and enacted legislation which provided the most far-reaching protection of the right to life of any state. The list of Jenkins' legislative accomplishments is seemingly endless.

If elected, Jenkins will be an effective advocate and leader for all the issues dear to conservatives.

However, if his Democratic opponent wins, labor unions and trial-lawyers will count Don Cazayoux as one of their best friends in Congress. Cazayoux's campaign has been funded entirely by trial lawyers, labor unions and national Democrats. In fact, last week, Pelosi and the House Democratic leadership reportedly held a DC fundraiser for Cazayoux last week and raised more than $100,000 for his campaign. Despite presenting himself as a conservative Democrat, Cazayoux will be beholden to these left wing groups and leaders.

In the spring of 2004, the national conservative movement coalesced around Pat Toomey's candidacy for U.S.  With the election just days away, Jenkins could surely use that same level of excitement and support from conservative opinion leaders.

Matt Lewis

Matt Lewis is conservative writer and blogger based in Alexandria, VA.

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