Chris Frates, Politico:
Well that was fast. Former Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.) is leaving his spot as the International Franchise Association’s top lobbyist, a position he took in February, “to pursue business opportunities related to his broad experience in Washington and Louisiana,” IFA spokeswoman Alisa Harrison told PI in an email. Judith Thorman of the American Beverage Association replaces Melancon as senior vice president, government relations and public policy.
Melancon joined IFA after an unsuccessful run for Senate and oversaw the trade association’s political, lobbying, grassroots and PAC strategy. “This is something that was his choice, a mutual decision, and something he wanted to do,” Harrison told PI in an interview. “He had a desire to get back (to Louisiana) and try to pursue some business opportunities that he has there.”
Don't know any more than that. Meanwhile, why not enjoy a replay of one of the many testy moments between Melancon and Sen. David Vitter at last October's face-to-face televised debate? (The "David, you've never had family values" line kicks in at 2:00.)
When I spoke with him in May (here, too), the future of his Mad Men character Salvatore Romano — who was fired in the show's third season — was unknown, as show creator Matt Weiner is notoriously secretive with upcoming plot developments. The fourth season of Mad Men ended a month ago with no reprisal of Sal, but perhaps there's hope for the fifth season. Maybe Batt has some developments he's able to share tonight. Either way, the always amusing Batt will likely have a lot to say.
Batt speaks tonight at 6 p.m. in Tulane's Kendall Cram Room, located in the Lavin-Bernick Center (the place with the Taco Bell). Visit http://college.tulane.edu/jazzrat.htm for more details.
A telephone poll of 700 likely voters conducted last Thursday through Sunday by WWL-TV found that David Vitter is leading Charlie Melancon by more than 10 points in the Senate election to be decided Nov. 2:
Vitter received 50 percent of the vote, to Melancon’s 38 percent. None of the other 10 candidates in the race scored more than one point. Eight percent of those questioned said they were still undecided. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percent.
Pollster Dr. Ron Faucheux said the poll shows two contrary forces competing against each other.
“On one hand you have 50 percent of the state's voters who are resistant on one level or another to reelecting David Vitter,” Faucheux said. “On the other hand, you have almost 60 percent of the state's voters who are resistant at one level or another to electing a Democrat to the Senate.”
Gambit political editor Clancy DuBos also discussed how Vitter's opponent in the race isn't Melancon; it's President Barack Obama, who remains unpopular statewide:
I launched a new TV ad highlighting Charlie Melancon’s record of voting to make it easier for illegal immigrants to get taxpayer-funded benefits and welfare. Melancon even voted against allowing police to arrest illegal immigrants.
Thanks to Washington liberals like Charlie Melancon, we might as well put out a welcome sign at our borders.
I believe in a legal immigration process for those who want to pursue the American dream. But Charlie Melancon's votes making it easy for illegals to get taxpayer-funded benefits, highlighted in the ad, are offensive to me and many, many Louisianians.
I also strongly support Arizona’s new law that gets tough on illegal immigration. As the chairman and founder of the U.S. Senate Border Security and Enforcement First Caucus, I’ll continue to fight hard against any use of your tax dollars for welfare for illegals.
Here's the ad:
Aside from the ad's obvious race-baiting ("Dirty brown people are stealing from you, America!"), it's also, well, totally misleading, or backwards. Melancon voted against allowing illegal immigrants from owning or renting properties built from affordable housing funds, and the "welfare check" bit refers to this, which is designed so illegal immigrants don't receive the Earned Income Tax Credit — which was introduced by Republicans. As for the police, it's a non-issue. "Illegal immigration enforcer" isn't in their job description anyway.
And then there's this, from Team Melancon: "Illegal immigration is a threat to our communities and a burden on our local governments. We must do something to solve this problem," he said in a statement announcing his support of the Save America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act.
Melancon also voted in favor of a border fence and to make being in the U.S. illegally a felony. On immigration, Vitter and Melancon are, or should be, BFFs. So who, or what, is Vitter really after on this? Poking at his emotional homebase fearing job loss? Yes.
Sen. Mary Landrieu joined U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon and other Gulf Coast leaders at the downtown Marriott hotel this afternoon to launch the "Ready 4 Takeoff Coalition," a broad-based lobbying and public relations effort to attract federal compensation and defense spending to the region in the wake of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
Ready 4 Takeoff get it?
On Aug. 6, Sen. David Vitter, who is facing a tough reelection fight this fall, sent out an email with the subject line MUD ALERT! outlining what he said were connections between his Democratic opponent, Rep. Charlie Melancon, and his eleventh-hour Republican opponent, north Louisiana's Chet Traylor, whom he described as "nothing more than a tool and stalking horse for Charlie Melancon." But it was a line later in the sixth paragraph of the email that seemed to indicate Vitter thought something was about to drop soon: "Vicious attacks are about to start," he wrote, "and Charlie Melancon is clearly behind the push." Elsewhere in the email, Vitter wrote, "And this Melancon led Republican Primary operation will start vicious attacks against me as early as Tuesday."
Well, it's Tuesday and today Melancon released the first TV commercial of the campaign (which will not be running in the New Orleans and Baton Rouge TV markets):
"I'm Charlie Melancon, and I approved this message because David Vitter hasn't been honest with Louisiana," it begins. Not nice, perhaps -- but "vicious attack"?
Vitter concluded his email with "More details to follow soon." We'll see and we'll see which camp they come from
[This is an updated version of my Gambit column that will appear in the July 13 issue. It is updated because former Supreme Court Justice Chet Traylor qualified against David Vitter after the dead-tree edition of Gambit went to print.]
Mike Spears created waves in Louisiana Republican circles yesterday when he announced he would be running for the Senate seat now held by David Vitter -- as an independent and "constitutional conservative." Spears' announcement was carried in many Louisiana newspapers (including The Times-Picayune), and he was interviewed on Fox News Radio affiliate KVOL-AM.
Spears, a former Louisiana National Guardsman, is now a Lafayette-based entrepreneur who runs his own Web development company, Firefly Digital. He told Gambit this morning, "When we try to reach out to Washington, nobody seems to respond. They continue to do things contrary to the will of the American people. I am running as an independent, not as a representative of the Tea Party. What I am saying is that my ideals and beliefs are consistent with the Tea Party, and its an affiliation Im proud to say Im a part of."
Spears also took a swipe at Vitter in print when he condemned last week's decision by a U.S. federal judge finding the National Day of Prayer to be unconstitutional, writing on the Louisiana political website The Hayride:
Last week a Federal judge ruled the National Day of Prayer, unconstitutional. This is an attack on the Constitution. Where is Senator Vitter, or any of the other Republicans in Congress on this issue? Our Congressmen must defend the Constitution at all costs. It is the foundation, the wellspring of our liberties and freedom. Today, its the National Day of Prayer. Tomorrow it may be the right to private property or the right to bear arms.
In the "About Mike" section of his website, Spears also spelled out his biography while making some not-so-oblique references to Vitter's "very serious sin":
Mike Spears is a devoted husband, entrepreneur, successful small business owner and dedicated community leader. Alarmed at the corruption and irresponsible behavior of sitting Congressmen, Mike has decided to take a stand and is running for U.S. Senate ....
Like many Americans Mike has proven himself a successful innovator and small business owner. His credibility is strengthened by an impressive portfolio of relevant community service work. Mikes arrival in Washington is sure to shake-up the political status quo.
Omitted from the entrepreneurial resume on his election site was one of Spears' side businesses, one more colorful than that of Web provider: Spears owns a company called Molle Tache, where he calls himself "The Dog Designer."
A June 2008 profile of Spears in the Lafayette weekly The Independent mentions that Spears does all the design and manufacturing for Molle Teche himself, including the "Stage Coach" dog bed ($28,500) and the "Queen's Obsession" ($18,500), "a four poster bed with a Swarovski crystal chandelier."
The Dog Designer's couture pieces includes canine clothing lines with names like "The Little Socialite Collection" (a sleeveless dog gown with "ruffled accents on the collar and skirt and pearl buttons along the back line"), the "EuroStyle," "Dress Blues," and "Lace Formal" ("It's exquisite and charming, playful and elegant. It's exactly what a sophisticated dog requires for any affair, particularly one in your honor! The Lace Formal features a well-fitted jacked, layered laced over satin with prim lace trimmings, adorned with Victorian buttons along the back. Underneath is a delicate ruffled blouse, with a lace collar").
Spears (who, along with wife Ilse, has five dogs, all rescue animals) laughed when asked about his alternate identity as the Dog Designer. "I was one of those guys who watched This Old House and The New Yankee Workshop," he said. "Once I had my own workshop, then I got these 2 little Yorkies, and taught myself how to do upholstery and build furniture." Spears said his life as the Dog Designer was a side business and hobby that's been shelved, partially due to the recession: "They take so much time to do that I have to price them outrageously. Ive sold quite a few smaller pieces, but the larger pieces -- I havent sold any," and added he's also put aside hopes of hosting a reality show: "All that sort of stuff sort of died when the recession hit. I recognized I didnt have the time or resources into that venture."
Spears says he's now concentrating on national politics, and strategizing about how to compete with the war chests already built up by the leading contenders in the race, Vitter and Rep. Charlie Melancon. He says his campaign will likely be funded by small individual donations: "I dont want to ally my campaign with special interests. We have adopted a Pledge of Fidelity regardless of the source of our contributions."
Above all, Spears added, is his concern for the U.S. Constitution and America's future: "I just recently got married and were planning on having kids, and I look at their future -- the way things are changing now -- and it worries me." But he's hopeful about his campaign.
"We thought wed have a slow start, but our original launch and our press conference generated a lot of stir," Spears said, adding he hadn't heard much from Melancon supporters yet. "But I have seen a lot of commentary from the strong Vitter supporters, and the feeling is: 'Finally. Wow. We have a choice."
It was almost a year ago when Baton Rouge-born porn star Stormy Daniels announced she was "exploring" the notion of running for Congress against Sen. David Vitter this November. Since then, Congressman Charlie Melancon has entered the race, but Daniels has teased and teased, making public appearances (clothed and unclothed), but offering nothing ... firm as to her decision.
Last week, Daniels -- whose grasp of the publicity pole is unmatched -- issued a statement saying she was switching her political allegiance from Independent to Republican, and offering a unique reason for doing so:
After months of careful deliberation and consult as to the true nature of my political affiliation I am ready today to declare that should I seek the office of US Senator from the great state of Louisiana that I will do so as a Republican.
While this decision has not been an easy one, recent events regarding Republican National Committee fundraising at Voyeur, an LA based lesbian bondage themed nightclub, finally tipped the scales.
As I have said for well over a year, it is time that our government and our tax policy begin rewarding entrepreneurship and creativity again. It is time again to inspire positive risks and out-of-the-box thinking in the interest of growing a strong economy and a strong America.
For me, this spirit can be summed up in the RNCs investment of donor funds at Voyeur.
As someone who has worked extensively in both the club and film side of the Adult Entertainment Industry, I know from experience that a mere $1900 outlay at a club with the reputation of Voyeur is a clear indication of a frugal investment with a keen eye toward maximum return.
Naturally, all this tongue-in-cheek drollery isn't sitting well with the National Republican Senatorial Committee:
Its been clear for months, and evidence bears it out, that this is nothing but a shameless PR stunt engineered by Democrat Party operatives with connections to the Melancon campaign," said NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh. He added, "Charlie Melancon and his campaign operatives owe voters in Louisiana an apology, as do media outlets like The Associated Press who have given ink to this nonsense at a time when there are so many important issues facing the state of Louisiana and our country.
Meanwhile, Daniels spokesman Brian Welsh (not to be confused with the NRSC's Brian Walsh), has announced Daniels finally would be making her intentions clear on April 15 as a way of highlighting the need for tax relief.
Or is there another motive? Daniels' campaign site (www.draftstormy.com) hasn't been updated since May 2009. However, Daniels now has an announcement up at another address: "Great News my sites is [sic] being totally revamped."
Like a typical campaign site, Daniels' new site will be taking donations; unlike a typical campaign site, it includes a photo of the candidate topless and wearing a leather skirt, and promises to offer even more titillating images and nocturnal admissions ... all for a monthly fee.
The date of the relaunch? "April 2010." Given the date of her senatorial announcement -- April 15 -- surely the timing behind this new Web site is just a coincidence.
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Same Ole, Same Ole, Why don't any of these places use tzatzike sauce?