The Washington, D.C.-based group Americans United for Change (AUC), a liberal advocacy organization, had Metairie motorists squawking Aug. 2 when it erected a 20-foot inflatable ostrich outside the regional headquarters of Sen. David Vitter. The stated reason was Vitter's "refusal to hold BP accountable for the worst oil spill in U.S. history," but the motivation was more clearly political, as Vitter is seeking re-election to his Senate seat this fall. Later in the week, the ostrich traveled to Vitter's offices in Baton Rouge, Lafayette and New Orleans. (Vitter spokesman Joel DiGrado did not return a request for comment.)
Local political watchers may not have been surprised to see the name of Alex Morgan behind the stunt. Morgan managed James Perry's failed campaigns for mayor and state senator, and he achieved a level of local fame for Perry's commercials, which featured New Orleanians swearing in frustration with their choices for mayor (with the actual words bleeped out). Morgan is now the AUC's Louisiana state director, so expect more colorful campaigning before the year is out.
Nevertheless, the tradition of using fowl symbolism at campaign events and headquarters isn't a new one. In the 1992 presidential election, supporters of Bill Clinton sent campaign operatives dressed in chicken suits to campaign rallies for President George H.W. Bush to underscore their contention the then-president was afraid to debate. Earlier this year, Nevada Democrats wore chicken suits to campaign appearances by Sue Lowden, the GOP challenger to Sen. Harry Reid who ultimately lost the primary to Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle. In response to the Lowden situation, the state of Nevada in May declared it illegal to wear a chicken suit within 100 feet of a polling place. — Kevin Allman