What It Means to Miss New Orleans (Updated)

Well, here’s one more result that isn’t surprising, but certainly disappointing, considering the implications:

John N. Kennedy of Louisiana has prevailed in the final U.S. Senate contest of 2016, beating out Democrat Foster Campbell for the seat being vacated by David Vitter (R).

Shortly after the polls closed, the Associated Press projected Kennedy the winner.

Kennedy, the state’s Republican treasurer, had endorsements from President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Trump won Louisiana by a wide margin during the general election last month and stumped for Kennedy on Friday during a visit to Baton Rouge.

Campbell, a public service commissioner, had faced an uphill climb in his campaign to defy polls that heavily favored Kennedy and Louisiana’s deeply red history. With the Democrat’s defeat, Republicans will hold a 52-to 48-edge in the Senate when Trump assumes the presidency next month…

The Senate race in Louisiana was the last in the country because of a unique primary system that allows all of the candidates, regardless of their party affiliation, to compete against one another on the November election date. The two front-runners then proceed to a runoff election in the following weeks. Last month, Kennedy and Campbell bested a 24-candidate field that included David Duke (R), a onetime Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, to advance to the final election Saturday.

As MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow noted earlier this month, Democrats appear to have conceded this election in advance, not even bothering to send any party main-eventers down to Louisiana to campaign for Campbell. Although the Pelican State elected a Democrat, John Bel Edwards, as governor last year, perhaps party leaders thought that victory was a fluke.

It’s a guarantee that the newly-elected Kennedy will join his GOP colleagues in savaging what keeps us safe:

Twenty years ago, Newt Gingrich and allies pushing the self-styled Contract with America created an obscure but potent legislative weapon to help Republicans combat what they deemed to be out-of-control regulatory overreach in Washington.

But like some kind of mystical, regulation-slaying sword, this tool comes to life only when the political stars align in just the right way, with single-party control on Capitol Hill and the White House, at just the right time.

Donald Trump, when he rolls down Pennsylvania Avenue at his inauguration, will usher in that time.

Republicans are readying an onslaught under what’s known as the Congressional Review Act to cast aside a raft of Obama administration edicts, including rules designed to make it harder for US corporations to avoid taxes; environmental rules aimed at curbing earth-warming emissions; and sweeping changes to overtime regulations that were set to guarantee extra pay for an estimated 4 million Americans…

“We plan to robustly use the Congressional Review Act to reverse the midnight regulations of Barack Obama,” said Wyoming Republican John Barrasso, who is a leader of the Senate effort. “His legacy lost. The American people said ‘No, we don’t want that. We want to change direction.’ ”

While Barrasso and other Republicans say the tool allows them to rescind “last minute” regulations pushed by the Obama administration, the Byzantine way that time is defined in the act means they will most likely be able to take aim at regulations put in place as far back as late May.

Considering what’s at stake, it’s odd that the Democratic Party effectively gave up the ghost on this seat. Does anyone seriously think that the Trump-endorsed Kennedy will support any investigation of Russia’s efforts to help Trump score an Electoral College victory over Hillary Clinton? Does anyone seriously think Kennedy will vote against the confirmation of the crooks Trump has chosen for his Cabinet?

The lesson here is that Democrats should fight for every seat in every location as though it’s a matter of life and death. (In many respects, it is.) Campbell was a long shot, sure, but his loss was not necessarily foreordained. Why did Democrats assume it was? Why didn’t anyone challenge that assumption?

UPDATE: Speaking of Republican Senators and Russian interference in our Presidential election, there’s a morbid irony in Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Jack Reed and Chuck Schumer declaring that the investigation into the interference “cannot become a partisan issue.” It is already a partisan issue, in the sense that far-right Trump supporters have long viewed McCain and Graham as de facto Democrats.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.