According to a delightful link sent by a reader, David Wasserman, the House editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, interviewed Louisiana State Rep. Lenar Whitney, who is a GOP candidate for US Congress in the state’s Sixth District. He calls her the most “frightening” and “fact-averse” candidate he has ever interviewed. More:
Whitney’s brand of rhetoric obviously resonates with some very conservative Louisiana voters who view President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency as big-city elitists directly attacking the state’s energy industry and their own way of life. And she would hardly be the first “climate denier” elected to Congress. But it’s not unreasonable to expect candidates to explain how they arrived at their positions, and when I pressed Whitney repeatedly for the source of her claim that the earth is getting colder, she froze and was unable to cite a single scientist, journal or news source to back up her beliefs.
To change the subject, I asked whether she believed Obama was born in the United States. When she replied that it was a matter of some controversy, her two campaign consultants quickly whisked her out of the room, accusing me of conducting a “Palin-style interview.”
It was the first time in hundreds of Cook Political Report meetings that a candidate has fled the room.
Wasserman goes on to explain how it is by no means impossible under Louisiana’s open primary system that the runoff will come down to Lenar Whitney vs. former Louisiana governor and convicted felon Edwin W. Edwards.
In which case I expect to see more than a few folks driving around with resurrected “Vote For The Crook. It’s Important” bumper stickers from the Edwards-Duke race in ’91.
UPDATE: Conservative Louisiana political analyst Scott McKay thinks Whitney really did get ambushed, but that she really ought to be ready for this sort of thing if she’s serious about running for Congress. Thanks to Ryan Booth for sending this in. Excerpt:
In other words, you’ve probably got to hang in there and trade punches with this guy; succumbing to the temptation to kill the interview, as understandable as it might be when he’s clearly hostile to her, only assures you’re going to get a terrible writeup out of the encounter.
Whitney is trying to position herself in this race as what she is – a principled hard-core conservative with a record to prove it. She’s telegenic, she’s very likable and she’s a good retail politician. In addition, she’s somebody you can be completely sure will be a rock-solid, reliable conservative vote.
But the question coming out of that interview is whether the video she did on global warming – and the one on immigration where she called for employers of illegal aliens to do jail time – isn’t an example of overdoing it. There are a ton of hard-core conservatives on the Republican side of the 6th District field, and while it’s a challenge to separate yourself and your message from that field there are pitfalls associated with coming out so strongly.
Whitney just hit one. As a result, her biggest challenge for the immediate future is to close a perceived “competency gap” between herself and more seasoned policy people in the race like Edwin Edwards, Dan Claitor and Garret Graves.