Louisiana: Butterfield Mistakenly Gives to Cazayoux Foe

Posted September 24, 2008 at 6:38pm

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) contributed to an Independent candidate in July who is complicating Rep. Don Cazayoux’s (D) re-election effort in November.

Cazayoux won the May 3 special election narrowly, 49 percent to 46 percent, but this November, he faces a Republican candidate with broader appeal, state Sen. Bill Cassidy, as well as his friend and former colleague in the state Legislature, state Rep. Michael Jackson (D), who is black.

Jackson and Cazayoux faced off on April 5 in the special election primary, with Cazayoux prevailing 57 percent to 43 percent. Jackson felt snubbed by the Democratic Party establishment, who backed Cazayoux, and subsequently filed as an Independent in the general election.

Cazayoux doesn’t have a lot of room for error in the 6th district, which President Bush carried with 59 percent in 2004. And he can’t afford to lose too many Democratic votes to Jackson in a district where one-third of the voting-age population is African-American.

After Jackson announced his Independent candidacy, Butterfield donated $500 to his campaign on July 26 after meeting the Louisiana legislator at a Congressional Black Caucus event. The contribution appeared on pre-primary Federal Election Commission reports filed nearly a month ago, but went unnoticed until Swing State Project, a Democratic blog, pointed it out on Wednesday morning.

“It was a mistake,” Butterfield Communications Director Ken Willis said. Jackson “was just introduced at the CBC event as a Congressional candidate.” Apparently, Butterfield did not realize that his contribution was for the general election and that Jackson was running as an Independent against a Democratic incumbent.

“If [Butterfield] had known it would be for the general election, he wouldn’t have done it,” Willis added. “He didn’t want to do anything to hurt the party.”

Butterfield’s contribution to Jackson has him on an island with his colleagues. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) contributed $2,000 to Cazayoux on Aug. 15, for a total of $6,000 for the cycle. Democratic Reps. David Price (N.C), Charlie Melancon (La.), Shelley Berkley (Nev.) and John Dingell (Mich.) contributed to Cazayoux in the last reporting period, which ended Aug. 17.

Jackson is not expected to raise a lot of money, but he demonstrated an electoral base in the special election primary. He had only $13,000 in the bank on Aug. 17. In comparison, Cazayoux showed $212,000 on hand to the Republican Cassidy’s $306,000.

A Sept. 17-21 Anzalone Liszt Research poll for Cazayoux’s campaign showed the new Congressman leading with 48 percent, compared with 32 percent for Cassidy and Jackson at 9 percent. But Cassidy is just starting his television ads and the Congressman is in for a tough fight.