For the past several days, Senator/ Gubernatorial candidate David Vitter has been in a public feud with Jefferson Parish President Newell Normand. The controversy concerns a political operative named Robert Frenzel, who was caught videotaping a private conversation between Normand, state Sen. Danny Martiny, and Democratic donor John Cummings.
Normand had him arrested and according to the Times Picayune, The Jefferson Parish Sheriffs office has executed warrants to view the video Robert Frenzel recorded and to search his phones and cars. Normand is a long time political enemy of Senator Vitter, and he has gone on record blaming Vitter for the incident. He also claims that laws were broken and Frenzel committed a felony.
Maybe he did.
Maybe he didn’t.
But in accordance with our Judicial system, Frenzel is currently innocent because he has not plead guilty to any crime nor has he been convicted by a jury of his peers. This is not going to change between now and the next election for governor. If in fact a crime was committed, it has yet to be proven in a court of law.
Until that happens, voters will be influenced based only on their perceptions. And as they say, perception is reality in politics.
It’s entirely possible that some voters will see Frenzel as a political prisoner, a man persecuted by jack booted thugs whose motives are obviously political. (Note: don’t twist my words. I said this is a possible perception, not the reality). To these voters, Normand is a man using and abusing the powers of his office to deal harshly with those who oppose him politically. And if Vitter is seen as an enemy of a Sheriff who uses the power of state to crush political enemies, some people will likely rally around Vitter.
Once again, I am dealing with other peoples’ possible perceptions here- not making statements that I am claiming to be facts.
Vitter has a history of picking the right fights with the right people, which in the end always bolsters his political capitol and ultimately leads him to victory. This conflict with Newell Normad could well be another example of that.
For David Vitter has earned himself a reputation for being a fierce opponent of Obama and his agenda (both of which Vitter depicts as liberal). Newell Normand, by contrast, has a history of aligning himself with politicians who lean left. In the governor’s race, he endorsed Jay Dardenne. Out of the three Republicans in the race, Dardenne was arguably the most liberal.
The website Cajun Conservatism has detailed Jay Dardenne’s voting record, which contains a litany of offenses against the conservative agenda: gay rights, higher taxes, abortion- it’s all there. And out of Scott Angelle, Jay Dardenne, and David Vitter, this is the man Normand chose to endorse.
But Normand’s craziest endorsement of all was in 2008, when he endorsed U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu. Mary Landrieu won her third term partly thanks to Normand, and during this third term she was one of the critical votes in the passage of Obamacare.
Clearly Normand and Vitter are political enemies. If anti- authoritarian conservatives take a close look at Normand’s actions, along with his endorsements, they may well decide that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
And this could tip the scales for Vitter.
UPDATE: At this time, Frenzel has only been charged with one count of criminal mischief– a misdemeanor. There have been threats aplenty about felony charges and even federal charges, but so far, none are forthcoming.