Ignoring their widespread agreement with national Dem platform, NY Times asserted '06 freshman Dems "fit the conservative model"

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

The New York Times asserted that Rep.-elect Don Cazayoux (D-LA) "fit the conservative model Democrats deployed successfully in the 2006 elections when they took seats from Republicans." In fact, the Democratic candidates who won Republican-held seats in the November 2006 midterm elections all backed key portions of the Democratic platform, and the vast majority of them also supported embryonic stem cell research and abortion rights.

In a May 4 article by reporter Adam Nossiter, The New York Times asserted that Rep.-elect Don Cazayoux (D-LA), who defeated Republican Woody Jenkins in a May 3 special election for a congressional seat that Republicans have held since 1974, "fit the conservative model Democrats deployed successfully in the 2006 elections when they took seats from Republicans." But as Media Matters for America has documented (here, here, here, and here), the Democratic candidates who won Republican-held seats in the November 7, 2006, midterm elections all backed three central elements of the Democratic platform -- raising the minimum wage, changing course in Iraq, and opposing any effort to privatize Social Security -- while the vast majority of them also supported embryonic stem cell research and abortion rights. Media Matters further documented that these central Democratic platform positions enjoyed strong public support. Additionally, as purported evidence that Cazayoux "fit the conservative model," the Times wrote that he "was close to Mr. Jenkins on social issues like abortion and guns; he spoke approvingly of Senator John McCain; he rarely if ever mentioned the Democratic presidential candidates; and he suggested he would buck his party if the district's interests seemed to call for it." But Nossiter did not mention Cazayoux's reported agreement with Democratic Party leaders -- and the American people -- on major policy issues, namely expanding health care coverage and repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest earners.

On April 27, The Advocate of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, reported that Cazayoux's health care plan was "similar [to] presidential candidate Barack Obama's" and that "Cazayoux said he would like the public to have access to the Congressional health-care plan and to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Plan." On October 18, 2007, 229 out of 233 House Democrats voted to override President Bush's veto on a bill expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). By contrast, 154 out of 200 House Republicans voted against overriding Bush's veto.

A separate April 27 Advocate article (found in the Nexis database) reported that regarding the Bush tax cuts, Cazayoux would "[c]onsider repeal for [the] top 1 percent of earners." Similarly, The Advocate reported on April 2 that Cazayoux said that "tax breaks for alternative-fuel developers could be paid for by rolling back tax breaks for the top 1 percent of the nation's income earners." According to a February 1, 2007, post on the Wall Street Journal blog The Wealth Report, the top 1 percent of earners in 2004 had income of at least $277,983. A February 2 Times article reported, "Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton would extend only the tax cuts for families making less than $250,000 and then use the revenue from the higher taxes on the affluent to help pay for other programs." By contrast, the Bush tax cuts reduced the highest marginal income tax rate to 35 percent and "Senator McCain wants to extend the 35 percent rate indefinitely," as the Times noted.

From the May 4 New York Times article:

A Democrat took an open Congressional seat long held by Republicans in the conservative district around Baton Rouge in a special election Saturday, giving the party an early boost in its quest for an increased majority in the House of Representatives.

Don Cazayoux, a state representative, defeated Woody Jenkins, a small-newspaper publisher and former legislator long associated with religious-right causes in Louisiana, by 49 percent to 46 percent, in a tight race for a seat left open by the retirement of Richard Baker, a Republican.

Mr. Cazayoux portrayed himself as little different from Mr. Jenkins on social issues, overcoming the Republicans' depiction of him as a "liberal" in lock step with figures like the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and Senator Barack Obama, who shared billing with him in a barrage of Republican attack advertisements.

The two parties saw the Louisiana race as an important test for the fall, given how safe the district has been for Republicans for more than three decades. Democrats viewed a potential victory as a measure of Republican vulnerability; Republicans saw it as an indication of how difficult it might be to defend more than two dozen open seats in play in November.

Mr. Cazayoux, a low-key member of the State House and a former prosecutor, fit the conservative model Democrats deployed successfully in the 2006 elections when they took seats from Republicans. He was close to Mr. Jenkins on social issues like abortion and guns; he spoke approvingly of Senator John McCain; he rarely if ever mentioned the Democratic presidential candidates; and he suggested he would buck his party if the district's interests seemed to call for it.

Mr. Jenkins and the Republicans, on the other hand, sought to tie Mr. Cazayoux to his party's national standard-bearers at every opportunity, especially Ms. Pelosi. Television advertisements paired Mr. Cazayoux with Mr. Obama, and called him a "liberal" - a description that fit uneasily with Mr. Cazayoux's voting record in the State House of Representatives. He raised nearly twice as much money as his Republican rival, his fund-raising bolstered by Congressional Democrats eager to take the seat.

For two decades, Mr. Jenkins has been one of the state's best-known - and most polarizing - political figures. He led an effort in the Louisiana Legislature 18 years ago to enact the nation's toughest anti-abortion laws, which tore the state's politics apart. He was the Legislature's most outspoken across-the-board opponent of taxes and government spending.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
The New York Times
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine, 2006 Elections
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