BP Disaster Spills Into Cajun Politics As Carville Pitches Melancon For Senate

Two Democrats appear to have emerged as heroes from the ongoing Gulf Coast oil spill — and now one of them is boosting the Senate candidacy of the other.

Longtime Democratic strategist and native Louisianan James Carville used an email Sunday to drum up support for Rep. Charlie Melancon’s bid to oust Republican Sen. David Vitter in November’s congressional election.

In their own ways, Carville and Melancon both have become faces of anger and anguish as upwards of 100,000 barrels of crude leak daily into the waters off the coast of their home state due to an explosion last month on an offshore drilling platform leased by BP.

A three-term congressman who’s represented Louisiana’s 3rd District in the southeastern part of the state, Melancon visibly choked up last week during a hearing, as he described the horror that the oil spill is causing all across the Gulf Coast.

James Carville, meanwhile, has long been a familiar political face as a confidant and campaign strategist for Bill and Hillary Clinton. Known as the “Ragin’ Cajun,” Carville has been creating fresh headlines by criticizing President Obama’s handling of the oil spill.

In a TV interview last week, Carville told Obama, “Man, you got to get down here and take control of this, put somebody in charge of this thing and get this moving. We’re about to die down here.”

Although the White House and other Democrats were not pleased that Carville would aim his ire at a Democratic president, all appears forgiven as the Democrats’ official Senate campaign operation was willing to email Carville’s appeal on behalf of Melancon’s Senate bid to its roster of supporters.

“You might have seen Charlie getting a little choked up on TV this week,” Carville says in his email. “You see, nobody cares more about Louisiana than Charlie. He empathizes with the small business owners who are hurt by the spill because he is one. He fears for the marshes, because he knows those marshes. Charlie is working night and day to make sure BP is held accountable, the disaster is cleaned up, and Louisianans get back on their feet. We need more of that same dedication and hard work in the Senate.”

Melancon is taking on Vitter, the Senate freshman seeking a second term. Recent polls find Vitter ahead, despite having been fingered as a customer of a prominent Washington prostitute.

“Bold, honest leaders like Charlie don’t come along every day,” Carville says. “He’s just the type of stand-up guy we need standing up for us in the Senate. He’s facing a tough race, and he sure could use a show of support while he’s working so hard to help Louisianans who are hurting.

“Would you show your support for the people of the Gulf Coast by standing with them and my friend, Charlie? He is making a difference every day,” Carville adds. “Let’s show that we appreciate all his hard work.”

The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.

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