Clean Freezer, Clean Government

lavigne.jpgYesterday's post on the rock-solid re-election prospects of Rep. Bill Jefferson (D-Nigeria Louisiana) fell into the right hands. Republican Joe Lavigne, who's running for Jefferson's seat in LA-02, had seen more than enough media carping about how the GOP couldn't unseat a national laughingstock. We contacted his office, communications director Rodney Abele hit us back, and late Monday afternoon Lavigne himself spoke with Wonkette.

A little more background: Lavigne (no relation to Avril) is an LSU grad and lawyer who lives in New Orleans. The last Republican who ran against Jefferson (Art Schwertz) raised $15,139 for the privilege of getting creamed 79-21. But Lavigne has raised around $250,000, while from April to July Jefferson only raised $20,000. That's barely enough to fill a lasagna pan. (Jefferson still has $320,000 on hand.) But to win, Lavigne needs to overcome an overwhelming local Democratic slant (75% for Kerry, 76% for Gore) and a perception among some black voters (who make up more than half of the district) that, to put it in DC terms, the goddamn bitch set Jefferson up.

Full interview below the fold.

WONKETTE: Are you part of the white conspiracy to bring down Bill Jefferson?

LAVIGNE: No, I'm not. And I don't think there's a conspiracy against him. I think the FBI's doing its job and taking the right amount of time to build its case.

WONKETTE: Well, when did you get into the race?

LAVIGNE I got in formally on March 1. Back in February went to Washington met with Sen. David Vitter, Congressman Bobby Jindal and the NRCC to talk about the race. We all agreed that this was a seat that needed some new representation, needed new leadership. In pretty short order after that meeting we raised $120,000... we've raised about $236,000 so far. And all the money we've been raising comes from the district.

WONKETTE: But no one thinks Jefferson can lose. You saw the Times-Picayune article.

LAVIGNE: I disagree with that. The people who say Jefferson has this locked up are basing a lot of that on the election results from the mayor's race, and this district isn't the same as the city of New Orleans. It contains a large proportion of Jefferson parish. And those voters are going to make up 40% of the vote, whereas in the past they made up 25%. Plus, the leadership that Jefferson has provided since he was elected in 1990 kind of speaks for itself.

WONKETTE: Wait, why will the [ed: mostly white] parish outside New Orleans make up more of the vote?

LAVIGNE: A lot of the precincts in the district that were on the east bank before were devasted by Hurricane Katrina. That was his core constituency, and they're gone now. They've relocated.

WONKETTE: Okay, then. So, how does Jefferson stack up against other corrupt New Orleans politicians?

LAVIGNE: I don't want to speculate on him individually. Whether he's guilty or innocent at this point is irrelevant. It's the perception. These articles reporting the $90,000 in his freezer and the relationship with the Nigerian companies put him in such a weak position to deliver for New Orleans. And I think this district wants to elect someone who doesn't reflect so poorly on the city.

WONKETTE: Don't you worry your lack of a relationship with Nigerian high-tech firms will hurt the district?

LAVIGNE: It'll only help the district that we don't have those connections. I promise, all my time will be spent on businesses in the district and not in other foreign countries.

WONKETTE: So, what's in your freezer?

LAVIGNE: All I got in my freezer is boudin and redfish. Boudin is a Cajun pork and rice sausage, and the stuff I buy is pretty expensive. But it's not worth $90,000.

Laughing All the Way to the Bank Freezer [Wonkette]

House: Well-Funded Longshots Hope Bucks Will Draw Buzz [CQ Politics]

About Joe Lavigne [Joe Lavigne for Congress]

-- David Weigel


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