Monday, November 06, 2006
Voters hearing pitches face to face
Even a few ballots could swing election
By Bill Walsh
To be sure, candidates saved the bulk of their money for television and radio blitzes in the final days before the election. But more so than any congressional race in recent memory, the battle for Rep. William Jefferson's congressional seat has been waged door-to-door and from one handshake to the next.
No one has typified the challenge more than Jefferson, who is facing the race of his political life as he campaigns for a ninth term with a federal bribery investigation hanging over his head. At sunrise Saturday, he was at a New Orleans union hall stumping for votes. But Jefferson also has gotten mileage out of the late-night campaign scene.
Although not a drinker, he has been hitting local bars and neighborhood nightspots for a simple reason: Potential voters are there. At one club Friday night, he said the patrons serenaded him. "Don't Mess With Bill," they sang.
"Obviously, it's not the same old thing," Jefferson said of the campaign.
In the 1st Congressional District, Jindal recruited a volunteer army of 100 who planned to knock on 100,000 doors before Election Day. Although expected to cruise to re-election, Jindal over the weekend made a final sweep through the entire district, which includes the east bank of Jefferson Parish and three parishes north of Lake Pontchartrain.
"We're not taking anything for granted," said campaign spokesman Trey Williams.
Neither are the candidates in the 2nd District. Over the weekend, all of the candidates shifted their get-out-the-vote machinery into high gear.
Karen Carter's campaign spokeswoman, Cheron Brylski, said that by now, most of the heavy lifting, in terms of fundraising and getting out the candidates' messages, is complete.
"Now it's in the hands of God and voters," she said.