Guest Blog: Buddy Roemer’s message unlikely to fly with GOP

Buddy Roemer Buddy Roemer at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. Credit: Gage Skidmore, licensed through Creative Commons.

By Brooks Powell

Charles “Buddy” Roemer, former governor and congressman from Louisiana, wants to be the next Republican president of the United States. But the former Democrat’s messages may not resonate well with a generally business-friendly GOP base — though it’s unlikely voters will even hear him.

The Harvard-educated banker says the tax code is unreadable by most Americans and is being manipulated by special interests, including big businesses, to facilitate windfall profits they then use to influence elections and policy decisions once candidates take office. “Corporations have never made more money than they are right now,” Roemer told Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart. “They wrote the tax code and they really don’t give a damn about the rest of America.”

According to his campaign website, Roemer says his top priority is fighting the influence of special interests, including big businesses, wealthy individuals and political operatives called “bundlers” who deliver huge sums to candidates’ campaigns, often in exchange for influence. To that end, Roemer is refusing donations from political action committees (PACs) that are traditionally fundraising powerhouses and limiting donations, whether corporate or individual, to $100 apiece. He also pledges to balance the federal budget, reduce the deficit and reduce the size of government and its spending if elected, concepts with which he says he gained experience while Louisiana’s chief executive.

Roemer, a Democratic representative of Louisiana in Congress from 1981 to 1988, won a successful bid for the Louisiana governorship as a Democrat the year he left Congres. He then switched his party affiliation to Republican in 1991 in anticipation of a run for re-election. He failed to win a second term as governor in 1992, and then led another unsuccessful bid in 1995. Since then, he’s been out of politics altogether and has instead run Business First Bank, a financial institution with $650 million in assets. His campaign notes in his bio the bank received no federal bailout.)

Roemer’s lack of visibility may account for his lack of name recognition among voters and his low polling numbers. Roemer, who announced his candidacy on July 21 in his new home of New Hampshire, the first primary state, has not received even one percent of likely Republican voters’ support in any national poll. He is not included in most mainstream polling data, meaning he lags well behind Utah Republican Jon Huntsman who has consistently polled the lowest among the nine major GOP candidates.

His low poll numbers have left Roemer locked out of all political debates to date, which has frustrated the candidate and his staff, who have used some colorful language to convey their displeasure. Sponsors of each debate establish the rules for candidates’ participation, not the national party organization. According to the criteria CNN has posted for the debate it will air in conjunction with the Tea Party Express on Sept. 12., candidates needed just 2 percent of likely voter support in either July or August to be eligible. Roemer didn’t meet the threshold. Still, he insists he should be given an opportunity to go toe to toe with his Republican rivals, and has even taken to YouTube to stage his own responses to the questions posed during the nationally televised debates.

To say Roemer’s candidacy is a longshot is an understatement. Barring some inexplicable obliteration of all viable GOP contenders, Roemer’s poll numbers aren’t likely to rise above one percent in early contests, meaning he won’t be heard in debates. “There’s nothing about him that’s particularly intriguing,” Birmingham-Southern College political scientist Natalie Davis told the Christian Science Monitor. “I can’t come up with any kind of scenario where he could do well.”

Posted by on September 12, 2011. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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