On paper, it would appear that Lafayette native and Baton Rouge businessman Lee Domingue would be invincible in his race to fill the state Senate seat of recently elected U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Domingue, a wealthy software tycoon and son of longtime Lafayette political operative Floyd Domingue (who worked in the Bowen administration, ran unsuccessfully for Lafayette’s clerk of court in 1999 and was the third place finisher in the race for city-parish president in 2003), apparently traded in his wild ways some time ago. Lee, who admitted to flunking out of both UL and LSU, is now a clean-cut, good-looking born-again Christian. He’s also self funded and well spoken. Seriously, how could he lose?
For starters, in what might be compared to the political equivalent of the O.J. Simpson trial, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Baton Rouge Business Report Publisher Rolfe McCollister seem to have overplayed their political hand. Jindal endorsed Lee Domingue in the District 16 Senate primary against two other Republicans, including his longtime supporter Laurinda Calongne (who is originally from Abbeville). When Calongne failed to make the runoff, she threw her support to political journeyman Dan Claitor over Jindal’s hand-picked candidate Domingue.
For his part, McCollister, also a Domingue supporter, has since engaged and attacked political blogger Pat Bergeron, who is responding in kind with daily carpet bombings of Domingue. Bergeron notes in part that Domingue failed to vote in nine of the last 10 elections — including one for the seat he is now seeking. Bergeron’s site also reports that by the end of this week Domingue will have spent more than $600,000 to secure a job that pays less than $40,000 a year.
Fueling that fire is the front page story by The Advocate (which has no love for media rival McCollister or Jindal) detailing how local philanthropist Paula Pennington (of the Pennington oil family) was allegedly left holding the bag by Domingue on some investments.
Many business people in Baton Rouge see this as a referendum on Jindal’s popularity. The election is this Saturday.