Richmond, Cao, Vitter dominate political discussion at Rising Tide 5

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Questions surrounding State Rep. Cedric Richmond, as well as the re-election campaigns of U.S. Rep. Joseph Cao and U.S. Sen. David Vitter were the main points of discussion Saturday at the Rising Tide 5 politics panel.

Moderator Peter Athas (of the Adrastos blog) drove the panel straight into the Richmond issue from the outset, beginning by asking blogger Jason Perry of American Zombie to describe his recent allegations against the state representative and Congressional candidate. Since Aug. 13, Perry has been writing posts alleging that Richmond was involved in the misuse of state grant money to a nonprofit, and he said he has been waiting on the mainstream media to acknowledge them. The mainstream media – represented by Times-Picayune columnist Stephanie Grace and Gambit columnist Clancy Dubos – responded that the grant system was set up by legislators as a slush fund for them to distribute at their discretion, and whether Richmond crossed any lines in his dealing with it remains to be determined.

The panel then turned its attention to Cao and Vitter. The consensus among the panelists is that Cao is generally very well-liked and very highly regarded, and may have a shot at re-election in a tough district despite an unpopular vote against health-care reform.”I think Cao will pay the price for voting against health care,” said panelist Jacques Morial, describing the numbers of uninsured in Cao’s New Orleans-area district whom the bill will help.

Vitter, on the other hand, was reviled as a man of low character by the panelists, but also a savvy political strategist with a strong chance of winning. “In Louisiana, people dislike Obama more than they dislike hypocrisy,” Dubos said.

(Click below to read live coverage of Rising Tide 5’s politics panel, which features blogger Peter Athas, blogger Jason Perry, political writer Clancy Dubos, columnist Stephanie Grace, HBO star Jacques Morial and radio personality Jeff Crouere.)

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