Down in Shreveport: WCHV (Charlottesville, VA) Fox News Interview
Updated: Jan 11
Following Mayor-elect Tom Arceneaux's recent upset victory in Shreveport, LA, TBORAF President John Pudner returned to Charlottesville, Virginia, to analyze this historic win by looking at the focus of his candidacy, the unique team and circumstances behind his campaign, and detailing how Republicans can apply these lessons to run strong, insurgent campaigns across America that allow hard-working families to take back their communities.
The following transcript from this interview is presented in its entirety with minor edits:
Shreveport, Republicans, Democrats, vote, win, working, issues.
John Pudner and Joe Thomas.
Oak Ridge Boys 00:00
"If they saw him riding in, long hair flying in the wind, would they love him down in Shreveport today?"
Joe Thomas 00:13
Joe Thomas in the morning. Would they love him in Shreveport? Would they love a Republican in a city where they haven't elected a Republican in 100 years as mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana? Well, on the newsmakers line from Take Back our Republic is our friend, John Pudner, who is back from Shreveport with the word of how a Republican with the endorsement of a bunch of Democrats got elected mayor of Shreveport. John, welcome back my friend, how are you doing, sir?
John Pudner 00:46
Fantastic. Thanks for having me on.
Joe Thomas 00:48
Congratulations are in order, first and foremost. Now, as I understand it, this is another one of these southern style, nobody got 50% so we're off to a runoff, elections, correct? And then the fun started?
John Pudner 01:02
Yeah, it was. So, November was when they do the initial election, and we had to make the top two there, and then they have a Saturday runoff, which is a little interesting twist on things. So, Saturday was the actual election that made Tom Arceneaux the Republican Mayor of Shreveport.
Joe Thomas 01:18
And if I understand the incumbent mayor of Shreveport, who was looking for re-election, actually endorsed Arceneaux, correct?
John Pudner 01:26
Yes, he was in the initial race, but once it was over, we courted him and some of the other candidates who won and managed to get their endorsements. That was a nice breakthrough for us - we were the only Republican in the race initially, so having a couple of Democrats endorse was a big breakthrough.
Joe Thomas 01:45
So, talk about what the messaging was, because here, from Albemarle to Charlottesville, how do we do this? How can we get some Republicans across the finish line? What do we have to do?
John Pudner 01:59
Well, it really is all local. You know, in our case, we felt like the state senator, who was our opponent in the runoff, was just more focused on inside political connections and less on people, and that started to play out over time. And so, for us, it was, "Do you want someone who's got sort of insider deals, has big gambling interest in Shreveport, and other things," and whatever someone thinks of those issues, that make you think, "Hey, the opponent is looking out for people outside the district, we're here for the people of Shreveport, Louisiana." It really does all get local in a mayor's race.
Joe Thomas 02:37
And this is not one of those, "Hey, you won by a couple of 100 votes in a particularly Republican precinct and there was voter turnout down everywhere else." I mean, you won by 4000 plus votes and 12 percentage points in this race.
John Pudner 02:52
It was fantastic, and I've jokingly gotten the Mr. Moneyball from a stats guy, but there was a real Mr. Moneyball there. We had a great, well-known high school coach on her side, and he kept telling me it was at 53-47, and Election Day, after working the ground all day, came back and said now this is 55-45. He didn't do those numbers - he did that with a feel for the city. So, it was a nice 12-point win.
Joe Thomas 03:21
Now, you know, political consultants are much like lawyers giving free advice - I know that there's intellect out there far greater than even mine towards governing and creating a society where jobs are created, and people can find work, and we don't need government assistance for so many people. What do they need to think when they're gaslit into thinking, "He'd never win in the Scottsville precient, Al Whitehouse is never going to vote against Dan Malloc." What do they need to be thinking about, John?
John Pudner 03:59
Well, first of all, any political consultant should go door to door in these races. That's something we do just to get a feel for what are people really thinking out there. You know, crime is clearly an issue right now that can win over Democrats to a Republican candidate, so that could be the issue. Now, in some places it is, some it isn't. Green Bay, Wisconsin, we have an upcoming mayor's race and I'm already working on hitting doors. It's not as big an issue there, it's a pretty safe city, so is it running the finances? Is it crime? What are people concerned about? And so, clearly not a one size fits all, but town by town, you've got to figure out if people are more worried about roads being messed up, or crime, or you know, finding that issue, and what's the niche where the voter will vote for competence over perhaps ideology. That's the niche you've got to find.
Joe Thomas 05:01
John, correct me on the demographics of Shreveport. Majority minority city, 57% of the population is in the black community, and poverty is a big issue down there, isn't it?
John Pudner 05:15
That is correct.
Joe Thomas 05:17
So, you mentioned local messaging, and I think a lot of people in the post-mortem want to engage in this kind of woe-is-me stuff, and I think some of the places where defeats were snatched from the jaws of victory were based on candidates who felt like it was sufficient just to parrot whatever Sean Hannity said rather than tuning into what Joe Thomas said, and I'm using that as an analogy. They were talking "Biden bad", and had very little substance in the way of coming up with solutions. People like to vote for things. Is that what Arceneaux did down in Shreveport, give them some proactive things to support?
John Pudner 05:54
He did, you know, he talked about roads and crime, but he also, I loved his line on how, "We're gonna break down traditional barriers." I mean, a sign of that breaking into the black community, and we had people on the campaign who had worked with Democratic campaigns before, local people, so breaking it down, I would encourage people to think about candidates who are accountants, or teachers, or former police. What is the niche in the community where someone might say, "Hey, you know, I'd like a Republican based on competency in a particular issue." I mean, from my years living in your neck of the woods, Ken Boyd was the accountant who's on the board of supervisors, you know, I think they wanted someone watching the books a little bit who was fiscally responsible. Ed Rob, the state senator, got to work with him, too, he's been FBI agent of the year but he'd also been teacher of the year back at a younger age before his FBI career. So, is there some competency, because, you know, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maryland have Republican governors right now, now, two of them are outgoing, because they didn't run for election, Kansas has a Democratic governor. People will vote competency on fixing things and that's what you need to think about in thinking about candidates who could win a surprise race like this. And again, I couldn't care less about the political party. Just be about fixing the issues that are facing our area, including law enforcement, and things like that, and that's what I feel like is lost - to make the solution the answer not my party over their party, isn't it, John? Oh, it is, and where's party important and where isn't it? In legislative races, it always is going to be hard to escape the fact that you're counting to see who has the majority, so that's where a party can be a lot more important, someone might go with the letter by the name as opposed to the person. But particularly, in these executive races or local, where you aren't caught up in something that may pass the state legislature or pass Congress, that's where the party can be less important in who's running and what their real priorities are for you.
Joe Thomas 08:05
It comes down to what the issues are and what the role of government is there, John, and I get what you're saying about who has the majority, I wish it didn't quite mean so much.
John Pudner 08:17
Yeah, forcing people to work together is something that has been missing here, and yeah, you talked about not just running against Biden, I mean, look at the biggest win nationally of the year for Republicans, DeSantis. He greeted Biden when he flew down over in a disaster situation. It just looked a little normal, there's substance, return to normalcy, and, DeSantis talking to President Biden, and just, you know, shots of them walking from the plane, people kind of like that there's a time when there's a crisis, or is partisanship such the focus of everything that we can't just work through problems. particularly if there's a crisis.
Joe Thomas 08:59
I don't know if you're taking a well-needed Christmas break before 2023 begins, John, but just winning the first Republican mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana in 100 years with Democratic support. I know a lot of my listeners, if they hear me talking to a Democrat, they'll say, "Joe, why are you even giving them airtime for?" Did that harm him and what sort of discussions did he have with the base to make sure that getting this coalition was important?
John Pudner 09:29
Yeah, I think it's less of an issue when you're in that overwhelming of a democratic city versus another district. I think if you're in a state or locality where the other side's in control, your people in your party know that they have a chance, they're going to have to have a little different campaign, and you know, it's not going to be the red meat that you'd have in a more rural district that went +30 points for Trump or something. So no, they were really very accepting, everyone worked well together, and it's fun because Republicans and Democrats run races differently. I love just some little back and forth on what the candidate should be doing. Like, you know, the Democrats really wanted him waving signs at intersections, the Republicans really want him knocking on specific doors, and these weren't crisis arguments. It was fun to see the little different mentality and how the two sides win races and see them all together in a race.
Joe Thomas 10:21
I heard Newt Gingrich the other day saying, you know, Republicans think get out the vote campaigns are running ads saying get out and vote, whereas Democrats are running minivans. I think some of that has to be learned, especially until we can clean up some of the crazy voting laws.
John Pudner 10:37
We won the early vote in this race. Now, right now, Republicans are trying not to lose the early vote like 70-30. Republicans are not playing the first half of the football game right now. I mean, they're going down, you know, 21-3, saying early voting is bad. You've got to get votes in. Democrats are chasing ballots now, Republicans are chasing voters and sort of assuming they'll eventually get to the polls one way or the other, and they're not going to win as long as they do that.
Joe Thomas 11:03
John Pudner, its takebankaction.org. I really appreciate your early visit this morning.