Trying to make a difficult comeback against incumbent Republican David Vitter in Louisiana's Senate race, Democratic Rep. Charlie Melancon plans to launch a new television ad elevating the politics of the BP oil spill to sharper, more partisan heights.
Melancon's latest spot charges Vitter with going easy on BP in terms of the company's liability for the disastrous, months-long spill. It concludes with a bit of intra-party fireworks, attacking President Barack Obama for placing a moratorium on deepwater drilling while noting that Melancon helped pass legislation through the House reversing that decision -- an unpopular one on the Gulf Coast.
"David Vitter introduced a bill capping BP's liability at $150 million," the ad's narrator intones. "Damages could top $30 billion. Vitter was caught bailing out BP. But Charlie Melancon, recovery and cleanup, and the only bill passed ending President Obama's job-killing moratorium."
A Melancon aide said the ad buy is "significant" and will be airing in "every market in the state."
The spot doesn't do nuance. Vitter's bill, for instance, would cap oil spill damages at either $150 million or the company's last four quarters of profits, whichever is larger. In BP's case, the answer does seem likely to be $150 million. As for the moratorium, it remains ongoing. The House passed a measure to lift it, but the Senate, to no comfort of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), has failed to act.
That said, Melancon's ad is a sharp one, with particular relevance to Louisiana voters. It is also a reminder that despite months of headlines, the massive BP oil spill ended up having little political relevance beyond Gulf Coast states. Few candidates outside the region are running ads referencing the largest oil spill in recorded history.