Former state legislator Woody Jenkins won the Republican nomination Saturday for the special election to replace Louisiana Rep. Richard Baker, who retired this year to become a lobbyist. During Jenkins’s unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaigns in 1978, 1980, and 1996, he received his strongest support from far-right groups such as the Christian Coalition, Americans for Life League, and the Christian Action Network, and this run is no different: He’s received endorsements from James Dobson, Paul Weyrich, Tim LaHaye, and Family Research Council Action, as well as the Club for Growth’s PAC.
While it’s unusual to see FRC Action making an outright endorsement of a candidate, it should be no surprise, as FRC President Tony Perkins managed Jenkins’s 1996 Senate campaign. Many will recall that Perkins gained some notoriety for his role in buying Ku Klux Klansman David Duke’s phone bank list for Jenkins’s campaign and attempting to cover up the payment.
But what’s not commonly known is that Jenkins helped found the Council for National Policy in 1981, serving as its first executive director. “One day before the end of this century, the Council will be so influential that no president, regardless of party or philosophy, will be able to ignore us or our concerns or shut us out of the highest levels of government,” claimed Jenkins. For the past year, at least, Republican candidates for president have been hard pressed to ignore the secretive Religious Right gathering’s finicky vetting of candidates and its brief threat to ditch the GOP entirely. Even after he won, John McCain felt he had to go back before the council and plead for their grudging support.
What can voters expect from Jenkins? The Weekly Standard wrote in 1996 that he was “best known for leading the 1990 fight to pass what would have been the nation’s most restrictive abortion law and for occasionally bringing a plastic fetus onto the floor of the legislature.”