Unlike some of her colleagues, Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu survived her first election challenge Tuesday night — for now.
Now Landrieu will head to a run off election in December against Republican opponent Rep. Bill Cassidy. The winner of that election will become Lousiana’s next senator.
Landrieu was locked into a tight race with Cassidy this year. What may have looked like a easy win for Landrieu early on became an uphill slog as Cassidy gained in the polls. The Real Clear Politics average had Cassidy leading Landrieu by nearly 5 points going into the election.
Cassidy and Republicans hit Landrieu hard on her failure to convince Senate Democrats and the Obama administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline and liquefied natural gas terminals.
Landrieu is the chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee where she pushed hard to get the Obama administration to act on energy issues. But Republicans argue that despite her years in office she has little influence on the White House.
Cassidy hit Landrieu on her record of voting with the Democratic majority on issues, like health care, which he says are against the interests of Louisianans.
“Sen. Landrieu’s first vote will be for Harry Reid for Senate majority leader,” Cassidy in a Senate debate last month. “Harry Reid has turned the Senate into a rubber stamp for Barack Obama, approving his agenda.”
“She said she had done everything in her power — that just means she’s not very powerful,” Cassidy said.
“Sometimes I do vote against the president — contrary to what these two say — because I do whatever it takes to deliver for the people of Louisiana,” Landrieu countered.
Landrieu hit back at Cassidy, charging him with introducing a “version of the Affordable Care Act” while a state legislature. She also attacked Cassidy for voting against Medicare.
“Congressman Cassidy voted to end Medicare as we know it: not end it, but cut it and go to a voucher program. … For 18 months, he’s been running away from his record,” Landrieu said in the debate.
“All he talks about is President Obama,” she said. “He has some answering to do for his own record.”
But energy issues have been largely absent from Landrieu’s final push to convince voters she should get six more years in office. As the election neared, Landrieu complained that women and minority candidates have a tough time in southern states like Louisiana.
“I’m going to be very, very honest with you. The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans,” Landrieu said last week. “It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader.
“It’s not always been a good place for women to be able to present ourselves,” Landrieu added. “It’s more of a conservative place, so we’ve had to work a little bit harder on that. But, you know, the people trust me, I believe. Really, they do. They trust me to do the right thing for the state.”
Candidates raised $27 million this election, reports the Shreveport Times, and “millions more were spent by outside groups who have blanketed TV and radio with attack ads in a barrage unlike anything Louisiana voters have seen in prior elections.”
The energy money followed Landrieu this election, according to Politico. Landrieu raised about $1.8 million from energy interests through October. Cassidy only raised about $800,000 from energy interests through October.
But while the energy industry has bet on Landrieu, liberal supporters all but abandoned her campaign. Politico notes that large “national environmental groups, women’s organizations and unions are barely lifting a finger for the embattled Louisiana Democrat” who is an unabashed supporter of fossil fuels and supports Louisiana’s gay marriage ban.
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