Mary Landrieu’s last stand.Dec 8, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 13 • By QUIN HILLYER
Atchafalaya Basin, La.
Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu is flailing in the political current. The three-term Democratic senator is a Hubert Humphrey liberal masked as a John Breaux left-centrist, submerged in a national party that’s now left of George McGovern, in a state where political winds are blowing starboard.
And she’s anchored by weight of her own choosing. Landrieu didn’t have to ignore opinion polls and vote for Obamacare, but she did. She didn’t have to vote for radical Obama nominees like Debo Adegbile, pro bono legal advocate for cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, but she did. It was her own choice to vote against repealing the medical device tax and to vote increasingly pro-abortion in a pro-life state. She started her Senate career somewhat left of her Louisiana mentors Breaux and Bennett Johnston, and moved even further left. Breaux’s lifetime American Conservative Union rating was 45, Johnston’s 41; Landrieu’s is 20.
It’s no wonder Landrieu is all but written off for reelection. No candidate won a majority in Louisiana’s nonpartisan primary held Election Day, so the two top candidates face a runoff December 6. Polls show Republican Bill Cassidy, a doctor and three-term congressman, with a double-digit lead.
But Landrieu still fights—hard. Even on Election Day, addressing a media scrum after casting her own vote, she ripped into Cassidy: for his votes on disaster relief, for refusing to debate enough, for opposing “equal pay.” Despite a relentlessly negative campaign—which has drawn copious criticism from local and national press—the Landrieu effort maintains an energy that, in the Louisiana political tradition, has an appealingly entertaining vibe. That energy emanates from Landrieu herself, who for 35 years of public life has tried to outwork everybody around her. Now, stitching together a biracial conglomeration of mini-coalitions in every working-class small town, her campaign might be the nation’s last of its kind: old-style Southern populism, with a dusting of Cajun spice.
Two weeks before the runoff, Mary’s brother Mitch, mayor of New Orleans, traveled three hours west, across the Atchafalaya Basin’s miles of marshland, to the town of New Iberia. The mayor is his sister’s best advocate, casually engaging and remarkably persuasive.
“My sister is the oldest of 11 children,” he says, “all born within 11 years. That’s why she’s so bossy.” (The audience, 50 luncheon guests of the local Democratic party, laughs appreciatively.) “But she’s always shown a serious streak of independence. It allows her to serve with great distinction.” He continues with a tally. “Our coast is disappearing at 100 yards every 45 minutes, and Mary took up the fight. She made sure Louisiana got its fair share from offshore oil and gas,” he says. “Mary is 100 percent for Louisiana, all the time. . . . She got money for Barksdale Air Force Base. She got money for Fort Polk. She got money for Interstate 49. She went to battle for us again and again.”
He builds a compelling case for his sister with an infectiously upbeat demeanor. His defense of Obamacare is deeply personal but not maudlin: Nineteen years ago, doctors found a malignant, three-pound tumor in the stomach of the mayor’s daughter Emily, then 6. All the usual, horrendous treatments followed; Emily survived and is now a successful executive of some sort. Without Obamacare forcing coverage of preexisting conditions, her father says, she would probably be ineligible today for health insurance.
Cassidy provides the flip side to that argument the next day, back across the marsh and the Mississippi, in the town of Gonzales, a half-hour south of Baton Rouge and best known for its Jambalaya Festival. Cassidy is focused, disciplined, clinical—about as far from Louisiana’s populist tradition as can be imagined. Asked before the rally for some favorite anecdotes from the campaign trail, he comes up with nothing folksy. Instead, he says, “I’ve been struck that Obamacare has been the principal issue. In Jefferson Parish, a 54-year-old woman who had had a hysterectomy, had no children, is being forced to pay $1,500 per month for a plan covering things she doesn’t want. She asks me why she would ever need obstetric care or pediatric dentistry. Then there was a guy in Hammond, mid-50s, boys 18 or 19 years old. Two years ago his family paid $12,000 a year for insurance; last year it rose to $21,000, and this year they’re told it will be another
20 percent increase.” He concludes: “If people are not getting a subsidy, they are getting pounded.”
6:22 PM, Nov 19, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The United State Senate voted down the Save Mary Landrieu Act of 2014 by one vote last night. Senator Landrieu had hoped to persuade her constituents in Louisiana that she could bring home the pork owing to her seniority and her savvy in the ways of Washington. She would get a pipeline bill passed into law; one that had been languishing in Washington for some six years during which nobody seemed terribly aware of her clout. The pipeline vote, though, would surely show them.
9:46 PM, Nov 4, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican Bill Cassidy will continue their race for the U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana in a December runoff, NBC News projects. Cassidy, a congressman from Baton Rouge, leads the incumbent Landrieu, but neither candidate will earn 50 percent of the vote. Under Louisiana's jungle primary laws, the winning candidate must receive a majority of the vote.
6:03 PM, Oct 30, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu told NBC's Chuck Todd that she has had to work harder for her reelection to the U.S. Senate because the South has "not always been the friendliest place for African Americans."
4:04 PM, Sep 30, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Republican Elbert Guillory, a state senator in Louisiana, has released a new web video through his Free At Last PAC that criticizes Democratic senator Mary Landrieu's record.
"Since 1996, black unemployment has doubled and the poverty rate for blacks has skyrocketed. Mary hasn't helped us all," says Guillory. "So on November 4, let's send her back home to her father's house or to her mansion in Washington, D.C., or wherever the heck she lives." The Republican pol doesn't mince words as he argues that blacks are "just a vote" to Landrieu and Democrats. Watch the video below:
So why did she build a DC mansion?1:31 PM, Sep 8, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Democratic senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana lists her parents' New Orleans address as her primary residence for voting purposes. But it's clear she and her husband consider their primary residence to be their multimillion-dollar home on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
11:04 AM, Sep 4, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Democratic senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana is already in the electoral battle of her life this November. Her national party is far out of step with Louisiana voters on health care, abortion, and energy issues, and the national mood is continuing to shift against the Democrats. And the leader of that party, President Obama, is deeply unpopular in the Bayou State.
Democratic senator lives with parents.4:02 PM, Aug 28, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The Washington Post reports that Democratic senator Mary Landrieu doesn't own a home in her state of Louisiana, instead listing her residence on federal election forms as either a mansion she owns in Washington, D.C. or her parents' home in New Orleans. Landrieu, who is facing a tough reelection battle in November, is registered to vote at the New Orleans address.
9:01 PM, Aug 18, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
How does a Democratic Senate candidate running in a conservative state in 2014 try to win? There are many strategies, from Louisiana’s incumbent senator Mary Landrieu emphasizing her ties to the energy industry to Michelle Nunn of Georgia running as a business-friendly moderate willing to work with Republicans. Behind the various strategies is an underlying principle: These Democrats should distance themselves as far as possible from their unpopular party and its head, the increasingly unpopular Barack Obama.
But the Louisiana Democrat supported similar changes to federal programs.3:14 PM, Jul 15, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The Mary Landrieu campaign is out with a new hit against the Louisiana Democrat's Republican opponent, Congressman Bill Cassidy. The 30-second ad focuses on Cassidy's support for policies that supposedly hurt senior citizens. Watch the video below:
"It was Congressman Bill Cassidy who voted to raise the Social Security retirement age to 70, cut Social Security benefits for retirees, and raise Medicare costs by $6,000," says the voiceover.
2:23 PM, May 29, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Seven Democratic senators up for reelection in November have said they believe Veterans Affairs secretary Eric Shinseki should resign over revelations that his department severely mismanaged treatment of veterans at VA hospitals that may have resulted in the deaths of scores of veterans across the country.
10:08 AM, May 28, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A new ad campaign from Concerned Veterans for America asks Democratic senators to hold the Department of Veterans Affairs accountable. "President Obama won't hold the VA accountable," says the voiceover in one version of the ad, focusing on Arkansas's Mark Pryor. "Senator Mark Pryor can, but he's done nothing, putting his loyalty to his party and the president ahead of America's veterans."
8:06 AM, Apr 23, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor has a 10-point lead in his race to retain his Senate seat, according to a new poll from the New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation. A two-term senator, Pryor has 46 percent support, while his challenger, Republican congressman Tom Cotton, has 36 percent support. Pryor also has 47 percent approval rating as senator, the poll found.
10:59 AM, Apr 15, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Democratic senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana is in a tough reelection battle because of her support for Obamacare. So its not surprising her latest TV ad focuses on the one high-profile fight she's had with the Obama administration, over oil and gas exploration. The 60-second spot features people watching Landrieu arguing for expanding energy exploration in Louisiana and criticizing Barack Obama for its restrictionist policies. Watch the video below:
10:14 AM, Mar 17, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Americans for Prosperity has two new ads running in Colorado and Louisiana knocking those state's Democratic senators, Mark Udall and Mary Landrieu, respectively, for their support for Obamacare. The ads, which are a version of earlier AFP ads targeting Democratic House members, feature a woman talking directly to the camera about how "Obamacare doesn't work. It just doesn't work." Watch the Colorado ad below: