Rep. Bill Cassidy to challenge Sen. Mary Landrieu?


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After carrying nearly 80 percent of the vote in an expanded district and with close to $2 million still in the bank, U.S. Rep Bill Cassidy has become slightly more candid about about his political future — or rather, the re-election hopes of Sen. Mary Landrieu. "What American who loves their country wouldn't want to run for the U.S. Senate? And we certainly need some help in the Senate," said Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, adding that it is "dangerously anti-energy."

Considering that he entered the political arena in 2006, transforming a state Senate seat into a successful congressional bid in the span of just 23 months, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Cassidy is being aggressive. "We're going to go around the state and speak to supporters to see if there's an appetite for the idea," Cassidy said.

Although Cassidy has long gravitated to oil and gas issues, especially as a member of Energy and Commerce, the newly redrawn 6th District puts him in direct contact with the coast, its resources and those who have profited. Landrieu, a New Orleans Democrat, has enjoyed a delicate relationship with big oil in the past, and opponents have had a difficult go of labeling her as anti-energy, but Cassidy could be uniquely positioned to overshadow those alliances.

That rumors have persisted for months that he'll challenge Louisiana's senior senator is "proof that there's dissatisfaction with the status quo," Cassidy said. What remains to be seen is whether other Republican heavies, like Gov. Bobby Jindal or another congressman, want Landrieu's job as well.

Landrieu, up for re-election in two years, finds herself in a unique position as well. Democrats have a 54-45 edge in the Senate and Landrieu could position herself as a swing vote. It's a sticky game, though; siding with the GOP on tight votes might play well in conservative Louisiana, but it would chip away at her political roots. It's no wonder that Landrieu had to beat back her own rumors as this year kicked off, what with whispers about her retirement. But she contends she's standing pat, and Cassidy may be the first to officially enter the ring.


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