Sen. Mary Landrieu greeted supporters at her election night party.
As was widely predicted by pollsters, Sen. Mary Landrieu's fourth bid for the Senate ended short of victory Tuesday night. Neither she nor her Republican opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy, could crack the 50 percent margin necessary to avoid a runoff. With final ballots counted, Landrieu received 42.08 percent of the vote, while Cassidy notched 40.96 percent.
The third major candidate in the race, Ret. Air Force Col. Rob Maness, another Republican and tea party favorite, finished with 13.76 percent. "While we have fallen short tonight," Maness told supporters, "we shocked the establishment." He said he would support Cassidy in the runoff, which will take place Dec. 6.
Also no surprise: Rep. Steve Scalise, the newly elected House Majority Whip, easily won reelection in the 1st Congressional District with 77.54 percent of the vote, as did Rep. Cedric Richmond in the 2nd, with 68.69 percent.
Landrieu supporters began gathering early at the Hyatt Regency in the CBD, while Maness supporters held a party at Rock 'n' Bowl, reinforcing the candidate's message as a man of the people (Maness arrived to celebrate before the polls closed). Cassidy, a longtime resident of Baton Rouge, had his election party there. Even before the first numbers came in from Orleans Parish, however, both NBC News and ABC News had called a runoff in the Senate race.
Dozens of reporters from around the country were in attendance at the Landrieu party, demonstrating the level of national interest in the Louisiana Senate race. An hour before polls closed, Mayor Mitch Landrieu made the rounds of TV station cameras, speaking optimistically about his sister's chances for a third reelection. In recent days, he stumped for her in parts of the state where he's still remembered as a former lieutenant governor. State Rep. John Bel Edwards, who has announced his intention to run for governor in 2015, mingled with the crowd.
State Rep. John Bel Edwards, who has announced his candidacy for Louisiana governor in 2015, mingled with the crowd at Sen. Mary Landrieu's election night party.
Despite polls across the board that predicted Landrieu would face a runoff — due in large part to her association with President Barack Obama, who remains extremely unpopular in Louisiana — Landrieu had remained optimistic on the campaign trail when talking with reporters. On the eve of the election, she told
the Los Angeles Times
, "“We are going to surprise the nation. We are going to most importantly surprise Fox News… We are going to win this election. There is going to be a lot of confusion with the pundits tomorrow saying, how did we do it?” As for stories that called this her toughest race, Landrieu scoffed, saying her most challenging election was her first runoff for the U.S. Senate in 1996, where she topped Republican opponent Woody Jenkins by just more than 5,000 votes statewide. But the polls were right; victory was not to be.
NBC News, citing numbers from the GOP ad buying company Smart Media Group, reported that $44.6 million had been spent in Louisiana on the Senate race ($23.4 million on Republican candidates, $21.2 million on Democrats). With just less than 2.9 million registered voters in the state, that comes out to about $15.55 per voter.
Around 9:30 p.m., Landrieu aides cranked the music (Staple Singers, Michael Franti and Spearhead, the theme from Rocky
) and told the press the program was about to begin. Landrieu took the podium to cheers and immediately proclaimed, "We have the race we want." As for Cassidy, she said, "He has used the Koch Brothers wallet ... to distort our record of fighting for the people of Louisiana. Those days are over with."
Landrieu praised Maness, who, like her, showed up at five debates in the last few weeks of the election. "At least we have one value in common. We know how to show up and fight," she said, twitting Cassidy's record of turning down debates before challenging him to six debates in the next month. "And you're going to have to say more than President Obama's name in those debates," she said, leading the crowd in a chant of "Where Was Bill?".
"This is not about who the president is or who the president will be," Landrieu concluded. "This race is about the future of Louisiana."
NBC News, citing numbers from the GOP ad buying company Smart Media Group, reported that $44.6 million had been spent in Louisiana on the Senate race ($23.4 million on Republican candidates, $21.2 million on Democrats). With just less than 2.9 million registered voters in the state, that comes out to about $15.55 per voter. Expect a lot more to be poured into the state in the next four weeks.