Mary Landrieu defeated in Senate race


U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu gave her concession speech  Dec. 6 following a runoff election between the longtime Democrat and Republican state Rep. Bill Cassidy.
  • U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu gave her concession speech Dec. 6 following a runoff election between the longtime Democrat and Republican state Rep. Bill Cassidy.

After 15 years in the U.S. Senate, Mary Landrieu will not return for a fourth term. Following a battle for the seat between the longtime incumbent senior Democratic senator and Republican state Rep. Bill Cassidy, Landrieu congratulated Cassidy on a race that ended in a runoff Dec. 6 with Cassidy receiving more than 56 percent of the vote.

Cassidy, who has represented Baton Rouge's 6th congressional district since 2008, will be sworn in next month. He joins fellow Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter.

Landrieu’s loss now leaves Louisiana without any women holding statewide elected office (for the first time in several decades) and dips the state further into the red. Landrieu was among the last of the southern Democrats holding statewide elected office in the southern states. Cassidy's win gives Republicans nine more seats (totaling 54) in the U.S. Senate, tipping the scales further into a Republican majority.

In The Roosevelt hotel lobby, lit up with spectacular white lights for Christmas, dozens of people gathered for several events on several floors, and by 8 p.m., a quiet ballroom filled with Landrieu supporters. The PA blasted the theme from Rocky and "Eye of the Tiger." As early voting results rolled in, the PA played "Tell Me Something Good." Thirty minutes later, the Associated Press had called the election for Cassidy.

Dozens of supporters — including a who's who of Louisiana Democrats, from James Carville to members of Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration, current and former New Orleans City Council members, and state Rep. Helen Moreno — filled the ballroom. When Landrieu took the stage for her concession speech, she was flanked by Landrieu family members and many others.

"Representing the people of this state is the greatest honor anyone could have," she said. "We have so much to be proud of — a record of courage, integrity, honesty, and delivering for the state when it mattered most: after Katrina, Rita. ... It has been a fight worth waging. Louisiana will always be worth fighting for."

As she exited the stage, the PA played Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off."

Landrieu also didn't say whether she finished serving the state, and seemed energetic in her resolution for more work to be done, though she welcomed the "deep and extraordinary bench of young Democratic leaders in the state."

Mary Landrieu and husband Frank Snellings following Landrieu's concession speech.
  • Mary Landrieu and husband Frank Snellings following Landrieu's concession speech.

As polls predicted a runoff between Cassidy and Landrieu in the Nov. 4 election, they also predicted her loss Dec. 6. As soon as the runoff race began, Cassidy's camp revved up a strategy linking Landrieu to President Barack Obama, a strategy seen nationwide as Republicans have jumped on Obama’s declining popularity. Cassidy took particular aim at Landrieu for supporting the Affordable Care Act, which Cassidy hopes to overturn, and he has repeated a refrain of "97 percent" — how often Landrieu has supported the president, according to Cassidy. Ads powered by the Koch brothers- and Karl Rove-linked super PACs poured millions into anti-Landrieu (and anti-Obama) ads. Landrieu, meanwhile, painted Cassidy as an absentee, who declined to participate in debates. More recently, Landrieu jumped on recent reports of charges against Cassidy alleging payroll fraud for earning income from LSU Health Science Center while serving in Congress for work that was not performed.

Landrieu received 42 percent of the vote in November's election to Cassidy’s 41. Tea party-backed Republican candidate Ret. Air Force Col. Rob Maness received 14 percent. Last month, Maness encouraged his voters to support Cassidy in the runoff. That, with Obama’s increasing unpopularity in Louisiana and attack ads aggressively linking Landrieu to the president, sealed Landrieu’s fate Dec. 6. Cassidy also had the support of national conservative figures, who stumped for him over the last month. Landrieu, meanwhile, received support from Hillary Clinton, who rallied with the senator in New Orleans. Her campaign's calling card was her seniority and "clout," along with her service on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

In his victory speech in Baton Rouge, Cassidy said his win "happened because people in Louisiana voted for a government that serves us, that does not tell us what to do."

Landrieu — daughter of former New Orleans mayor Moon and sister of Mitch — served in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1980 to 1988, followed by two terms as state treasurer from 1988 to 1996. Following an unsuccessful bid for governor in 1995, Landrieu pursued the U.S. Senate seat in 1996, defeating then state Rep. Woody Jenkins in a controversial runoff election, in which she won by a hair more than 6,000 votes. She won reelections in 2002 and 2008.

In her career as Louisiana’s senior senator, Landrieu campaigned for disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and criticized then-President George W. Bush’s response. She also passed legislation to secure offshore drilling revenues (which are estimated to climb to $500 million a year within the next few years) to support coastal restoration. She helped lead passage of the RESTORE Act by gathering support from across the aisle along the Gulf Coast in the wake of the BP oil disaster. She most recently fought for passage of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, though opponents criticized her for being responsible for its failure.

Landrieu also has voiced her “personal” support of same-sex marriage, though she also defends the state’s constitutional ban which was supported by voters in 2004.

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