The seat being left vacant by Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal will in all likelihood stay in Republican hands, but the competitors are stacking up in what promises to be a classic south Louisiana race.
The wild card on the ballot could very well be Rep. Charlie Melancon, a Democrat from Napoleonville whose recent vote on a right-to-work bill has angered his labor support. For Dems, labor money can account for up to 30 percent of their campaign kitty, so the tiff, although quiet up to now, is being taken seriously. Additionally, with the number of voters the district lost to the 2005 hurricanes and redistricting right around the corner, Melancon's camp is already preoccupied and nervous enough.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are at the core of the two most organized challenges facing members of the Louisiana delegation. The National Republican Senatorial Committee is hoping the Democratic base of Sen. Mary Landrieu of New Orleans has been wiped out to the point of benefitting a GOP candidate. The NRSC has handpicked Treasurer John Kennedy as its conservative banner-holder, but Secretary of State Jay Dardenne has not yet ruled out an entrance.
Landrieu's vulnerability is not being taken lightly on the Hill. In a recent report published by Congressional Quarterly, a non-partisan publication, Landrieu's name was mentioned as a possible appointee to the Department of Homeland Security should a Democrat take the White House. The report suggested that Landrieu would "land softly" if taken out by Kennedy, Dardenne or another headhunter.
For now, the NRSC is sticking to good old oppo research, attacking Landrieu on her votes and quotes. Most recently, the group lashed out at Landrieu for standing with Democrats in the Senate to insist upon adding troop withdrawal timetables to emergency spending legislation for the military. President Bush has promised he would veto any legislation with such language.
According to a senior Army officer quoted in a story on Military.com, an online news hub connected closely with the Armed Forces, "quality of life programs for soldiers and their families would be affected worldwide if the Army doesn't receive additional funding from Congress soon." It goes on to claim that roughly "200,000 Army civilians and contractors worldwide could be furloughed or temporarily laid off if the funding isn't provided."
NRSC Communications Director Rebecca Fisher is milking it for as much as she can, although it's a gentle salvo compared to what's coming next year. "The necessary additional funding is being held up by Mary Landrieu and Democrats in Congress who continue to insist upon adding troop withdrawal timetables to the emergency spending legislation for the military," Fisher says. "How does Mary Landrieu plan on explaining to voters in Louisiana that since Democrats have put thousands of Americans out of work, they might not be having Christmas?"
Landrieu says she didn't want to see the funding "interrupted by a partisan political fight," but a stand had to be made on the issue. "We need to establish specific objectives for our presence [in Iraq], clear benchmarks for our success, and a commitment to bringing our troops home once these goals are achieved," Landrieu says. "But unrealistic timetables or irresponsible cuts to troop funding are not acceptable substitutes for a coherent strategy."
Louisiana's senior senator will surely be taken to task on every questionable vote, but she has also been proactive, filing legislation on immigration and terrorism that move her closer to center on the political spectrum.
On the flip side of the GOP strategy, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is aiming at Rep. Richard Baker of Baton Rouge because there could be a new bulk of Democratic voters in the 6th District that were displaced by the hurricanes. "Richard Baker is definitely one of our targets this session," says Kyra Jennings, a DCCC spokeswoman. "We believe he is vulnerable, but it will take the right kind of Democrat to run in that district, someone who is moderate-to-conservative, and we have been recruiting that caliber of candidate." (State Rep. Don Cazayoux of New Roads, who seems to have been edged out of the ongoing race for House speaker, is on the top of the lonely list.)
The tough talk is nothing new for Baker; he's faced stiff opposition in the past. "My district has a long history of being targeted like this, and I'm expecting more of the same next year," Baker says. "Democrats are going to be spending a lot of money in the Senate race and presidential race, so they figure they may as well drop some money in this one, too."
More than anything else, party loyalty is a major theme among state GOP die hards these days when addressing Baker's future. During this year's elections, he endorsed Democrats for statewide and local office. The decision has infuriated a few "big money" Republicans, one veteran strategist says, and they won't soon forget. When asked why he would go out on a limb, Baker says he was simply paying out for chips being cashed in by people he respects. "In politics, you have friends and you don't ask your friends whether they're Republican or Democrat," Baker says. "In past campaigns I have had Democrats support me to their detriment, and I was merely returning political favors."
Favors are indeed good to have, but it appears both Baker and Landrieu will need much more than markers to make it through the 2008 election season ' and they won't be alone in struggling to maintain their seats.
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
WaPo Watergate editor Ben Bradlee dies; Clintons stump for Dems; Liberians stranded and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 22, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.