Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 6, 2015

Posts in "Louisiana"

October 2, 2015

Louisiana Governor’s Race Less Certain for David Vitter

UNITED STATES - JUNE 23: Sen. David Vitter, R-La., participates in a press conference on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 to introduce a six-year highway reauthorization bill titled the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act (DRIVE Act). (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A couple recent polls show Vitter struggling to consolidate support against a Democrat in a runoff. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For months, GOP Sen. David Vitter has been the front-runner in this year’s race to succeed term-limited governor/Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal.

But even though Louisiana has completed its transformation to a Republican state, Vitter’s election is not a foregone conclusion.

Full story

September 1, 2015

Does David Vitter Have Something to Worry About?

UNITED STATES - JUNE 23: Sen. David Vitter, R-La., participates in a press conference on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 to introduce a six-year highway reauthorization bill titled the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act (DRIVE Act). (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Poll numbers in the 20s are a red flag for someone with high name recognition like Vitter. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Two-term Republican Sen. David Vitter started his bid for Louisiana governor as a solid, if not prohibitive, favorite. But Pelican State watchers believe that Vitter’s prospects look less certain now than they did six months ago.

Does Vitter really have something to worry about? The answer to that question depends on whether you think three recent polls are close to being correct.

Full story

July 30, 2015

A Brief Electoral History of Recently Indicted Congressmen

Rep. Michael Grimm

Grimm won re-election by a dozen points with a 19-count indictment hanging over him. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)


It might be easy to scoff at Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania for talking about his re-election bid on the same day he faced a 29-count indictment on corruption charges, but the most recent members of the House to be indicted held their own at the ballot box, at least initially. The last two members of the House to be indicted won their next election.

After New York Republican Rep. Michael G. Grimm was indicted in 2014, I wrote about how it reminded me of one of my worst mistakes as a political handicapper and how I didn’t want to repeat it. Apparently, I’m a slow learner.

Full story

May 12, 2015

Why It’s a Mistake to Dismiss Bobby Jindal

Jindal speaks at CPAC in National Harbor, Md. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Jindal speaks at CPAC in National Harbor, Md. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is a bit of a conundrum.

Full story

May 5, 2015

Senate Races, Pro Salaries and Perspective on Spending

Reid, pictured here with fellow Las Vegas native Bryce Harper, has railed against the influence of money in politics. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Reid, pictured here with fellow Las Vegas native and Washington National Bryce Harper, has railed against the influence of money in politics. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Complaining about campaign spending is a time-honored tradition, along with the Kentucky Derby and Major League Baseball. But a closer look reveals the dollars spent on controlling government pales in comparison to spending in other areas of life. Full story

December 9, 2014

Democrats Abandoned Mary Landrieu in the Runoff. Does it Matter?

Ben Carson

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Party campaign committees are incumbent led and incumbent driven, so how important is it for the committees to support incumbents to the bitter end?

Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu lost re-election in Louisiana, 56 percent to 44 percent, to Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy. But in the days running up to the race on Saturday, there was some criticism that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee didn’t do enough to help the senator.

After Landrieu finished first, but with just 42 percent, in the November jungle primary, the DSCC cancelled its television ad reservations for the runoff and never replaced them.

“I wish she had more air cover,” Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., told The Hill before the runoff. “I was there because she’s my friend, but more importantly she’s done an extraordinary job for the people of Louisiana, and you don’t abandon your friends when times get tough.” Full story

Mary Landrieu’s Loss and the End of Ticket Splitting

Ben Carson

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Louisiana Sen. Mary L. Landrieu’s defeat in the Dec. 6 runoff certainly was no surprise. If anything, it seemed inevitable since the evening of Nov. 4, when it became clear a Republican rout was underway and Democrats would lose control of the Senate.

But the veteran Democrat’s defeat is another reminder we have entered a period of parliamentary elections, where the parties stand for starkly different ideological agendas and where ticket-splitting, which follows from individual evaluations apart from party, is relatively rare.

In the end, the “Landrieu brand” in Louisiana did not matter any more than the Pryor brand mattered in Arkansas or the Begich brand mattered in Alaska. Party labels mattered far more than the individual names of the candidates. Voters in all three states saw the incumbents’ Democratic label, and that made their decisions easy. Full story

November 17, 2014

Lessons for Democratic Strategists From 2014

Ralph Reed

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

You could feel it from Day One of this cycle. Senate Democratic strategists knew they were smarter than their Republican adversaries. They’d out-think them and out-work them.

Incumbent Democratic senators who run good campaigns rarely lose, I was reminded. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, who had been appointed to his seat, won a tough race in 2010. So did Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. And Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill did the same in 2012.

This cycle, vulnerable Democratic incumbents in red states such as Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana had great political names and deep connections to the voters. They knew how to win, just like Democrats Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana did two years ago. (Of course, Heitkamp and Donnelly won in a presidential year, with its different dynamic.)

How many times did I hear or read that Sen. Mark Pryor was no Blanche Lincoln? That comment was meant to highlight Pryor’s political strengths, but also to throw Lincoln (who lost re-election in 2010) under the bus so party strategists didn’t have to look at why she lost and how hostile the Arkansas terrain has become for any Democrat.

“They have their own brands,” I heard repeatedly about Pryor and Sens. Mark Begich in Alaska and Mary L. Landrieu in Louisiana from Democratic operatives and journalists.

But, Bennet, Reid and McCaskill were victorious because the GOP nominated horrible candidates against them, not because the Democratic candidates had such untouchable brands, Democratic strategists had unique insights or party operatives knew how to win tough races. Full story

November 11, 2014

Mary Landrieu’s Tall Task in the Louisiana Runoff

Louisiana Senate

Landrieu is in a tough spot heading into her runoff election with Cassidy. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu has already made it quite clear that she isn’t going to go quietly in her bid to win a fourth term in next month’s Dec. 6 runoff.

Her effort to brand Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy as “nearly incoherent” ranks up there with Kentucky Democrat Dan Mongiardo’s effort to label Republican Sen. Jim Bunning as not entirely in control of his senses during that state’s 2004 Senate race. (Bunning, who started the race as an overwhelming favorite, was re-elected by only 22,000 votes, a margin of fewer than 2 points.)

This is the ultimate example of trying to “localize” a race, of trying to get voters to focus on the two candidates and forget everything else.

Landrieu doesn’t explain the source of her opponent’s alleged incoherence. But to her campaign, it doesn’t matter whether voters think that Cassidy might have an alcohol or pharmacological problem, or whether they think that he is merely “not quite right.” Full story

November 6, 2014

Ratings Change: Louisiana Senate

There was a chance the entire country would be spending the month of November focused on Louisiana, as the Senate majority hinged on the fate of Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu in a December runoff. That scenario has evaporated, but is the race still worth watching?

Landrieu finished first in the Nov. 4 jungle primary, but with just 42 percent. GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy finished second with 41 percent, followed by Republican Rob Maness at 14 percent. For some perspective, Landrieu won re-election in 2008 with 52 percent.

In 2002, Landrieu received 46 percent in the initial primary and 52 percent in the runoff. My colleague, Stu Rothenberg, will have a deeper analysis about that race and this year’s contest early next week. Full story

November 4, 2014

GOP Candidates More Popular Than Democrats in Top Senate Races

Mary Landrieu

Landrieu arrives at a rally with supporters in Shreveport. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Here is an emerging surprise of the midterm elections: Republican candidates are more popular than Democratic candidates in top Senate contests.

It’s no secret the path to victory for Democrats in the Senate was to demonize GOP candidates in the eyes of voters who are dissatisfied with President Barack Obama. For much of the cycle, Democrats were banking on their incumbents’ personal popularity and connection to each of their states being enough to carry them to victory.

But after millions of dollars worth of attack ads, Republican candidates appear to have weathered the Democratic storm and are held in higher standing with voters coming into Election Day in a handful of key contests.

Full story

October 17, 2014

Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Ratings Changes

Mark Pryor

Nunn is challenging Perdue for Georgia Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While national polls show a stable landscape, polls in individual races continue to show some movement. That movement leads us to make a number of changes to our Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call ratings.

Most of the House changes benefit the GOP, while the Senate and governor changes are far more mixed.

Senate Changes:

  • Georgia (GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss is retiring) from Republican Favored to Leans Republican.
  • Louisiana Senate (Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu) from Pure Tossup to Tossup/Tilts Republican.

(Read more about the Senate changes in the Oct. 17 Rothenberg Political Report ($))

House Changes: Full story

September 30, 2014

Family Ties May Not Be Enough to Save Vulnerable Senators

Rodney Davis

Landrieu may not be laughing come November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It seems like everyone wrote the story: Family political dynasties were supposed to save Mark Begich, Mark Pryor and Mary L. Landrieu, the trio of vulnerable Democratic senators running for re-election in Republican-leaning states.

But as the sports adage says, “That’s why they play the games.”

The three Democrats’ strong family connections to voters in Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana respectively has been one of the most popular narratives of the 2014 cycle. Roll Call, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Newsweek and National Journal all wrote similar stories, just to mention a few.

But with five weeks to go before Election Day, Pryor, Begich and Landrieu are even more vulnerable than they were when the cycle started. And their Democratic colleague, North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, is arguably in better position for re-election, even though she lacks a similar political pedigree. Full story

September 23, 2014

Fight for Senate Control Down to Five States

With six weeks to go, the fight for control of the Senate is down to five states, four of them currently held by Democrats.

Republicans must win only two of those contests to guarantee the 51 seats they need to control the Senate for the last two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. And they need to win only one of the Democratic states if they hold the only GOP seat at serious risk.

While things could still change — and national polls continue to show an environment that may produce a substantial GOP wave in the House and Senate — the Senate battle has boiled down to two reliably red states and three swing states.

Full story

August 28, 2014

Top 5 Races to Watch in the South

Mary Landrieu

Landrieu’s race could decide the majority. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The South continues to be dominated by big Senate races, with a couple of interesting House races sprinkled in for fun.

There have been two changes to the 5 races to watch list since last summer. North Carolina’s 7th District dropped off after Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre chose retirement instead of another competitive race against Republican David Rouzer. The Kentucky Senate race is still competitive between Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, but everyone will be watching that race regardless of whether I include it on the list.

Here are the top five races to watch in the South next year: Full story

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