Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

In Louisiana, Democrats Doth Protest Too Much

Cassidy is running for Senate. (Tom Williams/Roll Call via Getty Images)

Cassidy is running for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

If you were a Democrat who thought the GOP was heading toward selecting a weak nominee incapable of beating Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., next year, would you tear down that damaged candidate, knowing that it might bring stronger hopefuls into the race? Or would you keep your mouth shut, so Republicans would nominate the sure loser?

The answer is obvious, which is why all the huffing and puffing by the Campaign for Louisiana, a project of the Louisiana Democratic Party, about how terrible Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy’s Senate campaign is doesn’t make much sense.

It doesn’t make sense, unless, of course, the folks at the Campaign for Louisiana are worried about Cassidy and are simply using every opportunity to try to discredit him. Now that would be shocking, wouldn’t it?

In its Oct. 25 press release, the Campaign for Louisiana described Cassidy’s campaign as “listless” and “in serious trouble,” and the group’s recently appointed communications director, Andrew Zucker, called the three-term congressman from Baton Rouge “a weak and seriously flawed candidate whose campaign is on the ropes.”

If Zucker really believes that, he ought to be praying that Cassidy will be the Republican nominee in 2014 rather than belittle him.

Cassidy certainly has been taking some heat recently. First, University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato moved the Louisiana Senate race to Lean Democrat from Tossup, citing both the damaged GOP brand and the fact that Cassidy “has not impressed with his fundraising.”

Then, Associated Press reporter Melinda Deslatte wrote that the Republican’s campaign had “hit bumps” and cited “whispers that he’s just not the right candidate to beat Landrieu.”

Cassidy certainly isn’t the most dynamic, back-slapping politician in the state, and he may not be the ideal challenger to Landrieu. So what? Look down the list of current and former senators, and you’ll see many who were not “ideal.” (Both the Senate majority leader and minority leader are charisma-challenged.)

Yes, the senator outraised the congressman last quarter and ended September with almost $5.8 million in the bank, compared with Cassidy’s almost $3.5 million. But that’s not a prohibitive advantage, because challengers don’t need to match incumbents dollar-for-dollar to win.

In fact, Cassidy’s financial position at the end of September was quite good. He had more in cash on hand than any other non-incumbent and 17 incumbent senators seeking re-election this cycle. In Kentucky, for example, heavily publicized Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes showed just under $2 million in the bank, about a fifth of what her likely general-election opponent, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, has in cash on hand.

In 2007, Landrieu showed $3.35 million in cash on hand at the end of the third quarter, and she didn’t even have an announced opponent until the end of November. She ended up outspending her Republican opponent, John Kennedy, $10.1 million to $4.8 million for the entire race.

We are now in the age of super PACs, and Louisiana will likely be awash in political ads next year. Neither Landrieu nor Cassidy is likely to lose because of a lack of resources, so focusing on the Sept. 30 cash-on-hand differential is hardly convincing.

Given the state’s lack of enthusiasm for President Barack Obama, as evidenced by his showings in 2008 and 2012 (when he lost to Mitt Romney in the state by 17 points), I’m not sure how much damage Republicans suffered in the Pelican State as a result of the government shutdown, or how long-lasting any of it will be.

In fact, a survey conducted during the shutdown by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling for the liberal group Americans United for Change showed Landrieu leading Cassidy by only 48 percent to 41 percent.

Landrieu has now defeated three mediocre Republican Senate opponents — Louis “Woody” Jenkins, Suzanne Haik Terrell and Kennedy — in a state that was relatively late to realign. Her best showing was against Kennedy, when she drew an unimpressive 52 percent. Of course, that was in 2008, a good year for Democrats that included presidential year turnout.

There is no reason to believe that Landrieu, who is rightly regarded as an excellent campaigner, has become dramatically stronger over the past six years, and Democrats will have to work hard to avoid a damaging drop-off in black turnout in the off-year election. They may do so, though nobody can know for sure now.

I don’t yet know whom Republicans will nominate in Louisiana next year, though Cassidy is a strong favorite right now. And I don’t yet know whether Cassidy will beat Landrieu when Election Day rolls around about a year from now. But I do know unconvincing partisan spin when I hear it.

  • ID-2

    He has a good shot.

  • BayouPerspective

    There is no ‘Republican nomination’ in Louisiana. Oh well, I don’t expect DC ‘experts’ to know how the open primary works down here.

  • Jerry Huffman

    Landrieu is using the playbook of Claire Mccaskill of Missouri who tore down Sarah Steelman so she could run against Todd Akin. Beware of Democrats telling Republicans who to run!

    • mabramso

      Actually, the McCaskill playbook was to attack Akin for being “too conservative” for Missouri. Brilliant move — it was an attack on Akin meant to tear down independent support, while goading conservatives into voting for him over better candidates. It worked like a charm.

  • Mojojojo

    “Would you tear down that damaged candidate”? Seriously? Hell yes, to scare away future candidates. It’s standard practice, see McConnell with Ashley Judd!

    Cassidy polls poorly, and that’s before factoring in that he must outflank other Republicans in La.’s jungle primary. Why’re you propping up losing republicans?

  • thegreyman

    Given the New Orleans machine, with “95% turnout” and “100% democrat votes” in every election, she has a good shot.

    I don’t know much about Cassidy, but seeing as that woman willfully voted for me, a cancer patient, to lose my health insurance, I would vote for Satan himself over her. And walk on my lips through busted glass to help remove her from office.

    • mabramso

      Ouch, that hurts! :-)

  • jeffsadow

    This is a campaign to distract from the fact that Landrieu is in more trouble than she is letting on, given the current national and state climate; see

  • sumlikeit

    If Landrieu doesn’t fear the guy, why is she joining the “delay Obamacare” chorus? I certainly don’t have a finger on the pulse Louisiana politics. Maybe she really is a shoo-in. But I’ve always thought that actions speak louder than words.

  • pitch1934

    With Landrieu in office, I don’t see very much difference between a moderate conservative and her. She is no flaming liberal, that’s certain. And, didn’t the good honest folk of the bayou re-elect a person of questionable character in the last senate race?

    • Official Teabagger

      I believe that certain senator had a strong interest in diapers and hookers – and that seems to be a-okay with Louisiana values.voters.

    • Tommy

      Fat Mary only tacks to the right when it is time for an election. If you are speaking of Vitter’s transgression, I suggest you hold Bob Menendez and many preverted Democrats to the same standard. As for character, by selling her vote Landrieu’s behavior speaks volumes about her lack of character.

      Btw, Vitter didn’t sell out his constituents just to get a high profile piece of garbage legislation which does real harm to satisfy Obama’s ego.

  • ConservativeJoy

    I hope every single Democrat Senator who voted on December 24, 2009, to pass Obamacare is voted out of office. They knew the President was lying when he said IF YOU LIKE YOUR INSURANCE PLAN,YOU CAN KEEP IT! PERIOD.
    IF YOU LIKE YOUR DOCTOR! YOU CAN KEEP…YOUR COSTS WILL GO DOWN $2,500. Yet, they aided and abetted the President; their votes to pass Obamacare knowing these were all lies were immoral. They do not possess the moral principals our Founding Fathers expected of politicians.

    • PasoFinoCA

      Remember Senator Landreiu and the “Louisiana Purchase” vote? She traded your healthcare for some measly dollars of aid to the state.

  • Mark Delon

    Fat Mary has never held a real job. What a shame if she is relected.

  • teapartyidiots

    They want a hard core Tea Partier to turn out the NOLA vote. You don’t need to be a brain surgeon.

  • Tommy

    This time around Hitler could beat Fat Mary.
    Come on Fat Mary, tell us how proud you are of your vote to spring Obamacare. Tell us again how you would vote the same all over again. Tell us loudly and often so Louisianians won’t forget.

    • View From The Left

      you sound like a very angry and hateful man. I’m not sure she would want to engage in a conversation with such a dysfunctional person.

      • Tommy

        Fat Mary showed her contempt and hate for the people of Louisiana and her country by her vote and support for a bill that nobody wants. ACA takes one sixth of our economy and the health of the nation from the peope and puts it in hands of incompetent bureaucrats would couldn’t run a lemonade stand. Damn right I’m angry as are most people in this country who pay the freight for snarky leftists like you and the fat one.

        • View From The Left

          I’m sorry if I gave you the impression that I would like to engage in conversation with such an angry person as you, I don’t. There are plenty of others on here who can present a cogent, conservative analysis of LA politics without the childish and vulgar terms that you seem intent on using.
          Good luck to you but it’s time to grow up. You simply look foolish.

      • Sharon Tomalavage

        All I know is that I would Never vote for her or any democrat who voted for this Gestapo-like healthcare law. What sheer hypocrisy for those supporters to say “well, we had to do something for the folks who were subsidizing those who did Not have insurance”. So what did these geniuses do? They turned around and Mandated/extorted money from the young and healthy (and anyone else who had a little more cash) to subsidize those who cost more because they have medical problems. In case the light bulb still didn’t go off for these communists/socialists, here the clue: what the hell is the difference except for Who is the one being targeted and forced to pay- those insured for those who are not, or those who are young and healthy and being forced to pay MORE just to take care of others. If this isn’t communism, I don’t know what is? Here’s another clue: Leave me the hell alone as I will decide When, Where, or If I choose to get insurance. Medical coverage should be treated as any other service–you pay AFTER the service is completed, NOT before unless you want to. Government has No damn business in my healthcare choices. (Why is it that the Left is always screaming that very same thing when it applies to abortion being their “choice”, yet they are perfectly okay with foisting the govt. mandate on others for their healthcare choices?

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