Obama Hurting Landrieu Brother and Sister Races in Louisiana

Image: Obama Hurting Landrieu Brother and Sister Races in Louisiana President Barack Obama talks to Sen. Mary Landrieu and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Friday, 31 Jan 2014 12:27 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Embattled Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu and her beleaguered brother, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, are trying to help each other in their tough re-election campaigns — but are being hurt by having President Barack Obama in their corner.

The Democratic Landrieu dynasty is under siege in a state where the GOP has gained such a strong foothold that the senator's seat is thought to be highly vulnerable this year in a close race with Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy, according to The New York Times.

The GOP has launched a series of negative ads attacking the senator for casting the deciding vote to pass the Affordable Healthcare Act, Obama's signature domestic policy — a vote often called the Louisiana Purchase.

And Mayor Landrieu also faces a difficult time Saturday in a Democratic mayoral primary against former civil district court judge Michael Bagneris, who is black and blames his rival for having "absolutely ignored" blacks while New Orleans rebuilds its status after Hurricane Katrina as a destination city and tourist mecca.

The mayor has received an endorsement from Obama, and claims he's developed "a very, very close relationship" with the president. But Bagneris has speculated that the endorsement was purely political posturing to help save his sister from being ousted in November by associating Obama's name with the Landrieu clan.

On the other hand, the Times says the national GOP power base has been stirring up the mayoral race as a means to damage the Landrieu family name among black voters.

Moon Landrieu, the 83-year-old patriarch of the political dynasty, has seen it all before, but now his children are involved and he's feeling the strain of the partisan in-fighting.

"We have been in this business for a long time; you try to insulate yourself a little bit from some of the negative aspects," the cigar-chomping father of nine told the Times. "But yes, there is always a sense of anxiety about it. You can't be a parent without being nervous. I have at times said, 'Mary, come on home, girl. There's another life out here.'"

Sen. Landrieu has denied having anything to do with getting the presidential seal of approval for her sibling. She's too busy dealing with her own problems, including a massive infusion of GOP cash in her race from the conservative Koch brothers as well as an alarming plunge in her approval ratings following the botched rollout of Obamacare's HealthCare.gov website.

The senator has attempted to distance herself from Obama's healthcare policy by introducing her own bill in Congress calling for Americans to keep their existing insurance coverage after thousands of people in her state were being dropped by their insurance companies.

The Landrieu dynasty began in 1970 when Moon Landrieu received enough votes from black and white voters alike to become mayor of New Orleans. In 2010, his son Mitch became the first white mayor since his father's tenure.

Although Mary also followed in her father's political footsteps, she was beaten in a Louisiana gubernatorial race in 1995. But she bounced back the next year by becoming a senator and had held the position ever since.

Now she's keeping one eye on her little brother's race while concentrating on her own.

However, the senator recently attended a "Women for Mitch" fundraiser for the mayor in downtown New Orleans, and thanked the 800 people for helping her sibling  and "helping me, eventually, after we get over this one.'"

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