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Tags: Landrieu | Louisiana | election | Senate

Cassidy Defeats Landrieu to Extend GOP Control of Senate

By    |   Saturday, 06 December 2014 07:50 PM EST

In the last race of the 2014 election cycle, Rep. Bill Cassidy easily trounced incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu on Saturday in a heated Louisiana runoff race that expanded Republican control of the Senate in January and made the longtime dominance of the Democratic Party in the south a distant memory.

"God Bless America," Cassidy told cheering supporters at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Baton Rouge. "We have a lot of work to do."

"This victory belongs to you," he said. Cassidy was surrounded by his wife and family.

"This victory happened because the people in Louisiana voted for a government that serves you and doesn't tell us what to do."

The Associated Press called the race for Cassidy, who had served three terms in the House, within a half-hour of the polls closing. He was ahead of the three-term Landrieu, 57 percent to 43 percent, with 98 percent of the votes counted, according to C-SPAN.

The runoff was required because neither candidate won 50 percent of the vote in the Nov. 4 election.

Cassidy, 57, is an associate professor of medicine at Louisiana State University.

He became the ninth Republican to capture a previously Democratic seat in this year's elections — pushing the GOP majority in the Senate to 54 seats.

"This was a referendum on the president," debate expert and pollster Matt Towery told Newsmax late Saturday. "The president's approval rating is low, even in Louisiana, and it was just inescapable for Landrieu.

"She could not escape the vortex that took everybody down," Towery said.

Incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was among many Republicans who praised Cassidy's victory.

"I want to congratulate Bill Cassidy in his runoff election victory and welcome him to the Senate Republican Conference in the 114th Congress," the Kentucky Republican said in a statement.

McConnell noted Cassidy's support last month of the $5.3 billion Keystone XL pipeline, which passed the House. The Kentucky Republican described the project as "shovel-ready" and "job-creating."

"I look forward to Sen.-elect Cassidy’s help when the new Republican majority passes the Keystone jobs bill early next year," he said.

Cassidy will replace Landrieu on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, "where he’ll be able to continue his work on developing North America's natural resources and jobs while helping to secure our nation’s energy independence," McConnell added.

She had chaired the panel.

Landrieu's defeat after 18 years in the Senate dealt a crushing blow to a New Orleans political dynasty. Her brother, Mitch, is the city's mayor — and the Bayou State now has no woman who has been elected to office statewide for the first time in 54 years.

More broadly, Cassidy's victory made Democratic dominance in a region spanning from Texas to North Carolina a distant memory.

In 1962, every senator and a huge majority of House members from the south was a Democrat, Politico reports. In January, Democrats will control 39 of 149 Southern congressional seats, fewer than at any time since Reconstruction.

Republicans also won each of the seven governor’s races in the South this year and increased their majorities in state legislatures across the region.

Two incumbent Democrats, in Arkansas and North Carolina, were among those to lose their Senate races last month. Three other Democrats lost Senate races in southern states.

"You have some Democrats, but in terms of white Democrats, you have very few," Towery told Newsmax. "That's a disappearing part of the landscape."

He likened this year's Republican onslaught in the region to those of Richard Nixon in 1968 with his "southern strategy" and Ronald Reagan's in 1980.

The results proved that more southern whites were bolting to the GOP, leaving the Democratic Party for African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities, Towery said.

"It’s been very shocking. This is a real shift that swings off President Obama — and it’s a reflection of the president."

Landrieu trailed in every poll during the runoff. A survey this week from WPA Research showed her down by 24 points. Cassidy led by more than 20 points in the RealClearPolitics average of polls in recent weeks.

She spent the final days of her campaign crisscrossing the state and attacking Cassidy for returning to Washington for House votes on Wednesday and Thursday, the Times-Picayune reports. He made few appearances during the runoff campaign.

But Cassidy was back in Louisiana on Friday, campaigning with Iowa Sen.-elect Joni Ernst. He and Landrieu had their last debate on Monday.

Throughout the runoff, he kept up his attacks on President Obama, tying Landrieu to her support of him and many of the White House's policies, especially Obamacare.

Cassidy had said that the Democrat had voted with Obama "97 percent of the time."

Landrieu campaigned on a referendum of her performance — not Obama's — and charged that national Democrats left her to fend for herself during the runoff. Louisiana lost some of its urgency after Republicans won back the Senate last month.

The National Democratic Senatorial Committee withdrew its financial support early on in the runoff, and Landrieu chastised the group for having "abandoned us."

"I just don't believe in leaving a soldier on the field, and that's what they did," she told CNN on Friday.

Of every dollar spent by outside groups since Louisiana's Senate race headed into its final month, 97 cents were paid to help Cassidy.

The Democrats' poor performance nationally last month undermined the central theme of Landrieu's campaign, that her clout was invaluable to Louisiana. Under a Republican-controlled Senate in January, Landrieu would lose her energy committee chairmanship.

Immediately after the November election, she pulled a failed attempt to show that she could break through congressional gridlock and worked to pass the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline.

The project's vote fell one short of what Landrieu needed from her own party to pass the legislation, dealing yet another blow to her campaign narrative. The pipeline would carry 800,000 barrels of crude a day from Canada's oil sands to Texas refineries.

She also attacked Cassidy on several fronts during the runoff: accusing him of being unfit for office, highlighting his awkward speaking style and painting him as taking repeated votes against Louisiana's interests.

In the final days, Landrieu slammed Cassidy's work at LSU, which operates a hospital system that serves low-income and uninsured people.

She charged that Cassidy appeared to have been paid a $20,000 taxpayer-funded annual salary for doing little or no work, and she suggested he falsified the few timesheets that LSU had produced for the congressman's work.

Cassidy dismissed the criticism as a desperate attempt to revive Landrieu's faltering campaign and said he did nothing wrong.

The race was the most expensive Senate election in Louisiana history, with $30 million spent by the candidates and millions more from national organizations.

Landrieu raised at least $5 million more than Cassidy, but she also spent at a heavier clip for the Nov. 4 primary, leaving her with fewer resources than her challenger ahead of Saturday.

"We may not have won tonight, but we have certainly won some extraordinary victories," Landrieu told supporters in New Orleans, citing her role in directing additional oil and gas royalties to Louisiana and securing federal aid after multiple hurricanes and the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill. "It's been a fight worth waging. Louisiana will always be worth fighting for."

The Associated Press and Reuters also contributed to this report.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy was expected to beat Sen. Mary Landrieu on Saturday in a runoff race that would expand the GOP majority in the Senate that will begin in January. Bayou State voters went to the polls after neither candidate won 50 percent of the vote in the Nov....
Landrieu, Louisiana, election, Senate
Saturday, 06 December 2014 07:50 PM
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