Tags: Tea Party | Louisiana | midterms | Senate | GOP | Cassidy

GOP's Cassidy Confident of La. Senate Win, Perhaps in Runoff

By Monday, 27 October 2014 06:44 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Were tea party favorite and retired U.S. Army Col. Robert Maness not in Louisiana's U.S. Senate race eight days from today, evidence is strong that fellow conservative Republican and Rep. Bill Cassidy would defeat Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu outright — thus becoming the first candidate to unseat an incumbent senator from the Pelican State since 1932 — when Rep. John Overton ousted Sen. and fellow Democrat Edwin Broussard.

But with Maness in the race and backed by groups such as the Tea Party Patriots and the Senate Conservatives Fund, signs are strong that the fate of three-termer Landrieu will be postponed until a sure-to-be-watched runoff with Cassidy on Dec. 6.

Under Louisiana's unique "jungle" primary law, all candidates regardless of party appear on the same ballot in November. If none wins a majority, then the top two vote-getters (again, regardless of party) meet in a runoff the following month.

According to a just completed CBS/New York Times/YouGov Poll, Landrieu leads Cassidy among likely voters statewide by a margin of 37 percent to 32 percent, with Maness at 6 percent. These figures were similar to those in a Rasmussen survey conducted at the same time, with Landrieu at 41 percent, Cassidy 38 percent, and Maness at 14 percent.

But when the same polls pit the two top vote-getters against each other in a runoff, CBS/New York Times/YouGov shows Cassidy defeating Landrieu by 46 percent to 42 percent, and Rasmussen shows him beating Landrieu 52 percent to 43 percent.

"So I don't, for the life of me, have a clue what the problem is with [Maness] and the folks backing him have with me as a conservative!" Cassidy told Newsmax between campaign stops over the weekend.

"Look, I'm strongly endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee, the National Rifle Association, [Texas Gov.] Rick Perry, [former GOP presidential hopeful] Herman Cain, and Dr. Ben Carson," he said. "There are few with more impeccable conservative credentials than this group."

Rather than criticize Maness and his backers, Cassidy — a physician by trade — focused his fire on Landrieu, who, he quickly reminded us, "cast the deciding vote for Obamacare and votes with President Obama 97 percent of the time."

"She said she would vote for [Obamacare] again tomorrow," said the GOP hopeful. "I say I would vote to repeal it tomorrow for the 50th time."

As to whether the issue of the controversial healthcare plan still has "shelf life," physician-candidate Cassidy fired back: "Absolutely, because it's always in the news here and it's pounding people hard. When 400 custodial and food workers in Lincoln Parish are forced to work part-time instead of full-time because of the cost of Obamacare, something's wrong. When a pastor in Grant Parish finds that Obamacare has raised the cost of health insurance for his church's employees 2½ times, something's wrong."

Landrieu's insistence that she would again vote for Obamacare, charges Cassidy, "shows that she doesn't care about those workers in Lincoln Parish, the pastor in Grant Parish, or anyone who's been hit hard by a government-run plan that's just wrong, wrong, wrong."

Describing himself as "a conservative who cares," Cassidy vows to help craft and enact a replacement for Obamacare that is "market-oriented, has no mandates, and most importantly, is based on the idea that 'the patient knows best.'"

Has the issue of Ebola emerged in the twilight days of the campaign?

"Yes, in the sense that it shows the president's incompetency clearly," Cassidy told us. "He appointed a political hack [Ron Klain] to be the Ebola czar. You wouldn't name a political hack instead of a general to oversee operations in the Middle East, would you?"

By supporting Obama 97 percent of the time, he says, "[Landrieu] shows she no longer represents Louisianans. And she said as much when she told The Hill what a wonderful place to live Capitol Hill in Washington is. She's not one of us."

As to the reports that several prominent state Republicans are lining up with Landrieu because of her recent assumption of the chairmanship of the Senate Energy Committee, Cassidy scoffs. Noting a recent TV spot in which former state GOP Chairman Donald "Boysie" Bollinger endorses the Democratic incumbent, the GOP challenger told us "his family's shipyard got a $435 million contract with the U.S. Coast Guard a week after he cut those ads.

"And I plan to represent a lot more than Boysie Bollinger and his shipyard when I'm senator."

Any interview with Cassidy almost always ends up with talk of how Landrieu has always been targeted for extinction by Republicans and always wins — the last two times in runoffs.

Given this record and his state's 82-year history of re-electing incumbent senators, can he win?

"What can I say?" he told us. "Times are different and the issues are powerful. I could win on Nov. 4. If I don't, I'll win Dec. 6."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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Were tea party favorite Robert Maness not in Louisiana's U.S. Senate race eight days from now, evidence is strong that fellow conservative Republican and Rep. Bill Cassidy would defeat Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu outright — a feat last seen in the Pelican State in 1932.
Louisiana, midterms, Senate, GOP, Cassidy, Landrieu
Monday, 27 October 2014 06:44 AM
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