Louisiana's Sen. Mary Landrieu, running for re-election as a Democrat in a red state where President Barack Obama and his policies are unpopular, is emphasizing the political clout she has to "deliver for Louisiana," The Washington Post reported.
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In particular, she stresses the clout that comes with being the new chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and what this can do to ensure that the Keystone XL oil pipeline becomes a reality.
It would be to Landrieu's disadvantage if her re-election bid were a referendum on the president.
She told a local audience that if voters threw her out of office they'd lose the influence of the energy committee gavel she wields. "It's a gavel we don't often get. I've got it now," she said.
Landrieu said that even if voters don't agree with her all the time — alluding to her support for Obamacare — they should not abandon someone who puts "the state first" and can deliver.
The leading Republican contender, Rep. Bill Cassidy, acknowledges that Landrieu has seniority, but argues that she is "using it for the president, not for our people. Good policy is good politics, and bad policy is bad politics – and I am on the right side of the policies that matter to the folks in our state," he said, according to the Post.
There are no party primaries in Louisiana. Unless a candidate draws at least 51 percent of the votes in November, there will be a runoff election in December.
Louisiana is one of the pivotal races that will influence whether Democrats retain control of the U.S. Senate. The other key races, where incumbent Democrats face formidable GOP challengers, are in North Carolina, Arkansas, and Alaska.
Landrieu is counting on Republicans like Mark Miller, who runs an energy company.
"She's gone to bat for us for years. It would leave a huge vacuum if we had to start over again," Miller told the Post.
Cassidy points out that with all Landrieu's clout she hasn't been able to deliver a vote on the Keystone pipeline.
One Landrieu campaign ad features veteran Republican activist Boysie Bollinger. His message, as he walks through his shipyard, is that "Louisiana can't afford to lose Mary Landrieu."
Republican analysts question whether emphasizing her Washington insider credentials is a wise strategy when voters want change, the Post reported.
GOP state Sen. Gerald Long predicts "Mary won't lose this race. But the president will lose it for her."
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