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Former Governor Edwin Edwards’s comeback bid also falls short
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
Cassidy took 56 percent of the vote to 44 percent for Landrieu. Her defeat means that Republicans have taken away four Southern Senate seats this year, en route to winning a 54-46 majority.
Meanwhile, former Democratic Governor Edwin Edwards, who served eight years in federal prison on corruption charges, failed in his bid to make a political comeback, losing a runoff for the state’s 6th District U.S. House seat.
Speaking to supporters at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Baton Rouge, Cassidy, 57, called the runoff result the “exclamation point” on the message voters sent to Washington in November.
“This victory happened because people in Louisiana voted for a government which serves us but does not tell us what to do,” he said. “We want our country to go in a conservative direction.”
Speaking to supporters at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, Landrieu, 59, who has been on the state’s political stage since 1979, thanked them for helping her fight “for the right things for Louisiana.”
“The people of our state have spoken, and while we were working and hoping and praying for a different outcome, I’m so proud that our campaign was open and accessible to voters,” she said.
Landrieu also defended her vote in favor of Obamacare, a central criticism of Cassidy’s campaign, saying it has given people security in knowing that they will have access to health care.
“This is something to be proud of, and I’m glad we fought for it,” she said.
Landrieu narrowly won the state’s “jungle” primary in November. But in the month since, polls consistently showed the Republican vote coalescing around Cassidy, a doctor who represents the Baton Rouge area in the U.S. House.
Another factor dragging down Landrieu’s fortunes was President Barack Obama’s anemic approval ratings in Pelican State, which are below 40 percent and more than 20 points under water.
The Landrieu family has been prominent in Louisiana Democratic politics since the 1960s. Mary Landrieu’s father, Moon, was mayor of New Orleans, a position her brother, Mitch, currently holds.
In the 6th District, Edwards was beaten badly by Republican Garret Graves, the former chairman of the state’s coastal protection authority, mustering just 38 percent to Graves’s 62 percent.
Edwards, 87, finished first in the “jungle” primary with 30 percent of the vote in a crowded field that included two fellow Democrats and eight Republicans. But the district, which takes in much of the southeastern part of the state including most of Baton Rouge, is strongly Republican, which made Graves a prohibitive favorite.
Still, even getting into the runoff was a political triumph for the colorful octogenarian, who starred in a television reality show in 2013 with his third wife, Trina, who is 51 years his junior.
Edwards served a record four terms as Louisiana’s governor between 1972 and 1996. In 1991, after being acquitted of federal corruption charges, he won a runoff against white supremacist David Duke. During that campaign, a popular bumper sticker urged Louisianians to “Vote For the Crook. It’s Important.”
In 2001, Edwards was convicted on 17 counts of bribery, extortion, fraud and racketeering stemming from his last terms as governor. He served eight years in prison.
As a convicted felon, Edwards is barred from seeking state office. But there is no prohibition on convicted felons seeking federal office.
GOP holding leads in Arkansas and West Virginia; Democrats holding tough in Georgia and Kentucky
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
WASHINGTON (CFP) — Two weeks out from election day, races for four southern U.S. Senate seats — two held by each party — are still too close to call, with control of the Senate hanging in the balance.
The latest polling shows races in North Carolina, Kentucky and Georgia are within the margin of error, while the race in Louisiana now seems certain to be heading toward a December runoff.
Depending on how these Southern races turn out, the question of which party will control the Senate could linger for more than a month before runoffs in Louisiana and possibly Georgia.
However, Republicans appear poised to pick up an open Democratic seat in West Virginia, and GOP U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton appears to have opened up a small lead over incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Pryor in Arkansas.
Democrats hold only eight out of 28 southern Senate seats. One of those seats, in West Virginia, is likely gone, and three others — in Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina — are in jeopardy.
The good news for Democrats is that two GOP-held seats, in Kentucky and Georgia, have turned out to be surprisingly competitive, despite the Republican tilt in both of those states.
Here are the current states of the southern Senate races:
Arkansas: The race between Cotton and Pryor has been neck-and-neck for the better part of a year, as outside groups poured tons of money into the Natural
State. But a Talk Business and Politics/Hendrix College poll released October 15 showed that Cotton has opened up an 8-point lead, the third media poll in a row that put the challenger ahead.
Louisiana: Recent polling shows Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu and her chief Republican rival, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, about even but both far from the 50 percent either would need to avoid a runoff in the state’s jungle primary, where all candidates from all parties run in the same race. That would set up a December 6 runoff between the two, a head-to-head match-up that’s still too close to call.
West Virginia: This race is to pick a successor to retiring Democratic U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, and it looks increasingly like a GOP pickup, with U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito opening up a significant lead over Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. A CBS News/New York Times/YouGov poll in early October had Capito ahead by 23 points.
Kentucky: The Senate’s top Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is in a pitched battle with Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Recent polls have shown the race as either too close to call or with McConnell slightly in the lead.
Georgia: This race, to pick a successor to retiring Republican U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, is a contest between two political newcomers, Republican David Perdue and Democrat Michelle Nunn. Despite Georgia’ GOP tilt, Nunn has run a strong race, and the latest polling shows the contest within the margin of error. An interesting twist in Georgia is that if neither Perdue nor Nunn wins a majority, they would meet in a runoff December 10 — a possibility if the race is close and votes are syphoned off by third-party candidates.
Control of the Senate could be in limbo until December if a runoff is needed to settle the race
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
NEW ORLEANS (CFP) — The U.S. Senate race in Louisiana appears headed for a runoff that’s still to close to call, which could leave the balance of power in the Senate up in the air until December, according to a new poll.
The CNN/ORC International poll released September 28 shows incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu at 43 percent among likely voters, ahead of GOP U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy at 40 percent and Rob Maness, a Republican with Tea Party backing, at 9 percent.
In Louisiana, all candidates, regardless of party, run in the November “jungle” primary. If no one reaches a majority, the top two vote getters meet in a runoff December 6.
With a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent, the poll indicates that a runoff between Landrieu and Cassidy is likely.
In a hypothetical match up in the runoff, Cassidy was the choice of 50 percent to 47 percent for Landrieu, which was within the poll’s margin of error. However, among the larger pool of registered voters, Landrieu led Cassidy 51 percent to 45 percent — an indication that increasing voter turnout may be key to Landrieu’s survival.
The Louisiana race is one of eight contested Senate races across the South that are likely to decide which party controls the Senate.
A runoff would be nothing new for Landrieu. She faced a runoffs in 1996 and 2002 and survived both times.
The poll also found that just 37 percent of likely voters in Louisiana approved of President Obama’s job performance, compared to 61 percent who disapproved.
Kelly McAllister says her husband, U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister, “owns up to his mistakes”
MONROE, Louisiana (CFP) — The wife of embattled U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister is appearing in a new television as the Louisiana Republican battles to keep his seat after an embarrassing video surfaced last April showing him kissing a female staffer.
“A man’s character is based on how many times he gets back up and stands again,” Kelly McAllister says in the ad. “I’m blessed to have a husband who owns up to his mistakes, never gives up, always fighting for the good people of Louisiana.”
McAllister himself opens the video, saying that “life is filled with ups and downs.”
McAllister, 40, a Christian conservative and father of five, was elected to the 5th District seat in a special election last November in his first bid for political office. After the video surfaced, he announced he would not seek re-election, but he later changed his mind and filed to run again.
To go back to Washington, he will have to defeat five Republicans and a Democrat who have filed to run against him, including Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, the Democrat, and former Republican U.S. Rep. Clyde Holloway, a member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission.
The crowded field could help McAllister because of Louisiana’s unique jungle primary system. All seven candidates run in the same race in November, with the top two vote-getters facing each other in a runoff in December if nobody wins a majority.
Click here to watch the commercial.
McAllister’s exit comes after video surfaced showing him kissing a female staffer outside his district office
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitcs.com editor
MONROE, Louisiana (CFP) — Three weeks after video surfaced showing him passionately kissing a female staffer, embattled Republican U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister has announced that he won’t seek re-election this fall.
However, despite calls from leading Louisiana Republicans and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor for his resignation, McAllister is vowing to serve out the remainder of his term.
“The people of the Fifth District of Louisiana need and deserve a voice in Washington,” McAllister said in a statement released April 28. “Today, I am announcing that I will not seek re-election, but I will continue to be that voice and will uphold the office to which I was elected to serve for the remainder of my term.”
“As I’ve said before, there’s no doubt I’ve made a mistake. I’ve failed those I care most about and let down the people who elected me to represent them. I take full responsibility for this personal failure, and I’m truly sorry for what I’ve done.”
The decision to hang on to his office ran into immediate opposition from Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House, who met with McAllister and told him he needed to resign, Politico reported.
McAllister, 40, a Christian conservative and married father of five, was elected to the vacant 5th District seat last November in his first bid for political office.