Skip to comments.Hot race has cash and Bush - Louisiana's unique Senate runoff has look of a major campaign
Posted on 12/04/2002 2:05:10 AM PST by MeekOneGOP
Hot race has cash and Bush
Louisiana's unique Senate runoff has look of a major campaign
NEW ORLEANS - It won't decide control of the Senate, but Louisiana's overtime race between Sen. Mary Landrieu and challenger Suzanne Haik Terrell has many of the makings of a major contest: big infusions of cash, mudslinging and, on Tuesday, a visit from President Bush.
Ms. Terrell, the state elections commissioner, welcomed Mr. Bush's appearance at a $1.25 million fund-raiser near the French Quarter, hoping to follow other Republicans who rode the president's popularity to victory last month.
"I will not be a roadblock to your leadership," she told the president.
Democrats, meanwhile, are banking on Ms. Landrieu to ease the pain of last month's losses. But Ms. Landrieu, facing a tight race in a state that Mr. Bush carried by 8 percentage points in 2000, has taken to calling herself an independent just as likely to buck her own party as the Republicans.
"The real question in this race is not what national party we should represent, but do the people of Louisiana have a right to be represented by a senator who has been independent and effective?" she said.
Republicans hold 51 seats in the Senate, so they will control the chamber whether Ms. Terrell triumphs or not. But under the Senate's procedural rules, every vote counts, so Mr. Bush and the GOP want to extend their new majority.
Pollsters forecast a dead heat headed into Saturday's runoff, another unique feature of Louisiana's unique style of politics.
Most states hold early primaries in which the political parties select their general election candidates. The Bayou State holds an open primary on Election Day itself, with the top two finishers qualifying for a runoff if no one receives more than 50 percent.
Ms. Landrieu, an incumbent first elected in a close 1996 runoff and the daughter of former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu, finished well ahead of the field on Nov. 5 with 46 percent of the vote. Ms. Terrell won just 27 percent but had to contend with two other well-known Republicans.
Republicans hope a unified effort will carry Ms. Terrell to victory.
Mr. Bush told supporters Tuesday that Ms. Terrell would help him break past Senate deadlocks over energy, Medicare, judges and prescription drug assistance.
"I'm confident I have an ally in Senator Suzie Terrell," he said.
Ms. Landrieu is seeking to make an issue of the heavy Republican investment in Ms. Terrell's campaign. The incumbent said conservative groups have spent more than $10 million in ads distorting her record on taxes and abortion. And she called appearances by GOP "big guns" such as former President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney "overkill."
Ms. Landrieu has stressed that she backed Mr. Bush on his tax cut, the threat of force against Iraq, and the new Department of Homeland Security. She said she has also opposed Mr. Bush when necessary, arguing that his trade policy is hurting Louisiana sugar growers.
Ms. Terrell and her allies said Ms. Landrieu's claims of centrism are a sham, calling her too liberal for most Louisiana voters.
As for the big-name Republicans backing her campaign, Ms. Terrell said that if Ms. Landrieu "wants to bring Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy to Louisiana, that's fine by me."
The Landrieu-Terrell race has been strikingly personal.
During one of their televised debates, Ms. Terrell suggested that Ms. Landrieu had abandoned her Catholicism in her support of abortion rights. After the telecast, an angry Ms. Landrieu told her opponent, "This is your last campaign." Ms. Terrell called the comment a threat, but Landrieu supporters described it as more of a prophecy.
Both sides attribute the negative tone of the campaign to the millions dollars pouring in from conservative and liberal groups, the last time many of these organizations can act once the new campaign finance laws take effect next year. The state's other senator, Democrat John Breaux, said the race has turned into "the second Louisiana purchase."
Analysts are projecting a neck-and-neck runoff, making events such as the president's visit all the more important.
Asked about Mr. Bush, Ms. Landrieu said: "I know he represents his party - that's fine. But I represent the state of Louisiana."
Ms. Landrieu said her opponent would be merely a rubber-stamp for the president, an image Ms. Terrell sought to dispel during her introduction of Mr. Bush in New Orleans.
"I know you want a senator who will bend your ear about what's important to Louisiana," Ms. Terrell said.
I'm using this article as an opportunity to start a Louisiana Ping List.
Let me know if you want ON or OFF. Thanks!
Please let me know if you want ON or OFF my Louisiana ping list!. . .don't be shy.
A lady from Texas (with the Mighty Victory Strike Force)is arriving today to stay with me. She will be a volunteer with the RNC effort. We can use all the help we can get.
Mary Landrieu continually lies about her liberal record. She did this in a debate on CSpan a few days ago. When Suzie Terrell tried to call her to task for the lie, the moderator would not let her correct, saying that Mary had already answered that question.
Any prayers are help in this election are greatly appreciated.
Hi, Meekn: Please put me on at least until after the election! ~Thanks
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