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Landrieu Leads, But…


Senator is favorite candidate, but many voters still undecided

Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who is seeking a fourth six-year term, has a double-digit lead over her main Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy. The election is November 4.

That’s the result of a poll released last week by Magellan Strategies, a GOP polling firm. The poll was commissioned by Lane Grisby, a Baton Rouge businessman who supports conservative candidates.

Landrieu came in as the choice of 39.3% of poll respondents, while Cassidy was favored by 26.3%. The two other GOP candidates, state Rep. Paul Hollis and retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness had 3.4% and 2.6% respectively.

The good news for Landrieu is that she leads all three of her Republican opponents combined. Cassidy, Hollis, and Maness captured 32.3% of the total vote.

And that result should have the Landrieu camp feeling pretty good after the infamous Koch brothers, through its Americans for Prosperity PAC, have spent $2.9 million on negative ads targeting Landrieu for her support of Obamacare so far this year.

The poll shows a large number of those surveyed are still undecided about the U.S. Senate race, with 28.4% not selecting any candidate. Obviously, these undecideds hold the key to victory for one of the candidates.

The bad news for Landrieu is that 52.9% of respondents say they disapprove of the job she is doing, with 41.8% saying they are pleased with her job performance.

But the Landrieu camp is looking to change that. The Senate Majority PAC has been running ads touting Landrieu’s powerful position in the Senate and also taking Cassidy to task, claiming he has close ties with the billionaire Koch brothers.

And it is reported that the Landrieu camp is ready to launch a $2.6 million advertising blitz to pump up the senator’s favorable rating, highlighting, no doubt, that she is now chair of the powerful Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, a key post for Louisiana.

It is still early, however, and a lot more money will be spent in the months ahead. And in Louisiana politics, anything can happen.


…About the governor’s race

The Louisiana governor’s race is not until 2015, but it is already on every politico’s radar. Magellan Strategies also polled the race in its recent survey.

While Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter has already declared he is running and the poll showed him with a 60% job approval rating, he did not come out as the clear leader in the race for governor.

The results of the survey show he is locked in a statistical dead-heat with Democratic New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, should he decide to run.

Here are the results of those polled:

U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R) – 27.6%.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) – 26.4%.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R) – 13.1%.

State Treasurer John Kennedy (R) – 8.5%.

State Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) – 4.6%

Undecided – 19.8%.

Vitter, Dardenne, and Edwards have already thrown their hats into the gubernatorial ring. Kennedy says he is thinking about it, and Landrieu has been mum.

Vitter does not have to give up his U.S. Senate seat to run because he is not up for re-election until 2016. Dardenne, Kennedy, and Edwards, should they run, will have to give up their current elected positions.

It’s a good bet that if Mitch’s sister, Mary, is re-elected to the U.S. Senate, the Louisiana Democratic Party will be camped on Mitch’s doorstep to convince him to run for governor.

On another question, when those polled were asked to give a favorable or unfavorable impression of some elected officials, here are the results:

U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R) – 55.8% favorable, 33.4% unfavorable.

State Treasurer John Kennedy (R) – 49.4% favorable, 7.1% unfavorable.

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) – 45% favorable, 46.7% unfavorable.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) – 41% favorable, 52.2% unfavorable.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R) – 40.6% favorable, 10.9% unfavorable.

U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) – 25.6% favorable, 11.9% unfavorable.

And finally, if the presidential election of 2016 were held today and the candidates were Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Bobby Jindal, the vote would be Jindal 45%, Clinton 40.5% and 16.6% undecided.


Supremes hit sour note

If you ask what’s wrong with politics these days, most people would likely have a one-word answer: Money. Too much of it.

So what does the U.S. Supreme Court do? The five conservative justices voted to open the door for unlimited spending by outside persons and groups in elections.

In the process, the decision on McCutcheon v. FEC sent spending limits passed by Congress to the trash bin. Prior to the decision, a wealthy donor was limited to a contribution cap of $123,200. Now it is in the millions.

Chief Justice John Roberts said about the decision and previous spending limits, “They intrude without justification on a citizen’s ability to express the most fundamental First Amendment activities.”

In dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer said the opinion will have the effect of creating “huge loopholes in the law, and that undermines, perhaps devastates, what remains of campaign finance reform.”

Daniel G. Newman, president and co-founder of MapLight, a nonpartisan research organization that tracks money’s influence on politics, said that the Supreme Court’s decision “puts American democracy in peril.”

He added, “The Supreme Court majority handed further control of our government to the super rich. It expanded the power of the few hundred Americans who will now spend millions of dollars paying for their favorite candidates to get elected, at the expense of everyone else.”

Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, a co-sponsor of a campaign finance law passed in 2002 that restricted corporate donations to campaigns and was largely struck down by the earlier Citizens United ruling, said in a written statement:

“While I have advocated for increasing the aggregate limits on individual contributions to candidates and party committees, I am concerned that this ruling may represent the latest step in an effort by a majority of the court to dismantle entirely the longstanding structure of campaign finance law erected to limit the undue influence of special interests on American politics.”


Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.


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