U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, right. (American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Monday, December 30, 2013 1:43 PM
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s pursuit of a fourth six-year term will be the headline political campaign in Louisiana in 2014. Five of the state’s six U.S. representatives are also up for re-election on Nov. 4.
A number of local elections are scheduled during the year, and the Louisiana Legislature holds its regular session from March 10 to June 2.
The congressional campaigns will determine the effectiveness of Republicans who are considered ultra-conservative and tea party advocates. They want President Obama’s Affordable Care Act repealed, and they have no use for compromise on any issue. They are targeting some sitting congressmen who voted for a budget compromise earlier this month.
Voting for it were Reps. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, who represents this area; John Fleming, R-Minden, who represents the 4th Congressional District; Vance McAllister, R-Swartz, newly elected to the 5th District; and Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, the 6th District. Voting against it were U.S. Reps. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, the 1st District, and Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, the 2nd District.
Cassidy is Landrieu’s chief opponent, and eight persons are considered potential candidates to replace Cassidy. Republican Rob Maness is the third candidate in the Senate race, and he has tea party support. He is a retired Air Force colonel.
Area parishes will hold four elections during the year. Municipal elections are scheduled April 5 (the primary) and May 3 (the general election). Congressional races and parish and city contests are on tap for the Nov. 4 open primary and the general election on Dec. 6.
The Landrieu re-election campaign has been in high gear during the latter half of 2013, and there have been heavy doses of charges and counter-charges. Voters can expect the pace to pick up in the new year, with Landrieu’s continued and vocal support of Obamacare considered her major liability. However, it will be a plus for her among black voters, who have been her loyal supporters in her previous election campaigns.
A November survey by Southern Media and Opinion Research had Landrieu with a job approval rating of 46 percent. Only 41 percent of those surveyed said they supported her re-election. Cassidy polled 34 percent, and Maness had 10 percent. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat said the senator regularly polled well above a 50 percent job approval rating.
Bill Dore, a local businessman with financial resources, is supporting Landrieu and explained why in a recent American Press advertisement. Dore mentioned her work in helping pass the Restore Act after the BP oil spill, her efforts to get additional offshore oil revenue for Louisiana, the federal funds she got after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, her ability to protect Fort Polk from serious troop cuts and her Senate seniority.
Cassidy insists his record on those issues is also strong, and he attacks Landrieu’s support of President Obama.
“If you support the president 97 percent of the time — heck, you’ve got your gal,” he told a Lafayette town hall meeting, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Political observers agree Cassidy’s major drawback is his name recognition. However, Cassidy said at a recent American Press editorial board meeting he will rectify that shortcoming during his accelerated 2014 campaign.
The three-candidate field that could grow even larger pretty much guarantees there will be a runoff in the Senate race on Dec. 6. And even though conservative groups said they will challenge some the state’s U.S. House members, the odds still favor the incumbents.
Sulphur will hold its municipal primary on April 5, with the runoff (general election) scheduled for May 3.
The ballot will be crowded Nov. 4, unless a number of candidates are unopposed. The U.S. Senate and House races top the ballot, followed by contests for the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, judges and district attorney of the 14th Judicial District, members of the Calcasieu Parish School Board, and justices of the peace.
Municipal elections are scheduled in DeQuincy, Iowa and Westlake. The Ward 3-Lake Charles City Court will elect two judges and a city marshal. The Ward 4-Sulphur City Court will elect a judge and city marshal.
Conservatives in the legislature are focusing their session activities on the repeal of Common Core, a controversial education reform effort. They may also determine whether the Minimum Foundation Program that funds public education should be changed.
Many of those same conservatives were responsible for changing the state budgeting process that will get its first serious test during the new year.
Lawmakers and the Revenue Estimating Conference will each have a hand in determining how to spend a rare and unexpected $300 million budget surplus. There are almost as many ideas as there are legislators. And we can expect a flood of proposed bills.
Gov. Bobby Jindal has only two years left on his term, and the big unanswered question is how much stroke he will have in charting the state’s future course.
If you’re looking for political action, 2014 may be right up your alley.
Jim Beam, the retired editor of the American Press, has covered people and politics for more than five decades. Contact him at 494-4025 or firstname.lastname@example.org.