Last Modified: Thursday, February 13, 2014 8:26 AM
By Jim Beam / American Press
don’t agree, but U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., got a boost in her
re-election bid when she was named chairwoman of the powerful Senate
Energy and Natural Resources Committee. It may not be a big advantage,
but when you’re in a close race it could make the difference.
public opinion polls from both liberal and conservative survey groups
confirm this is a toss-up contest. The latest comes from Public Policy
Polling, described as a “leftleaning firm.”
Debnam, the president of PPP, said, “… The difficulties with the launch
of Obamacare seem to have really taken a toll on Mary Landrieu’s
Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, is Landrieu’s major challenger, but
there are two other announced Republican candidates. They are Rob Maness
of Madisonville and state Rep. Paul Hollis of Covington, and there
could still be others that would affect the polling numbers.
runoff between Landrieu and Cassidy would be 45-44 with 10 percent
undecided, according to the PPP poll. Back in August, Landrieu was
projected to pick up 50 percent in a runoff with Cassidy, a lead of 10
Reports in a January poll had Cassidy at 44 percent and Landrieu at 40
percent. Larry Sabato, a respected University of Virginia political
scientist, said the race last year “leans Democratic,” but now calls it a
of Landrieu agree her declining poll numbers reflect her support of the
president’s Affordable Care Act. The Americans for Prosperity group of
Virginia, which was founded by the billionaire and conservative Koch
Brothers, is spending millions on Landrieu attack ads.
Senate Majority Political Action Committee is countering that effort
with an advertising campaign blaming Cassidy for the government shutdown
last year. And Landrieu talks about “the possibility of unlimited, undisclosed secret money coming into this race, which makes it very difficult to fight against...”
addition to her support of Obamacare, Landrieu has another problem. CQ
(Congressional Quarterly), a provider of congressional news and
legislative tracking, reports the senator backed President Obama 97
percent of the time in 2013. Cassidy only supported Obama 8 percent of
the time, and that is a real plus for him in this state.
the two leading contenders are virtually neck-and-neck at this point,
the energy chairmanship comes into play. The Advocate Wednesday noted
that Louisiana contains just under 10 percent of all known U.S. oil
reserves, is the country’s third-largest producer of petroleum and
produces over one-quarter of the nation’s natural gas.
people of Southwest Louisiana know what that means in terms of an
economic boost to this area. The conversion of LNG plants to export
capacity means billions of investment dollars and thousands of new jobs.
Landrieu in a statement talked about what all of this means.
we find ourselves in the midst of an energy revolution that has the
potential to grow and expand the middle class in this century,” she
said. “When we tap into energy here at home, we produce high-paying jobs
right where we need them. These jobs pay the kind of wages and salaries
that allow families to buy homes, save for the future and build
know where Landrieu’s sympathies lie when environmentalists say they
are concerned about her strong support of the oil and gas industry over
the years. She calls for more oil and gas drilling and for three years
has been pushing for approval of the Keystone pipeline that would ship crude oil and byproducts from Canada to refineries in Port Arthur, Texas.
U.S. Sen. J. Bennett Johnston, a Democrat, was the last Louisiana
senator to chair or be the ranking member of the energy committee (1983
to 1997). He sees Landrieu’s new job as a “great deal” for her state.
and gas is No. 1 in Louisiana,” Johnston told The New York Times.
“Being chairman of the committee that has jurisdiction is just
fabulously important for the state.”
Republicans don’t buy anything coming from The Times or other
Democrats, and they have been quick to try and shoot down any talk about
Landrieu benefiting from her new chairmanship.
Villere, chairman of the state Republican Party, said the new job means
little because of Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid of
Nevada. He talked about Reid blocking any legislation benefiting oil and
“It doesn’t matter who chairs what committee, as long as Harry Reid is in charge, Louisiana will suffer,” Villere said.
so, but you can be sure many people in the oil and business are going
to put the interests of their companies and their stockholders first.
Mark Miller, a Republican and president of Merlin Oil and Gas in
Lafayette, is one of those who said he intends to vote for Landrieu.
“She (Landrieu) believes wholeheartedly in our industry, and that’s good for Louisiana,” Miller told The Times.
still early, and a lot can change between now and the congressional
elections on Nov. 4. However, anyone who discounts an advantage Landrieu
has by heading the energy committee had better put together some