Cassidy defeats Landrieu in Louisiana Senate runoff

   < < Go Back
from USAToday,

Republicans completed their conquest of the Senate on Saturday when Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy easily defeated Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in a runoff election in Louisiana.

The Associated Press called the race for Cassidy after early returns showed him leading by a wide margin.

“This victory belongs to you,” Cassidy told his supporters in Baton Rouge. “The people of Louisiana voted for a government that serves us but does not tell us what to do.”

The result gives the GOP its ninth Senate-seat pickup in this year’s elections. Republicans will have 54 Senate seats next year, and Democrats will control 46.

Cassidy capitalized on Louisiana’s increasingly conservative tilt and Landrieu’s shared party affiliation with President Obama, who is widely disliked in Louisiana.

Landrieu thanked supporters at her election headquarters in New Orleans.

“The joy has been in the fight,” she said, recalling her battles to send federal money to Louisiana after the 2005 hurricanes and the 2010 BP oil spill. “It’s been a blessing. It’s been a fight worth waging.”

Landrieu, the only Democratic senator from the Deep South and the only remaining Democrat elected statewide in Louisiana, worked during her campaign to distance herself from Obama, noting that she had opposed the administration’s moratorium on deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico after the 2010 BP oil spill, and supported construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Cassidy, meanwhile, repeatedly told voters Landrieu has voted in line with Obama’s positions 97% of the time, and reminded them that she voted in 2010 for the Affordable Care Act, which is unpopular in Louisiana.

That strategy seemed to be effective. An average of polling data compiled by RealClearPolitics had Cassidy ahead leading by 20 points heading into the runoff.

The race was marked by negative attacks from each side. In the final days of the race, Landrieu accused Cassidy, a part-time teaching physician at Louisiana State University, of charging the school for hours that he never worked. Cassidy denied any wrongdoing.

Cassidy and his supporters attacked Landrieu for improperly spending taxpayer money on charter flights that included campaign stops. Landrieu apologized and said her campaign reimbursed the federal government for the flights.

Baton Rouge pollster Bernie Pinsonat said no polls had been conducted on the Senate race for some time because “you don’t spend money on polls when you know the outcome.”

“The bottom line is, it’s not about Cassidy,” Pinsonat said. “It’s about Landrieu and her support of Barack Obama. Barack Obama got 18% of the white vote in Louisiana when he won. Mary Landrieu got 18% of the white vote on Nov. 4.”

More From USAToday: