Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), who is vying for her vulnerable Senate seat this November, said that Louisianians realize that she holds the power in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as the chairwoman, therefore she will be re-elected. But, the power, as recently noted, does not do much for Landrieu if she cannot convince fellow Senate Democrats to get on-board.
In a rare interview with the Washington Post, Landrieu said that her “clout” as the chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee makes voters question why they would, as the Post put it, voters “trade the energy committee chairman for a rookie?”
In her first extensive national interview of the campaign, Landrieu told The Washington Post that she hopes voters conclude this: “Washington is broken, but Mary Landrieu’s record isn’t. Washington might not work together well, but Mary Landrieu’s been able to deliver.”
“I think they look at me and they say, ‘You know, she’s an exception,’ ” Landrieu added. “I think people see in me a fighter that never quits, never gives up, always puts the state first. May not agree with me on every one of my positions, but I think they think, ‘Gee, Louisiana does have this clout now. . . .Why would we walk away from that?’ ”
However, Landrieu’s tenure/record as the Senate Energy Committee Chairwoman has been largely unsuccessful thus far on major pieces of legislation, such as the most recent regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline.
The southern Democrat’s first major test as committee chairwoman turned out the be a flop when she could not get enough Senate Democrats on-board with a plan that would have progressed the Keystone XL Pipeline forward, without approval from President Obama, who is speculated to be in opposition to the project.
As Energy Chairwoman, Landrieu was somewhat expected to get enough Senate Democrat votes to back the energy initiative. But, as National Republican Senatorial Committee Press Secretary Brook Hougesen noted, Landrieu seems to have little influence over her fellow Senate Democrats.
“Mary Landrieu has been telling anyone who will listen how influential she is after being named Chairman of the Energy Committee, but it turns out that Landrieu isn’t influential at all,” said Hougesen. “The Keystone delay simply reinforces how ineffective, powerless and without influence Senators like Mark Begich, Mark Pryor, Mark Warner and Kay Hagan are. Democrats like Mary Landrieu who stand loyally by Harry Reid’s side are responsible for this failed Keystone outcome that hurts middle-class families and workers throughout the country.”
A day after the vote, Landrieu did not take credit for the failed Keystone Pipeline vote. Rather, she shifted the blame to Senate Republicans because she said they refused the compromise on the matter with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), a major opponent of the pipeline.
“My question to my Republican friends is: ‘Do you want to build the Keystone pipeline or do you want an issue to talk about’” heading into the November election. “I think they want an issue to talk about,” she said.
Leading senate opponent Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) told the Post that Landrieu’s inability to produce a Senate vote on the Keystone Pipeline is just a metaphor for her supposed “clout” as the Senate Energy Chairwoman.
But Cassidy questions her effectiveness on energy issues. “We can have a trophy: Senator Landrieu’s from Louisiana, and she’s chair of the energy committee,” he said. “But we can’t even get a vote on the Keystone pipeline?”
Cassidy said that Landrieu’s campaign focuses on her so-called power as Senate Energy chairwoman, but disregards her stances on major political issues that are unpopular in Louisiana, such as Obamacare.
“She’s got seniority, but she’s using it for the president, not for our people,” Cassidy, amedical doctor and opponent of the Affordable Care Act, said in an interview. “Good policy is good politics, and bad policy is bad politics — and I am on the right side of the policies that matter to the folks in our state.”
And though Landrieu claims in the Post interview that she “always puts the state first,” Cassidy and other Republicans surely disagree, pointing to her deciding vote for Obamacare, which she reportedly was allegedly awarded somewhere near $300 million in federal funds for the state.
Landrieu has not abandoned her support for the healthcare law, though it is widely unpopular, telling the Post Obamcare is a “good step forward” and that she is “working to improve it.”
Also, most recently, the Veterans Affairs scandal, which is reportedly responsible for the deaths of 40+ veterans, has been a subject that Landrieu has backed off of. She has not commented publicly on the issue yet, nor has she been recently vocal about the blockage of legislation that would authorize 27 Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC), including clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles La.
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) just sent a letter to President Obama’s Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, asking McDonough to get Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), asking that the president urge Sanders to stop blockage on the legislation.
In previous op-eds, Landrieu was a proponent on the issue which is keeping many Louisiana veterans from receiving proper care close to home. But, as previously reported, Landrieu at the moment has her hands tied up with a letter by Senate Democrats demanding that the Washington Redskins change their name on the basis that it is “racist.”
“From Jesse Owens to Jackie Robinson to Billie Jean King, athletes have often been a driving force for equality and diversity in our nation,” the letter says. “Now is the time for the NFL to act. The Washington, D.C., football team is on the wrong side of history. What message does it send to punish slurs against African Americans while endorsing slurs against Native Americans?”
Landrieu must receive at least 50 percent of the vote in the November midterm election in order to avoid a run-off in December. Cassidy is predicted by political insiders to be Landrieu’s fiercest competitor.