Friday, December 27, 2013

It Sucks to Be Mary Landrieu

I wrote about Senator Landrieu almost two months ago: "Running Scared: Mary Landrieu Introduces 'Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise Act'."

Well, despite all the goo-goo ga-ga Democrat talk about how the party's congressional candidates will be proudly running on an ObamaCare platform next November, clearly Landrieu's not circling the same orbit as the Democrat Beltway psychos.

At LAT, "Louisiana's Mary Landrieu adopts risky strategy in bid to keep Senate seat":
METAIRIE, La. — In the months before Congress passed the president's healthcare law, Sen. Mary L. Landrieu faced a deluge: The office phones rang off the hook, the mail was heavy and a few restive constituents — well aware of the cameras — showed up at her events urging her to vote against it.

The three-term Louisiana Democrat was one of the final holdouts, but ultimately she backed the bill. And now in this red state — where President Obama lost by 18 percentage points in 2012 — her opponents intend to make her pay the price.

As her poll numbers have plunged during the bumpy Obamacare rollout, Landrieu has rushed to contain the damage. When about 90,000 health insurance plans were canceled in her state because they did not meet the new law's requirements, she swiftly introduced a legislative fix and bucked the White House by enlisting other Senate Democrats to support it before the president announced his own adjustment.

She has distanced herself from the program's failures, sometimes by flinging darts in Obama's direction: "What I've said to the president is: 'You told them that they could keep it,'" she said of the canceled insurance plans in a news clip featured in her defiant new campaign ad. "I'm fixing it … and I've urged the president to fix it."

Landrieu is one of a small group of vulnerable Senate Democrats with the bad luck to be running in hotly contested races under the substantial shadow of Obamacare. The central question for Landrieu is a variation on what faces all of those incumbents: whether her rebukes of the president, and her intensive focus on local issues like flood insurance, will be enough to maintain her edge in suburban areas like Metairie, where she has built a winning coalition in her previous races by attracting Republican votes.

Landrieu's strategy is not without risk. While distancing herself from the law she must also avoid alienating black voters, whose solid support has been a key element in each of her narrow Senate wins. Complicating matters is Louisiana's complex "jungle" election system: She will not face voters until November, when to avoid a runoff she must vanquish two Republican opponents by winning more than 50% of the vote. Her current poll numbers show her well below that threshold.

Interviews with voters here suggest that Landrieu's biggest challenge is rebuilding her brand as a populist, and one who is less partisan than most Democrats on Capitol Hill. The secret sauce in each of her Senate races, political operatives here say, is the discipline she has shown in running essentially a governor's race, rather a Senate race — casting herself as a fighter for Louisiana on local issues that often carry greater weight with her state's voters than Washington's ideological battles.

Standing with the president on the healthcare law shattered that image for voters like Todd Stremlau, a Metairie Republican who said he had voted for her in the past because he believed she was independent, strong on national defense and influential on Louisiana issues because of her family name. (Her father, Maurice Edwin "Moon" Landrieu, was mayor of New Orleans, a post now held by her brother Mitch.)

With the healthcare law, "she should have known what was coming," said Stremlau, who was grocery shopping with his young daughter in this swing territory near the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. "She made a big mistake by toeing the line on the Democratic side for the healthcare law."

Democrat Zack Braud, a drugstore manager from LaPlace who has also voted for Landrieu in the past, said she had not been vigilant enough in overseeing the dispersal of federal funds after Hurricane Katrina. "They got all kinds of money from the government to do the levees and they haven't been done," Braud said, citing one example.

"Average," he replied when asked to rate Landrieu's performance.
Keep reading.