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James Carville: Four good reasons to watch Louisiana race this season

Greg Nash

Lately it seems like every time I look around, the political news I am seeing is five myths about blank, five reasons for this and five things we learned about that. God knows why there are never four or six — five seems to be the preferred number.

Given my contrarian instinct, I am going to give you four reasons why this Louisiana Senate race is the most interesting race in the upcoming 2014 cycle.

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1. The control of the United States Senate could be determined in Louisiana. It is entirely plausible that the runoff on Dec. 6 will decide which party will have the majority in the Senate — that is, six weeks after Election Day in November. That’s because we do everything different down here — we have an open primary, with the top two vote-getters advancing to face each other. You have counties, we have parishes, you have soup, we have gumbo, you pick your senator in November and we tend to pick ours in December. The current state of polling shows that while Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) leads and her polling numbers have improved, she has yet to reach the magical 50 percent mark. Conventional wisdom often dictates that the incumbent has to win in the first round to win the general election.

Let’s look back at Landrieu’s Senate race in 2002. After failing to achieve the necessary 50 percent needed to win in November, the freshman Democrat was forced into a runoff against Republican Suzanne Terrell. Despite what we are supposed to think, score one for Landrieu and zero for conventional wisdom.

2. Republicans could be faced with a Chris McDaniel type of situation. Although the news has yet to penetrate the Beltway, where it is believed that United States Congressman Bill Cassidy (R) will surely face Landrieu in the Louisiana runoff, a former Air Force colonel, Rob Maness, has started to stir the pot. Maness, who has the coveted endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), is using his “Contract with Louisiana” as the foundation for his platform. And although Maness is currently running in third, I know of no reason that Louisiana Republicans are any less prone to hard-right messaging than Mississippi Republicans were with McDaniel in his contentious race against the incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran.

3. The ramifications of the Senate election on the 2015 governor’s race are utterly breathtaking. Landrieu’s brother, Mitch Landrieu, is the, currently very popular, mayor of New Orleans — if the former lieutenant governor decides to run, he would be a formidable candidate. The political brains in this state all unanimously agree that the only Democrat who can defeat Sen. David Vitter (R) in his bid for the governor’s mansion in 2015 would be a Landrieu. As rabbis have been saying for 5,000 years, go figure. 

4. The current governor, Bobby Jindal (R), and Vitter, well ... I am trying to think of a delicate way to say this. Oh, what the hell: they hate each other. Add on top of that the fact that Jindal is running for president and not even being coy about it, and the fact that Vitter has already begun running for governor. To add another piece of intrigue to this race, the biggest backer of Cassidy’s Senate campaign is Vitter. And as if it that were not enough, enter “Duck Dynasty.” Jindal recently made a cameo on the TV show and Vitter took a head shot at him when he remarked that he was not running for office to be on “Duck Dynasty.” I suspect we will be hearing more from the Robertson family, as it appears the only thing they like more than duck hunting is giving their political opinion on any issue that comes their way.

It should be noted that the author of this piece is a financial contributor to and fundraiser for both Sen. Landrieu and Mayor Landrieu — and most of all, an admirer of each. The reader may want to take this into consideration when assessing the opinions of the above column. 

Carville is a political contributor for Fox News and ARISE News. He also serves as a professor at Tulane University in New Orleans, where he lives with his wife, Republican strategist Mary Matalin. His column will appear twice a month in The Hill.