Senate races

Republicans pounce on Landrieu’s Keystone defeat

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Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said Tuesday that the Senate’s failure to pass a bill authorizing the Keystone pipeline doesn’t undermine her reelection efforts.

But Republicans were quick to argue her primary argument for returning to the Senate has now been demolished and that the outcome could further boost Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.). 

{mosads}In a press conference immediately following the vote, Landrieu was asked if the bill’s failure blows a hole in her argument that Louisiana voters need to return her to the Senate because of her clout, experience, and seniority on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“Absolutely not,” the senator said. 

Landrieu said only someone with her experience would have recognized the brief window of opportunity that opened during the lame-duck session to pressure Democratic leadership to bring a vote on the Keystone bill to the Senate floor. 

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), both supporters of the pipeline and strong allies of Landrieu, flanked the Louisiana Democrat at the presser. They spoke as if Landrieu would be around to take up the bill again in the next Senate.

“I look forward to the next Congress when Mary Landrieu, Joe Manchin and a number of our other great Democratic senators step up to say yes [on the pipeline],” Heitkamp said. “It’s not the end of this issue.”

Manchin said Landrieu’s Keystone push was evidence that she’s “not afraid to take on the president and not afraid to take on the establishment.”

“Her coming back as ranking minority is important,” Manchin said of Landrieu’s spot on the Senate Energy committee. “I hope that happens for people of Louisiana.”

Still, many political observers viewed Landrieu’s push to pass Keystone as a last-gasp effort to reverse the momentum in her election runoff against Cassidy. With the bill falling short, Republicans now have more political ammunition to use against her ahead of the Dec. 6 run-off.

“Landrieu Clout Comes Up Empty On Keystone,” blared the subject line of an email from the Louisiana Republican Party.

“Senator Mary Landrieu’s failure to pass the Keystone XL Pipeline this evening is a perfect snapshot of her time as Chair of the Energy Committee – a failure,” said an email from the Cassidy campaign. “Conversely, Dr. Cassidy passed the Keystone pipeline out of the House last week with wide bi-partisan support. Ironically, while Senator Landrieu was failing on Keystone for the past 6 years, she was simultaneously campaigning on her supposed ‘clout.’”

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus piled on. 

“Keystone’s failure in the Democrat-led Senate is another reminder Mary Landrieu is only effective when it comes to delivering for President Obama and that she enables the gridlock voters rejected at the polls two weeks ago,” he said in a statement. “Louisianans can send another strong message to President Obama by firing Senator Landrieu and replacing her with the effective, pro-energy leadership of Bill Cassidy.” 

While the Keystone loss may sting, Landrieu’s campaign was already fighting an uphill battle.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pulled the $2 million it had committed to the Louisiana run-off, leaving Landrieu massively outgunned on the airwaves in the state.

Meanwhile, conservatives have rallied behind Cassidy. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin (R) have all turned out at unity rallies supporting Cassidy.

 Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) plans to attend the next unity rally, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) will fundraise on Cassidy’s behalf at a National Republican Senatorial Campaign event on Dec. 1.

Tags Bill Cassidy Heidi Heitkamp Joe Manchin Keystone XL Louisiana Senate Marco Rubio Mary Landrieu Mary Landrieu Rand Paul

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