Democrats are irked that Sen. Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuCassidy wins reelection in Louisiana Bottom line A decade of making a difference: Senate Caucus on Foster Youth MORE (D-La.) didn’t get any financial help from their Senate campaign arm in her runoff election.
The Louisiana senator faces almost certain defeat against Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) on Saturday and has been massively outspent on the airwaves.
“There’s a level of frustration that Sen. Landrieu is not getting the support she deserves,” one Democratic Senate aide told The Hill. “There should be more party support for her.”
When asked directly if the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee should have done more, Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyBiden to have audience with pope, attend G20 summit Biden taps former Indiana Sen. Donnelly as ambassador to Vatican Republicans may regret restricting reproductive rights MORE (D-Ind.), who campaigned with Landrieu in Louisiana, said it’s wrong to leave a colleague behind no matter the circumstances.
“I wish she had more air cover,” he said. “I was there because she’s my friend, but more importantly she’s done an extraordinary job for the people of Louisiana, and you don’t abandon your friends when times get tough.”
The DSCC announced early in the runoff that it was pulling the $2 million it had reserved for the overtime contest. Landrieu has fumed about how she’s “extremely disappointed” with that decision.
On Thursday, the Center for Public Integrity released an eye-popping report showing just how badly she could have used the cash. The report found that ads from groups attacking Landrieu account for about 13,900 of the 14,000 TV spots that have run since the Nov. 4 jungle primary.
And while the DSCC has been on the sidelines — not spending a dime, according to an ABC News analysis of Federal Election Commission records — the National Republican Senatorial Committee led the charge against Landrieu, dropping $1.3 million on the runoff race, according to the same analysis.
The first thing Democrats say when you ask them about the race is that they’ve personally done what they could to help Landrieu financially.
“Our colleagues have done a lot,” Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetDemocrats see Christmas goal slipping away Hickenlooper: Law preventing cannabis business banking 'a recipe for disaster' Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall MORE (D-Colo.), the outgoing head of the DSCC, told The Hill.
Indeed, The Hill spoke with Sens. Donnelly, Joe ManchinJoe ManchinManchin warns about inflation as Democrats pursue Biden spending bill Overnight Health Care — Biden mandate faces Dem resistance Exporting gas means higher monthly energy bills for American families MORE (D-W.Va.), Jack ReedJack ReedDemocrats seek to avoid internal disputes over Russia and China Overnight Defense & National Security — Quick vote on defense bill blocked again Rubio blocks quick votes on stalemated defense bill MORE (D-R.I.), and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William Nelson10 new astronaut candidates inaugurated at NASA NASA spacewalk delayed due to debris threat This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead MORE (D-Fla.), and all said they’d donated to her campaign or had their PACs cut her a check.
But those donations haven’t been nearly enough. FEC filings show that Cassidy has outraised Landrieu during the runoff period by about half a million, and going into the final week of the campaign had $1.3 million in the bank, compared to less than $800,000 for Landrieu.
Landrieu’s campaign has been swamped by ads from the Cassidy campaign, which has run nearly 5,000 TV ads against Landrieu’s 3,000, according to CPI.
The DSCC didn’t return a request for comment, but the Senate aide said it was likely that cold, strategic calculations — a committee left drained after losing seven seats last month and not wanting to pour more money into a likely unwinnable race — outweighed the principle of leaving a soldier on the battlefield.
In the run-up to Nov. 4, the DSCC and other liberal groups bet big, running about 19,000 TV ads in the state, according to CPI. An Associated Press analysis estimated the DSCC spent $4 million on the race before the jungle primary.
The return on investment didn’t show up on Election Day. Landrieu underperformed, taking only 43 percent in a field where Republicans split the vote. Cassidy came in at 42 percent, and Tea Party candidate Rob Maness at 14 percent.
Landrieu essentially faced a double-digit deficit in polling heading into the final month, and the Senate aide acknowledged it was “hard to see a scenario” where that could be turned around.
The Nov. 4 elections left many political watchers doubtful that Landrieu could survive another tough contest in the face of a Republican wave, and with the Senate majority no longer at stake, national Democrats opted to sit on their money.
Nelson told The Hill the DSCC didn’t have anything left to spend.
“The DSCC had no money, so it wasn’t that they pulled it,” he said.
The DSCC took out a $10 million loan in October, and spent big on races it ultimately lost on Election Day. They’ll release their latest numbers shortly.
But it’s also a question of how much of an impact additional money from the DSCC would have had on the race, because it wasn’t just them that abandoned Landrieu — liberal outside groups also stopped spending on her behalf, while conservative groups ramped up to support Cassidy.
Two super-PACs backed by the Koch brothers, as well as the National Rifle Association; joined the NRSC in running the bulk of the ads since Nov. 4. Landrieu’s biggest outside-spending group during the runoff has been the Humane Society, which accounted for more than half of the tiny $264,000 that has been spent on her behalf, according to the AP analysis.
Meanwhile, the Republican assault on the airwaves continues.
“The RNC continues to support Bill Cassidy in his December 6 runoff against unpopular Senator Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, while also preparing for the 2016 presidential election,” the Republican National Committee said in a statement.
Louisiana Democrats say they’ve gotten strong support from the Democratic National Committee, but that’s all been on the ground. The head of the DNC, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), has campaigned for Landrieu in Louisiana, as have her colleagues, Sens. Donnelly, Nelson, Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampVirginia loss lays bare Democrats' struggle with rural voters Washington's oldest contact sport: Lobbyists scrum to dilute or kill Democrats' tax bill Progressives prepare to launch counterattack in tax fight MORE (D-N.D.).
Democrats hope that’s enough, as Landrieu has survived tough runoff races before.
“Money doesn’t always win these races,” Manchin told The Hill. “Don’t ever count Mary out.”