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Muddling through recent shakeups in the Louisiana Senate race

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) shook up the Louisiana Senate race by replacing her campaign manager with less than one month until the election. Then, the candidates held a debate that Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) did not attend. There will be two more debates that Cassidy plans to attend, but he took the opportunity to campaign rather than spar with his opponents this week. On top of all of this, no candidate is polling high enough to carry the 50 percent of the vote needed to win on Nov. 4.

The last minute quirks of the Louisiana Senate race appear chaotic.

{mosads}When examined closer, however, changing the makeup of a campaign or picking and choosing which events a candidate will attend is nothing out of the ordinary – especially in a race this close.

Members of Landrieu’s campaign see the change in leadership as beneficial. The new campaign manager, Ryan Berni, ran the mayoral reelection campaign for Landrieu’s brother Mitch in New Orleans. Other advisors jumping on board are also former Landrieu staffers. Even though the move to make changes may be seen as a last ditch effort from those on the other side of the aisle, the strategy of the Landrieu campaign will not differ drastically going forward. Even if they wanted it to, it couldn’t. The election is in less than four weeks. Plus, a fresh set of eyes may be needed if Landrieu must continue the campaign into December.

As for Cassidy being absent for the debate between Landrieu and Tea Party favorite Rob Maness, Thursday’s debate likely did not change the tide of the election.

Cassidy has said that he plans to attend a debate next week and one just prior to Nov. 4. The Republican frontrunner felt his time was best spent connecting with the public in northern Louisiana this week. The move might also be a calculated attempt to not make any major public missteps this close to the election.

According to recent polls, Cassidy leads Landrieu from anywhere between three to five points. Maness is taking around 9 percent of the vote, while the two frontrunners are jockeying for position in the 40 to 50 percent range. No candidate appears able to carry enough voters to win on Nov. 4 however. The reality of a potential runoff may be another reason for Cassidy focusing more on the campaign than a debate. If no candidate garners the 50 percent needed on Nov. 4, Landrieu and Cassidy will be right back on the campaign trail until the December runoff.

The two-candidate debate highlighted some of the biggest issues for Louisiana going into Nov. 4 – jobs, immigration, and health care.

This week is an indication that things are going to continue ramping up before any of it calms down in Louisiana. Despite the week’s shakeups, both the Landrieu and Cassidy campaign remain steadfast in their directions. Landrieu is placing an emphasis on her ability to complete projects for the state and her role as Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairwoman. Cassidy meanwhile, is traveling the state in an effort to connect with voters and increase his chances during a potential runoff. Despite a strong backing in his district, which contains the state capitol of Baton Rouge, Cassidy is working to set himself apart from Landrieu while also appealing to conservatives currently in favor of Maness.

After the second debate, there will likely be much more to talk about in regards to the candidates’ plans for the state. With Cassidy present, he will be able to weigh in on Landrieu’s support of both President Obama and the Affordable Health Care Act. Landrieu will likely take the opportunity to push both Cassidy and Maness again on issues such as the federal minimum wage and immigration.

All eyes are on the polls in the coming weeks. They will indicate whether or not the recent shakeups in Louisiana are enough to push either candidate over the necessary 50 percent mark. If not, plan on more and more calculated campaign strategy all the way through November.

Floyd is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Master of Public Administration program and the author of PANIC: One Man’s Struggle with Anxiety.

Tags Mary Landrieu

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