The Republican Party increased its majority in the US Senate to 54 seats as the final election of the nation’s midterms ended with a defeat for Senator Mary Landrieu of the Democratic Party.
Republican Bill Cassidy’s win in Louisiana’s runoff vote on Saturday also cost Democrats their last Senate seat in the US’ deep south.
Landrieu fought to make the election a referendum on her own performance rather than on US President Barack Obama.
However, she was unable to win a fourth term against the wave of gains for the Republican Party across Southern states and the strong unpopularity of the president.
Cassidy portrayed his candidacy as a way for voters to cast another ballot against Obama’s policies. That mirrored the winning campaign argument of Republicans who ousted Democratic incumbent senators in Arkansas and North Carolina.
Landrieu, 59, whose family has been a New Orleans political dynasty, was criticized for her votes for Obama’s healthcare overhaul and other policies supported by the president.
Cassidy repeatedly said the Democratic incumbent voted with Obama “97 percent of the time.”
Cassidy, 57, a doctor, spent little time on the campaign trail in the runoff, as his campaign sought to keep him from making any missteps, while Landrieu criss-crossed the state in appearances as she tried to hang onto her job.
However, Landrieu’s campaign was undermined by national Democrats’ near total abandonment of the senator. Of every US dollar spent by outside groups since Louisiana’s Senate race headed into its final month, US$0.97 were paid to help Cassidy. Landrieu was largely left to fend for herself.
The Democratic Party’s lackluster performance nationally in the Nov. 4 general elections undermined the central theme of Landrieu’s campaign — that her clout was invaluable to Louisiana. With Republicans to gain control of the Senate in the new year, Landrieu is set to lose her energy committee chairmanship.
A last-ditch attempt to show that she could break through congressional gridlock, and pass the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast, fell one vote short of the support she needed from her own party for it to pass.
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