Trying to combat the national undertones of Louisiana’s U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu is traveling the state this week on a sort of pork celebration tour, telling voters about the projects and aid she’s delivered to Louisiana.
The retail style of politicking has been Landrieu’s hallmark in office and in her campaign heading into Tuesday’s election. She talks of her clout in the Senate and her chairmanship of the Senate energy committee, but she also champions her work to bring money home.
“Pork is in the eye of the beholder. I think part of my job is to get as much taxpayer-funded money from Louisiana back to Louisiana,” she said at a debate this week. “I make no apologies about it.”
Landrieu, seeking a fourth term in office, was spending Thursday talking about regional investments in the south Louisiana city of Donaldsonville and attending a groundbreaking for a new computer center in Vidalia, on the Mississippi River in north Louisiana.
Earlier this week, she attended a groundbreaking at the Port of Terrebonne talking about federal port security grant money she secured and visited a floodgate in St. Mary Parish whose construction was funded with federal hurricane recovery money she supported.
By contrast, Landrieu’s main Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, describes Louisiana as part of the national partisan scene, framing the race as a referendum on President Barack Obama and Landrieu’s support of his policies. He doesn’t focus on grant money or federal aid during his speeches.
Among Cassidy’s events on Thursday was a Monroe speech to a homebuilders association, to blast the Obama administration’s plan to cut carbon dioxide pollution, which Cassidy says could cost Louisiana tens of thousands of lost jobs.
Tea party favorite Rob Maness, a Republican polling in a distant third place, has criticized Landrieu for her embrace of federal money, saying the spending needs to be more distinctly prioritized and decided with a plan to get the federal debt under control.
“This is not free money,” Maness said.
Louisiana’s only Democratic statewide elected official, Landrieu is targeted by Republicans nationally who are trying to gain six seats and retake control of the Senate. She has tried to distance herself from the president, saying she has worked with Republicans and Democrats and puts her focus on what’s best for Louisiana.
Cassidy and Maness say a vote for Landrieu would be like another vote for Obama.
Though the Landrieu campaign says the race could be won next week, polls indicate the Senate seat will be decided Dec. 6 in a head-to-head contest between Landrieu and Cassidy. The runoff election is set if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote.
Voters have shown stronger interest in this midterm congressional election than they did in 2010. More than 236,000 voters cast ballots early, nearly twice as many as four years ago.