It’s almost all over except the voting, plus whatever last-minute shenanigans this year’s candidates can muster before Tuesday. But before we shift our attention to the winners and losers at the polls, here’s a look back at some of the highs and lows, the best, worst and oddest moments from a hard-fought congressional primary season.
Best ad: It’s been months since Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s campaign unveiled a commercial with shipbuilding magnate and Louisiana GOP force Boysie Bollinger, but it still stands out. While Bollinger admits he disagrees with Landrieu on some issues, he highlights her Energy Committee chairmanship and record of appropriating money for local industries (including, of course, his) and concludes that “Louisiana can’t afford to lose Mary Landrieu.” The ad thoroughly sells Landrieu’s central argument for re-election despite the electorate’s sharp tilt away from her party and toward his. The question is whether other conservative voters are buying.
Worst ad: Where would I even begin?
Most misleading ad: Again, so many to choose from. Indeed, fact-checkers have been busy, dinging Democratic groups for mischaracterizing challenger U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy’s positions on veterans benefits and flood insurance, and hitting pro-GOP outfits for their take on the Affordable Care Act, which Landrieu supported. But the winner is the NRA’s hit piece against Landrieu, mostly because the pro-gun organization can’t even get its argument straight.
The ad features a terrifying home invasion involving a mother and young child, and concludes that “Mary Landrieu voted to take away your gun rights.” But did she? Fact-checkers rejected the NRA’s first justification, her vote for a failed background check, arguing that it would not have affected the woman in the ad. The group then pegged the ad to Landrieu’s vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. “To run an ad as scary as this one can only be described as fear mongering,” PolitiFact concluded. “We rate the claim Pants on Fire.”
Most memorable ad: The “Duck Dynasty” empire strikes again. After backing Vance McAllister last year, the Robertsons are now all in for their relative, Zach Dasher. Duck patriarch Phil Robertson’s pitch for his nephew is as straightforward as it comes: “Hey, Louisiana. Bibles and guns brought us here, and Bibles and guns will keep us here. Zach Dasher believes in both.”
Cleverest rebuttal: Bollinger and other Landrieu supporters sign off on their ads by saying “I’m with Mary.” The Cassidy campaign’s response? The candidate himself telling voters that “I’m with you.”
Biggest unforced error: Landrieu’s residency problem. While it’s disingenuous to suggest that her residence in Washington, D.C., means she’s lost touch with her home state — after all, she does work there — the senator could have avoided the whole mess by just buying a crash pad in New Orleans rather than staying with her parents when she comes to town.
Best prop: Cassidy’s white coat. Cassidy has built his campaign to unseat Landrieu almost entirely on her ties to President Barack Obama rather than his own biography, but if you’ve turned on a TV anytime lately, you definitely know he’s a doctor.
Second best: That keg from which Landrieu gamely helped an LSU fan drink. So much for losing her Louisiana roots.
One word I never need to hear again: Clout.
Two words I never need to hear again: Ninety-seven percent.
Most double-edged issue: The Keystone XL pipeline. Landrieu cites her support for the project as evidence of her independence from the national party and her advocacy for a big homegrown industry. Cassidy cites her inability to secure a vote as evidence that her seniority and influence have significant limits.
Best fight: We’ve got a three-way tie here. There’s the feud between McAllister and Gov. Bobby Jindal, who called on the congressman to resign after the video of his infamous office smooch surfaced. There’s the on-again, off-again Twitter battle between 6th District congressional candidates Garret Graves and Edwin Edwards (or possibly between Graves and the ex-governor’s wife, Trina). And then there’s fellow 6th District hopeful Lenar Whitney’s showdown with a Washington reporter who published an opinion piece calling her “the most frightening candidate I’ve met.”
LEAST CONVINCING EXCUSE: That Cassidy would appear in only two debates because they’re supposedly “highly scripted.” Come on, now. The reason risk-averse candidates avoid debates is to avoid unscripted developments.
Most popular figure on the campaign trail: Strangely enough, Edwards, not only with the national media but with a surprising number of starstruck, camera-phone-toting voters.
Least popular: A couple of folks who aren’t on the ballot but might as well be. There’s Obama, who figures prominently not just into Cassidy’s attacks on Landrieu but into the rhetoric of all those Republicans running in the 5th and 6th Congressional Districts. And there’s Jindal, who’s been traveling the country promoting GOP candidates in other states but who’s been essentially an invisible man in Louisiana’s races.