At first glance that would seem to be the 2014 Mayor's race in New Orleans, but Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) appears to have no real opposition at this time and should coast to an easy re-election victory barring the political upset of the century. So the junkies now look much farther down the road to the 2014 race for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Mary Landrieu (D).
In each of her bids for the U.S. Senate, Mary Landrieu faced stiff opposition, and 2014 looked no different. Two years ago Governor Bobby Jindal (R) looked like a sure candidate for the Senate. His chance of winning the election was excellent. The governor was popular, and she was on the ropes having voted for Obama Care. Today the political world is much different. Although Louisiana is a very conservative and Republican state, Sen. Landrieu is the favorite in her bid for re-election even against a yet to be announced candidate.
Gov. Jindal clearly has his eyes focused on a much bigger prize, the race for President in 2016. The governor’s agenda is lock step with the positions and goals of national conservative groups whom he is heavily courting and whom he hopes will lead him to the White House. Whether this is a winning strategy remains to be seen. For Sen. Landrieu it is one less candidate to worry about.
So the race for the Senate will boil down to Sen. Landrieu and someone else. Republicans need to rally around one candidate something they have had trouble doing in the past. A field with multiple republican candidates will only hurt the party's chances of winning. And finding that one candidate is getting more difficult. Several members of Louisiana’s Republican Congressional Delegation have announced that they will not be running for the Senate. Which Republican runs remains an open question. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne (R) has recently announced that he is looking at the race. The Tea Party is rumored to be encouraging former Republican Congressman Jeff Landry to run. The state Republican Party will find a candidate, but look for Senator David Vitter (R) to have a big say in that decision.
The Senate race will be unusual in one major way. It will have a ripple effect on Louisiana's race for governor in 2015. Rumors say that Mayor Landrieu, Mary’s brother, is eyeing a run for Governor. If Mary Landrieu wins re-election, look for Mitch Landrieu to almost certainly take a shot at the Governor's Mansion. A Mary Landrieu victory in the Senate race will give a major boost to Mitch Landrieu’s aspirations. The race for governor will be fierce, costly, and divisive regardless of who enters the race. And with Mitch Landrieu in the race, Republicans will meet their match.
Louisiana’s current fiscal woes will play a significant role in the next governor’s race. Democrats will say budget cuts have been too big and hurt those who most need the help. Republicans will say differently. In either case higher education and health care in Louisiana will have taken big budget hits over the years and the wisdom and breadth of those cuts will be aired out on the political stage.
Republicans should have a real concern over the toll these cuts have taken on Governor Jindal, and the impact they might have on the republican candidate for governor. Faced with shrinking revenue Governor Jindal slashed the state budget much to the chagrin of many legislators, including some Republicans, educators, and health care providers. Those cuts have taken their toll on the governor whose poll numbers have dropped significantly. Republicans should have cause for concern that voters may take their opposition to the deep budget cuts out on the republican candidate for Governor. In any event the next governor faces big challenges in getting Louisiana's fiscal house in order.
November, 2014, is far away. October, 2015, is even further away. And a lot can happen between now and then. President Obama hopes to take back control of the Congress for his last two years in office and holding on to the Landrieu seat is an important part of his strategy. National democrats hope to win back a governorship that has been in the hands of Republicans long enough. Republicans see all of this as a prelude to the race for president in 2016. It never ends.