Thursday, 03 April 2014 15:14

Mary Landrieu and the Importance of Experience, Power in Government?

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landrieu-tea-partyThis fall, Mary Landrieu, who has served three terms as a US Senator, is up for election again. Recently, another experienced Democrat, four-term ex-Governor Edwin Edwards, announced that he’s running for Congress. Landrieu has faced a storm of criticism, particularly from Republicans, for her endorsement of Obamacare. Also, Landrieu has just assumed the powerful position of Chairperson of the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee, an important assignment for an energy-producing state such as Louisiana. This new assignment and the importance of seniority in office were the discussion topics in this section.


Sabludowsky: There's also another election this year, on the same date, actually. That's the US Senate race. The big question is whether or not Mary Landrieu is able to win the fourth term. When asked about Obamacare, Edwards called the statement that you can keep your own doctor and your policy "the lie of the decade." There is a column about this on I don't think Landrieu wanted to hear that, although Edwards was very supportive of Obamacare on other issues, such as pre-exisiting conditions and affordability. So I'm wondering whether or not Edwards is going to be positive or negative in the Landrieu campaign and vice versa.

Bridges: We can't say definitively. The argument in favor of Edwards helping Landrieu is that he is a Democrat. He is a guy who probably bring out voters, especially African-Americans, that no other Democrat on the ballot in the sixth congressional district could do. The counterargument is that there are people out there who do not like him and would be reminded of the reasons why they do not like him. That could also draw them to the polls to vote against Mary Landrieu.

Brown: I agree with Tyler. Edwards helps Landrieu by getting more people to the polls. Unless something very dramatic happens, there are runoffs in both these races. Landrieu cannot win this race in the first primary. Assuming they're both going to be in a runoff, it's harder to get people to the polls. I think they help each other in their effort to turn out a vote; an African-American vote, traditionally a Democratic vote, as Tyler stated. I don't think Edwards is going to affect Landrieu negatively. She's been well defined, and she's going to be pounded for months to come over Obamacare. It's interesting that Edwards says what a terrible lie it is. Landrieu keeps defending it, and she has got that wrapped around her neck. She's not going to be hurt by Edwards on the ballot. He's going to help her get out that traditional vote. I was looking at some numbers earlier about confidence in the country. What party do you have the most confidence in? If you go back the last twenty years, it's around 40-40 Democrat/Republican. The confidence in the Democrats solving problems under the leadership of Barack Obama was around 24%. When you're down that low, there are some independent voters who are going to say, "I don't care what she has done; we just got to have change in this country's direction." Landrieu carries that albatross around her neck of that feeling to a number of voters; Obamacare and the President's popularity. I don't think her chairmanship of the Energy Committee carries that much weight. She's going to have a lot of money to solve her money, and it's going to be a real barn burn. By the way, a little inside gossip: Mary had a fundraiser in New Orleans last night. The singer Carole King came. There were a hundred people paying $1,000 each. It was in a private home. Apparently, it went very well. So if you're a Carole King fan, she's locked unto Mary Landrieu.

Sabludowsky: You mentioned that the Democrats are down in the low 20s. The Republicans are down lower than that. Unless it's a different poll, the Republicans were in the teens.

Brown: This is members of Congress. I didn't see that in terms of "Do you have confidence in terms of who can lead the country?" When you're down to 24%, you can rise maybe maybe 15% above that. But getting to 50% can really affect other elections. It is a hard road, though. Landrieu has got the office. She's the issue. The issue is not going to be Bill Cassidy. You're going to go to that voting box and be either for or against Landrieu. In my opinion, that's what is going to be the decisive factor in the election.

Sabludowsky: Let's assume that Mary Landrieu loses. We will have a rookie in U.S. Senate. You give up that incredibly important position in terms of the Energy Committee. Let's assume that David Vitter decides that he's going to run for Governor and he wins. Now you have another rookie in his place. This is not in support of anything, but Louisiana could be in a situation where it has two rookies in the U.S. Senate. Personally, I have issues with all the candidates running for the Senate. However, there is something to the question of seniority. Landrieu spearheaded the insurance bill that the Republicans, the Democrats, and the business community praised; the FEMA insurance bill. Had she not had the seniority, what would have happened with that? The bill is not perfect, but without it, the premiums would have skyrocketed. I don't care if the candidate is Republican or Democrat or if it's the House or the Senate; seniority matters. It should matter.

Bridges: There are two separate questions. One is, does it matter for the state? I think anybody would that yes, it does matter, for the reasons you just pointed out. But the second question, do people care? Having that position will matter to political insiders, and it will help her raise money. But I don't get a sense that it matters for the ordinary voter.

Brown: Let me play the devil's advocate. I've been around for 25-30 years, watching all this seniority up in Washington, D.C. Take the Energy Committee. We had Sen. Bennett Johnston who was Chairman of the Energy Committee. We're still getting virtually nothing of the offshore oil money. Mitigation and damages are carrying on. I'm not sure what we've gained from all that. What would have happened if we didn't have any oil in this state? Back in 1950, all of the Southern state were about the same, even par. We had the oil, and what happened? Alabama and Georgia jumped way ahead of us; Tennessee did, Arkansas did. They are above us, but they had no oil and gas. I'm not beating up on the oil companies, but a lot of states without the oil and gas have jumped ahead of us. I haven't seen this seniority doing anything for us. Sure, maybe someone is appointed to a special job. But I'm not sure that convinces the average voter. I also think the voters like the shitkickers; people like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. They are out there stirring a lot of people up, not just Tea Party people. Those two guys are leading candidates for President of this country in the Republican Party. Voters are cynical, they are upset, they are mad, they don't like either party; if I were running now, I'd want to run as the challenger instead of the incumbent.

Sabludowsky: Some of the same people who are embracing Ted Cruz and Rand Paul were out there screaming, kicking, and crying about Bill Clinton's and Barack Obama's lack of experience. They've said that Obama was the least experienced person running for President.

Brown: Bill Clinton beat an incumbent President. They were the challengers.

Sabludowsky: I'm not talking about whether or not someone can win. We know that somebody who is telegenic and can get the crowd roused up can win, whether it's a national or local election. Is the state of the country served better by having experience? My opinion is, yes, it's served a lot better.

Brown: If I were U.S. Senator, I would be a chairman of a committee and have a big, plush office.

Sabludowsky: You were State Senator, you ran for Secretary of State, and you won Insurance Commissioner. You don't think that that prior experience was a benefit for you?

Brown: Sure, it was a benefit for me. But seniority is not going to make that much of a difference for the average voter.

Sabludowsky: I agree with that, but I'm talking about the actual impact on government. Would we rather have a bunch of rookies in the U.S. Senate and House, in the State Department, in the Administration? Is that what we want? Are we saying that experience doesn't make any difference?

Brown: We can debate this as long as you want. I wrote a column about a month ago, talking about what Louisiana has gotten back from the federal government. We have all our oil and gas taken away from us. Highway funds: for every dollar we send to Washington, we get 97 cents back. We get much less than the national average for our nursing homes. Level after level shows that we often have not gotten a fair shake. Who's been representing us up there? Take the whole flood insurance thing. First, why did those rates have to go up in the first place? Because our big, strong Congressional delegation let it slip right by them.

Sabludowsky: If we have a bunch of rookies running government, we're going to do better?

Brown: How do you define a rookie? A businessman or businesswoman who takes business practices with him or her and puts staff together? That doesn't bother me. We have some pretty sharp Congressmen, like Steve Scalise and Charles Boustany, who haven't been there that long. That's where talent comes in. I don't think it's going to have an effect on the election. When it comes to election time, Landrieu's experience is not going to be the turning factor.


Bayoubuzz Staff

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