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Democrat

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D)

Mary Landrieu Contact
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Email: n/a
DC Contact Information

Phone: 202-224-5824

Address: 703 HSOB, DC 20510

Mary Landrieu Committees
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Mary Landrieu Biography
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  • Elected: 1996, term expires 2014, 3rd term.
  • State: Louisiana
  • Born: Nov. 23, 1955, Arlington, VA
  • Home: New Orleans
  • Education:

    LA St. U., B.A. 1977

  • Political Career:

    LA House of Reps., 1980–88; LA treasurer, 1988–96.

  • Religion:

    Catholic

  • Family: Married (Frank Snellings); 2 children

Mary Landrieu, the state’s senior senator, is a Democrat who was first elected in 1996. She has Louisiana politics in her blood and has proven that she can withstand her Republican-dominated state’s rough-and-tumble politics as one of the Senate’s few remaining Southern Democrats. She took over the chairmanship of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in February 2014, hoping that her fierce advocacy of her state's oil and gas industry could help her prevail in what looked to be her most challenging re-election race. Read More

Mary Landrieu, the state’s senior senator, is a Democrat who was first elected in 1996. She has Louisiana politics in her blood and has proven that she can withstand her Republican-dominated state’s rough-and-tumble politics as one of the Senate’s few remaining Southern Democrats. She took over the chairmanship of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in February 2014, hoping that her fierce advocacy of her state's oil and gas industry could help her prevail in what looked to be her most challenging re-election race.

Landrieu (LAN-drew) grew up in New Orleans, the oldest of nine children of Moon Landrieu, the Democratic mayor of New Orleans from 1970 to 1978 and Housing and Urban Development secretary in the Carter administration. Her brother is Mitch Landrieu, Louisiana’s former lieutenant governor and now the mayor of New Orleans. She was educated at Ursuline Academy and Louisiana State University. In 1979, at age 23, she became the youngest woman ever elected to the Louisiana Legislature. In 1987, she was elected state treasurer. A sharp critic of Democratic Gov. Edwin Edwards, she was reelected in 1991. In 1995, she ran for governor and in the September primary finished third. Democrats lost the governor’s mansion that year to Republican Mike Foster.

Landrieu immediately started running for the Senate seat held by Democrat Bennett Johnston, who was retiring after 24 years in office. She had a well-known name and a moderate platform—she supported the proposed balanced budget amendment and capital gains tax cuts and promised to make education a top priority. Her competition was Attorney General Richard Ieyoub, also a Democrat, and Woody Jenkins, a 25-year state legislator and strong abortion opponent who had switched from the Democratic to the Republican party. Jenkins led the September primary with 26% to 22% for Landrieu and 20% for Ieyoub; former Ku Klux Klan member David Duke got 12%.

Going into the runoff, Jenkins looked like the favorite. But he had little money left, and Landrieu, who ultimately outspent him, ran ads attacking him as an extremist. The result was an exceedingly close election. The official results showed Landrieu ahead by 5,788 votes, 50.2% to 49.8% for Jenkins. He sued, claiming vote fraud, but withdrew the lawsuit and submitted his claim to the Senate. In October 1997, the Senate Rules Committee concluded that while “isolated instances” of voter fraud did occur, there was no evidence to prove a “widespread effort to illegally affect the outcome of this election” or that Landrieu was involved in the violation of election laws. Landrieu claimed the seat.

In the Senate, Landrieu is known for her independence and stubborness. "My critics would say I'm hardheaded," she told National Journal in 2014. "But I would say I'm tenacious and dogged and strong. It's all in the eye of the beholder." Colleagues have been known to call her "Hurricane Mary" for her occasional habit of holding up bills or nominations as a way of seeking to gain more money or favorable treatment for her state.

Landrieu’s voting record places her among the more conservative Democrats, particularly on energy and national security matters. She was among just 11 Senate Democrats in March 2012 to support construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, and she backs oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She cast the deciding vote in December 2007 against eliminating a tax deduction for oil companies and directing the money to alternative fuels, calling it “one-sided policymaking” that hurt an important Louisiana industry. She opposed a comprehensive energy bill in 2009, partly because it contained a renewable energy mandate that she and other Southern senators said their states would have difficulty meeting. She also took a skeptical view of proposed cap-and-trade legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and was one of six Democrats in June 2010 to support a failed GOP resolution attempting to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating the issue on its own. She voted for the Iraq war resolution in 2002 and for a 2007 measure giving U.S. spy agencies expanded power to eavesdrop on foreign suspects without a court order.

Landrieu also has taken a more conservative stand than other Democrats on some hot-button social issues. She voted against the 2007 immigration reform bill and was taking a wait-and-see attitude toward the issue in the early days of the 113th Congress (2013-14). Similarly, after the December 2012 school massacre in Newtown, Conn., prompted increased calls among Democrats to combat gun violence, she said she “won’t cross any line” that weakens gun owners’ rights. She was one of six Democrats in 2004 to vote against extending the ban on military-style assault weapons.

As the chairman of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee until 2014, Landrieu largely shunned formal hearings in favor of informal, roundtable sessions to provoke more candid discussions. She sought in 2012 to amend a small business tax bill to exempt some small-business stocks from capital gains taxes. It fell three votes short of the 60 needed to end a filibuster threatened against it. She was able in 2011 to extend by six years two research and technology transfer programs for small businesses.

When Democrat Max Baucus of Montana left the Senate to become U.S. ambassador to China, Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden took over for Baucus as chairman of the Finance Committee. That left the Energy and Natural Resources gavel to Landrieu. Her elevation to the post dismayed environmental groups, but thrilled the energy industry, which had chafed under the more liberal Wyden. She found a kindred spirit in Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, Energy's ranking Republican. In June, they got a bill to open Keystone through the committee on a 12-10 vote, with Landrieu joining other panel Republicans.

Prior to assuming the helm at Energy, Landrieu’s real clout came from chairing Appropriations’ Homeland Security Subcommittee, which she continues to lead and which gives her a say over federal disaster spending in Louisiana and other states. Following the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf in the spring of 2010, Landrieu pressed the Obama administration to put in place immediately a revenue-sharing plan directing more offshore royalty payments to coastal states -- an issue that remains dear to her. She later blasted House Republicans who demanded that disaster spending contain offsetting spending cuts, calling it a “dangerous and inappropriate” precedent. In protest of the Obama-imposed moratorium on drilling in the Gulf, she put a legislative “hold” for six weeks on the nomination of Jacob Lew to be director of Obama’s Office of Management and Budget. She was one of the cosponsors of the RESTORE Act in 2012 directing that 80% of any fines and penalties paid by BP go back into the Gulf Coast region for environmental and economic improvements. Earlier, as the ranking Democrat on the District of Columbia Appropriations Subcommittee, she insisted on restrictions on a program allowing D.C. parents to send their children to private schools on government vouchers.

Landrieu has a rocky relationship with her Senate colleague from Louisiana, Republican David Vitter. When Democratic Sen. John Breaux retired in 2004, and Vitter ran for his seat, Landrieu campaigned extensively around the state against Vitter, saying, “Don’t send me a puppet to work with, send me a partner.” On Election Night, she had an abrupt conversation with Vitter, who, against expectations, won the seat with 51% of the vote. She called to tell him that second-place finisher, Democrat Chris John, was not conceding, a decidedly ungracious move for a United States senator.

The following year, Hurricane Katrina forced the two to grudgingly work together, and it put the outspoken Landrieu in the national spotlight as advocate for her state. Three of her siblings lost their homes to Katrina. In response to the post-hurricane comment by President George W. Bush that nobody “anticipated the breach of the levees,” she said tartly, “Everybody anticipated the breach of the levees, Mr. President.” Six weeks after the catastrophe, she objected that Louisiana was being treated less sympathetically than had other states during emergencies. Vitter disagreed with her protest. But the criticism did not deter Landrieu. In April 2006, she said that she would block every presidential nomination until Bush agreed to $6 billion for repair of Louisiana levees. When the Senate approved that money and more a few weeks later, Landrieu backed off her general threat but vowed to block nominees at the Energy and Interior departments until there was agreement on using royalties from offshore oil and gas production to pay for coastal restoration and additional hurricane protection. She played a major role when that bill finally was enacted in 2006.

Landrieu also employed hardball negotiating tactics during the 2009-2010 health care debate and overhaul. She won a commitment of $300 million for Louisiana’s Medicaid program to help make up for a shrinking federal split with the state following Katrina. Republican critics dubbed the deal “the Louisiana Purchase,” and said it represented an example of secret, special-interest bargaining in the legislation. Landrieu was unrepentant, saying the arrangement was made openly and with Republican support. She forcefully offered to debate anyone who questioned her. “Being in office takes more than being smart or having a fancy resume,” she said on the Senate floor. “It takes guts.” She derided Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a potential 2016 presidential aspirant, in December 2012 for refusing to set up a statewide health insurance exchange, as required under the health care law, pointing out in a letter that “the law is here to stay” and that “simply refusing to engage in the process is not leadership.”

One of Landrieu’s pet causes is adoption services (her two children are adopted). She backs adoption tax credits and wants better tax breaks for those who adopt special needs or foster children. She was the lead cosponsor of the law providing for speedy citizenship for foreign-born children adopted by U.S. citizens. When it went into effect, it created the largest number of new U.S. citizens ever on a single day. She also got a bill into law in January 2013 to fix a loophole that prevented child welfare agencies from seeing the educational histories of foster children because of privacy regulations, a move she said would help foster children succeed in school.

Because of her small margin of victory in 1996, Landrieu was an obvious Republican target when she came up for reelection in 2002. Rep. John Cooksey, a Republican and a north Louisiana ophthalmologist, launched a challenge, but his candidacy fell apart after he said in a radio interview just one week after the September 11 attacks: “If I see someone comes in that’s got a diaper on his head and a fan belt wrapped around the diaper on his head, the guy needs to be pulled over.” The National Republican Senatorial Committee encouraged other Republicans to run and ultimately backed Elections Commissioner Suzanne Haik Terrell. State Rep. Tony Perkins, a sponsor of a school-prayer bill, also got into the contest.

In mid-October, Landrieu started running anti-Terrell ads, charging that taxes and spending went up in New Orleans when Terrell was on the City Council. Perkins attacked Landrieu for living in a “Washington mansion.” On November 5, Landrieu failed to secure a victory. She won 46% of the vote, to 27% for Terrell, 14% for Cooksey, and 10% for Perkins. In the runoff campaign, the candidates argued about tax cuts, personnel rules for the Department of Homeland Security, and privatizing government jobs. Then, a Democratic opposition researcher made a propitious find for Landrieu—an article in the Mexican center-left newspaper Reforma reporting that the Bush administration had agreed with the Mexican government to double the amount of sugar that could be imported from Mexico, bad news for a major domestic sugar-producing state like Louisiana. The Office of Special Trade Representative and the State Department denied that any such agreement had been made, but Landrieu trumpeted the claim in ads and promised to stop any such agreement. She met with trade and State Department officials in January 2003 and reported that she’d been assured there had not been a sugar deal with Mexico. The incident may have changed enough votes to give Landrieu her 52%-48% victory.

Going into the 2008 election season, Republicans hoped to again target Landrieu, but had difficulty finding a top-tier candidate. Rep. Richard Baker declined to run, as did Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne. Then in August 2007, state Treasurer John Kennedy, who had run third, with 15% of the vote, in the 2004 Senate race, switched from the Democratic to the Republican party and announced he would challenge Landrieu in November.

By that time, Landrieu had a significant cash advantage. Kennedy criticized her for voting against ending the moratorium on oil shale development. She called him a “confused politician” and said he’d mismanaged the treasurer’s office. She got endorsements from Republican local officials in St. Tammany and Jefferson parishes and from former Republican Gov. David Treen. Landrieu won 52%-46%. She ran strongly with African-Americans and independents. She won Orleans Parish with 84% of the vote; her work on recovery issues evidently more than offset the decline in the number of black voters there. She won 52% in metro Baton Rouge, and 52% in the rest of the state.

In October 2012, a poll found that Landrieu was Louisiana’s most popular statewide elected official, with her 62% approval rating surpassing even that of Jindal. But Landrieu was prepared for another tough reelection fight in 2014. By mid-2014, polls showed her with a lead over a field that included Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy. But she remained short of the 50-percent figure needed to avoid a runoff; in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup with Cassidy, polls showed the two were neck and neck. She maintained a lead in fundraising over Cassidy, hauling in $2.15 million between April and June to her opponent's $1.6 million, and reported more cash on hand.

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Mary Landrieu Election Results
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2008 General
Mary Landrieu (D)
Votes: 988,298
Percent: 52.11%
Spent: $11,304,952
John Kennedy
Votes: 867,177
Percent: 45.72%
Spent: $4,828,982
2008 Primary
Prior Winning Percentages
2002 (52%); 1996 (50%)
Mary Landrieu Votes and Bills
Back to top NJ Vote Ratings

National Journal’s rating system is an objective method of analyzing voting. The liberal score means that the lawmaker’s votes were more liberal than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The conservative score means his votes were more conservative than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The composite score is an average of a lawmaker’s six issue-based scores. See all NJ Voting

More Liberal
More Conservative
2013 2012 2011
Economic 55 (L) : 43 (C) 54 (L) : 45 (C) 55 (L) : 44 (C)
Social 53 (L) : 46 (C) 52 (L) : 45 (C) 52 (L) : - (C)
Foreign 65 (L) : 34 (C) 57 (L) : 40 (C) 52 (L) : 47 (C)
Composite 58.3 (L) : 41.7 (C) 55.5 (L) : 44.5 (C) 61.3 (L) : 38.7 (C)
Interest Group Ratings

The vote ratings by 10 special interest groups provide insight into a lawmaker’s general ideology and the degree to which he or she agrees with the group’s point of view. Two organizations provide just one combined rating for 2011 and 2012, the two sessions of the 112th Congress. They are the ACLU and the ITIC. About the interest groups.

20112012
FRC140
LCV8250
CFG1416
ITIC-100
NTU1516
20112012
COC64-
ACLU-75
ACU1016
ADA8575
AFSCME100-
Key Senate Votes

The key votes show how a member of Congress voted on the major bills of the year. N indicates a "no" vote; Y a "yes" vote. If a member voted "present" or was absent, the bill caption is not shown. For a complete description of the bills included in key votes, see the Almanac's Guide to Usage.

    • End fiscal cliff
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Block faith exemptions
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Approve gas pipeline
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Approve farm bill
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Let cyber bill proceed
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Block Gitmo transfers
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Raise debt limit
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Pass balanced budget amendment
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Stop EPA climate regulations
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Proceed to Cordray vote
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Require talking filibuster
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Limit Fannie/Freddie
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Regulate financial firms
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Pass tax cuts for some
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Legalize immigrants' kids
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Ratify New START
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Confirm Elena Kagan
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Stop EPA climate regs
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Repeal don't ask, tell
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Overturn Ledbetter
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Block release of TARP funds
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass $787 billion stimulus
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Repeal DC gun laws
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Confirm Sonia Sotomayor
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass health care bill
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Bar budget rules for climate bill
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass 2010 budget resolution
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Let judges adjust mortgages
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Allow FDA to regulate tobacco
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Protect gays from hate crimes
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Cut F-22 funds
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Label North Korea terrorist state
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Build Guantanamo replacement
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Allow federal funds for abortion
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Cap greenhouse gases
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2008
    • Bail out financial markets
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2008
    • Increase missile defense $
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Overhaul FISA
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Raise CAFE standards
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Expand SCHIP
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Make English official language
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Path to citizenship
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Fetus is unborn child
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Prosecute hate crimes
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Withdraw troops 3/08
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Iran guard is terrorist group
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
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The Almanac is a members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics. Comprehensive online profiles include biographical and political summaries of elected officials, campaign expenditures, voting records, interest-group ratings, and congressional staff look-ups. In-depth overviews of each state and house district are included as well, along with demographic data, analysis of voting trends, and political histories.
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