Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy will announce in a web video Wednesday that he plans to challenge Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., in 2014, according to a source close to his campaign.
Cassidy becomes the first Republican to enter the contest against Landrieu, who is near the top of her party's list of vulnerable incumbent senators up for reelection this cycle. Though Landrieu has been a top target for Republicans in both of her previous reelection bids, this will be the first time she'll face voters since voting in favor of several of President Obama's most controversial policies, particularly the 2010 health care law. Giving Republicans like Cassidy even more confidence: Landrieu has never topped 52 percent of the vote, and this time around she won't have a Democratic presidential candidate at the top of the ticket to boost her numbers, as she did in 2008.
Cassidy's entry into the race comes just a day after his campaign announced that he raised more than $500,000 in the first quarter of the year (which ran from January 1 to March 31). Landrieu's fundrasing numbers were not yet available, as reports are not due to the Federal Election Commission until April 15, but Cassidy's haul is a strong one for a House member who had yet to enter the Senate race and isn't well-known statewide.
The announcement is not unexpected. Cassidy has made several trips outside of Louisiana's Sixth District in the first three months of the year and has long been hoarding funds for a potential bid, ending 2012 with slightly more than $2 million in the bank, just $500,000 shy of Landrieu's cash on hand.
Cassidy might not be the only GOP candidate in the race. Rep. John Fleming is also considering a bid for the seat and has been ramping up his attacks of Landrieu recently, releasing six press releases in just the past two weeks criticizing her positions on everything from "Obamacare" to the Second Amendment.
Fleming lagged far behind Cassidy in fundraising last year, ending 2012 with less than $500,000 on hand. His campaign declined yesterday to release his first quarter totals to Hotline On Call.
Former Gov. Buddy Roemer's son, Chas Roemer, who is the president of one of the state's school boards, is also said to be considering running for the seat as a Republican.
UPDATE: Fleming responded to Cassidy's decision to enter the race in a statement this afternoon. "It's imperative that Republicans have a strong conservative candidate to run against Mary Landrieu. ... I haven't ruled anything out. The polling I've done has made it clear that a conservative Republican can defeat Mary Landrieu. So, whether it's Bill or I, the critical issue is that Louisianians have a distinct choice," he said.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly inserted a "sic" into Fleming's statement. He is grammatically correct in saying "whether it is Bill or I."