Could Tom Steyer’s Anti-Keystone Campaign Help Mary Landrieu? She Thinks So.

Senator Mary Landrieu (C), D-LA, speaks during a a press conference on the Keystone XL pipeline in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on February 4, 2014 in Washington, DC. Looking on are (from left): Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV, and Canada's Ambassador to the US Gary Doer. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
National Journal
Amy Harder
Feb. 17, 2014, 3:05 p.m.

Polit­ics are turn­ing up­side down in the Louisi­ana Sen­ate race, where Demo­crat­ic in­cum­bent Mary Landrieu finds her­self un­der at­tack from a deep-pock­eted and well-con­nec­ted en­vir­on­ment­al­ist.

Tom Stey­er, a bil­lion­aire hedge-fund in­vestor turned en­vir­on­ment­al act­iv­ist, may launch an ad­vert­ising cam­paign pan­ning Landrieu for sup­port­ing the Key­stone XL pipeline. The three-term sen­at­or seek­ing reelec­tion in a state much red­der than it was six years ago says Stey­er’s cri­ti­cism could ac­tu­ally help her win.

“It would prob­ably help me in my state if he would run his ads,” Landrieu said in an in­ter­view shortly after tak­ing the gavel to the Sen­ate En­ergy and Nat­ur­al Re­sources Com­mit­tee last week. Her think­ing is that voters who live in a state de­pend­ent on oil and nat­ur­al gas like Louisi­ana would like a can­did­ate more if she’s fa­cing cri­ti­cism from the en­vir­on­ment­al Left for sup­port­ing a pro­ject that would foster more pet­ro­leum-re­lated en­ergy pro­duc­tion, which the 1,700-mile cross-bor­der pipeline would do.

Re­pub­lic­ans, who see win­ning Louisi­ana as a key step in their quest to re­gain con­trol of the Sen­ate, are spin­ning it the oth­er way. Rob Collins, ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Sen­at­ori­al Com­mit­tee, says that Stey­er could ac­tu­ally end up help­ing Landrieu’s main GOP chal­lenger, Rep. Bill Cas­sidy, win the race.

“Hav­ing a couple mil­lion dol­lars say­ing you’re do­ing the wrong thing on the en­vir­on­ment are dog-whistle ads,” Collins said in an in­ter­view. “People who care about the en­vir­on­ment will hear it, and those who don’t will miss it.” That means, Collins con­cluded, en­vir­on­ment-minded voters may stay at home, in­stead of vot­ing for Landrieu, whom they’re “pre­dis­posed” to vote for ini­tially. “It may not show up in the pro-Cas­sidy vote, but it could have the ef­fect of vote-com­press­ing” on Landrieu’s side, Collins said.

As for Landrieu’s line of think­ing — that Stey­er could ac­tu­ally help her win — Collins said: “I could see the lo­gic. I don’t think it ac­tu­ally bears out.”

Bri­an Wil­lis, a spokes­man rep­res­ent­ing Stey­er’s su­per PAC, Nex­t­Gen Cli­mate, de­clined to com­ment for this story. He also wouldn’t con­firm when Stey­er will de­cide wheth­er to tar­get Landrieu.

Tout­ing a web­site earli­er this month, Stey­er’s group is call­ing on In­ter­net users to help choose a can­did­ate for the group to tar­get in its next TV ad. Oth­ers on the list to choose from in­clude three Sen­ate hope­fuls: Rep. Shel­ley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; former Re­pub­lic­an Gov. Mike Rounds of South Dakota; and Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga. An­oth­er po­ten­tial tar­get is Sen. Marco Ru­bio, R-Fla., who is up for reelec­tion in 2016.

Stey­er’s pre­vi­ous ef­forts in­clude cam­paigns cri­ti­ciz­ing the op­pon­ents of now-Sen. Ed­ward Mar­key, D-Mass., and Demo­crat­ic now-Gov. Terry McAul­life of Vir­gin­ia.

As the first and so far only Demo­crat in Stey­er’s line of fire this year, Landrieu is the most in­ter­est­ing — and ris­ki­est — po­ten­tial tar­get he’s con­sidered yet. Stey­er isn’t the only bil­lion­aire tar­get­ing Louisi­ana’s seni­or sen­at­or though.

Amer­ic­ans for Prosper­ity, a con­ser­vat­ive or­gan­iz­a­tion fun­ded by the bil­lion­aire Koch broth­ers, has already spent $2.6 mil­lion against her, fo­cus­ing mostly on her sup­port for Pres­id­ent Obama’s health care law.

“I have bil­lion­aires on both sides, and I’m ex­actly where I should be, which is right in the middle,” Landrieu said. “I don’t think people are even­tu­ally go­ing to pay a lot of at­ten­tion to these bil­lion­aires on both sides.”

The Key­stone XL pipeline would send more than 700,000 bar­rels of oil a day from Canada’s tar sands to Gulf Coast re­finer­ies. The south­ern part of the pro­ject is already op­er­at­ing, but the top half needs ap­prov­al from the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to cross the Canada-U.S. bor­der. It’s been pending at the State De­part­ment for more than five years. A fi­nal de­cision could come as soon as this spring or sum­mer.

What We're Following See More »
THROUGH THE ELECTION
Brazile Replacing DWS on an Interim Basis
6 minutes ago
THE LATEST

Donna Brazile, the longtime Democratic strategist and political commentator, is replacing Debbie Wasserman Schultz as head of the Democratic National Convention, at least until the November elections.

Source:
OUTLIER OR TREND?
CNN/ORC Poll Shows Big Bounce for Trump
17 minutes ago
THE LATEST

According to a new CNN/ORC poll, Donald Trump emerged from the GOP convention "ahead of Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House, topping her 44% to 39% in a four-way matchup including Gary Johnson (9%) and Jill Stein (3%) and by three points in a two-way head-to-head, 48% to 45%. That latter finding represents a 6-point convention bounce for Trump, which are traditionally measured in two-way matchups."

Source:
AVOIDING CLINTON OR PREFERRING TO CAMPAIGN?
Some Dems in Tight Races Elect to Skip Convention
17 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

As the Democratic National Convention gets underway today in Philadelphia, some prominent Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate are nowhere to be found. "At least four candidates in major races are opting out, including Russ Feingold, who is challengingSen. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin; Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who is taking on Sen. John McCain in Arizona; Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, who is running against Sen. Roy Blunt; and Catherine Cortez Masto, who is battling Rep. Joe Heck in Nevada for the seat vacated by retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid." The candidates have stated their decisions aren't motivated by a desire to avoid being tied to the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Source:
PRIME TIME ADDRESS
Bloomberg to Endorse Clinton This Week
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Michael Bloomberg will endorse Hillary Clinton this week in a prime-time speech. "The news is an unexpected move from Mr. Bloomberg, who has not been a member of the Democratic Party since 2000; was elected the mayor of New York City as a Republican; and later became an independent. But it reflects Mr. Bloomberg’s increasing dismay about the rise of Donald J. Trump and a determination to see that the Republican nominee is defeated."

Source:
MOST WILL BE BOUND IN 2020
Democrats Vote Major Changes to Superdelegate System
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The Democratic Rules Committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of a major shift in the superdelegate system Saturday night after a deal was reached between" the Clinton and Sanders camps. "The committee approved nearly unanimously an amendment that preserves the existing superdelegate role for elected U.S. lawmakers and governors, but will bind the remaining superdelegates — roughly two-thirds — to primary and caucus results."

Source:
×