Later this week, Southern Media & Opinion Research is expected to release the first independent poll assessing the matchup between Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican opponents in next year’s Senate race in Louisiana.
For Landrieu, the poll will illuminate whether her Obamacare strategy is working, or whether the health care law is going to define her race and hurt her prospects. While the poll will be conducted by the independent organization, GOP businessman Lane Grigsby is funding the survey, according to sources in the Landrieu campaign.
“Up until now the issue was manageable for her,” said Louisiana political analyst John Maginnis. “But now I just think that — not just Louisiana but everywhere — the atmosphere is pretty toxic. Obama’s always been unpopular [in the state], but now “¦ if the election were held today I think she’d be a goner.”
Landrieu can’t run from her record of support for the Affordable Care Act, which is under attack thanks to a dysfunctional website, poor enrollment, and widespread insurance cancellations. But she can distance herself from President Obama and his signature legislative achievement — and some say she’s trying.
Evidence that Landrieu was moving in that direction presented itself recently when she exited a closed-door Democratic luncheon in the Capitol and walked up to the microphone in the Ohio Clock corridor usually reserved for leadership. While Democratic leaders have backed the administrative “fix” to the law proposed by the White House, contending that no legislation is needed, Landrieu made the case for her own bill, which lets policyholders keep their current plans.
“Anybody that wants to work with me or anybody else to fix it, I’ll be willing,” she said.
The stakes are high heading into 2014 for Senate Democrats and Landrieu herself, who has drawn opposition from Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and conservative candidate Rob Maness. Her reelection effort, along with that of three other Senate Democrats, has been among the most closely watched of the cycle.
Americans for Prosperity has begun airing ads against Landrieu in Louisiana — Maginnis described them as relentless — linking her to the president and the Affordable Care Act. “I think that’s just a taste of what’s to come,” Maginnis said.
Democrats, however, point to Landrieu’s war chest. With nearly $6 million in cash on hand to Cassidy’s $3.5 million, Landrieu is well-positioned to take on her well-heeled opponents, they argue.
While the anti-Obamacare strain is strong in Louisiana, Landrieu’s camp points to the victory of Republican Vance McAllister in the special election for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District over GOP state Sen. Neil Riser. McAllister, who won the support of a star on A&E’s Duck Dynasty, was cast as a pragmatist. He told voters that although he opposes the law, repeal would likely be impossible given the political composition in Washington.
Some analysts say that’s a sign that voters won’t elect candidates who call exclusively for repeal.
Landrieu welcomed McAllister to the delegation in a statement and said she looks forward to finding “common ground” with the newly-elected congressman, according to The Times-Picayune. Still, with Democratic leadership unwilling at the moment to put her legislation on the floor for a vote, Landrieu’s options to mitigate the damage are limited, analysts say.
“The problem is kind of above her pay grade right now,” Maginnis said. “It’s going to depend on people’s reactions to the Affordable Care Act.”
Recently Landrieu skipped an event when Obama traveled to her home state, which led to media speculation that she was avoiding the president for political reasons. But Landrieu recoils at the notion.
“I flew down with him,” she told reporters. “And I waved from the top of the steps. Did you see me with that big smile? Now did I hide from him? Did you see me hide from him? Was I smiling and waving with the president? If I wanted to hide I wouldn’t have been there.”
What We're Following See More »
"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”
The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.
President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.