Louisiana might not be a battleground state after Tuesday, but the state was the setting for Act I of a close race for a U.S. Senate seat.
One thing certain is that Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) will not be chairing any committees if she wins another term. While the incumbent was able to say she offered clout as the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, she’ll be handing over the gavel at the end of the year as Republicans gain control of the Senate regardless of the outstanding Louisiana race.
The current ranking member is Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
Incumbent Landrieu and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) will be heading to the Dec. 6 runoff.
The Real Clear Politics polling average for the runoff puts Cassidy at a 4.8-point advantage, but no fresh poll data has been released since Tuesday’s vote.
Louisiana has an open primary system in which everyone is on the ballot for the Nov. 4 general election. Tea Party candidate Rob Maness was on the ballot, supported by Sarah Palin and vowing to defeat Landrieu.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, according to the state’s Secretary of State office, Landrieu came out ahead in the general election with 42 percent, or 618,840 votes. Cassidy had 41 percent, or 602,439 votes. Maness had 14 percent as he got 202,413 votes.
Polls closed at 8 p.m. By 9:41 p.m., neither Cassidy nor Landrieu made an appearance at their election party.
Maness made an appearance at his election night party at the Rock n’ Bowl in New Orleans. According to The Times-Picayune, the Madisonville, La. resident plans to support Cassidy in a runoff.
“There’s going to be unity in the Republican Party very soon,” Maness campaign director Michael Byrne told the newspaper. “Rob has said all along he will support the Republican nominee.”
Maness visited all 64 parishes and logged over 84,000 miles in his truck. One factor that urged him to run was how the political climate strayed from the days of Kennedy and Reagan.
“I saw none of the positive, soaring unifying ideals of Kennedy and Reagan and only out-of-touch, career politicians who spoke loudly in opposition, but were silent in their vision,” Maness said in his prepared speech on Tuesday.
The Pelican State might have more Democratic voters, but Republicans still have higher voter turnout, according to an analysis by The Times-Picayune. In the 2012 election, the state had 3,092 precincts with a majority of Democrats compared with 1,084 Republican-majority precincts. However, 1,463 precincts voted for Obama in 2012 compared with 2,746 for Romney.
In Orleans Parish, where voters recently elected Landrieu’s brother Mitch to another term as mayor, the incumbent led.
On the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, the results were clearly in favor of Cassidy as the congressman led in St. Tammany.
Landrieu led in Jefferson Parish.
At Cassidy’s election night party in Baton Rouge, the issue of Landrieu’s residency was still salient.
“We don’t want a Washingtonian to lead Louisiana,” former Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.) told The (Baton Rouge, La.) Advocate. “We want a Louisianan to lead Louisiana.”
Cao was the former representative for District 2, which comprises the city of New Orleans. He won the election in 2010 by defeating Democrat William Jefferson.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to continue sharing my positive message with voters across the state and let them know they don’t have to settle for an out-of-touch Senator that supports the unpopular Obama policies that hurt Louisiana,” Cassidy said in a statement. “I look forward to spending more time with voters across the state this month as we talk about common-sense, conservative reforms that will get our country back on the right track.”