More than a few political prognosticators say U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana is one of three Senate Democrats from the South whose re-election prospects in 2014 are marginal at best.
Besides Landrieu, who is seeking a fourth term, the other vulnerable southerners are Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Kay Hagan of North Carolina. Pryor is running for a third term. Hagan is in the hunt for a second. Their Achilles' heel – supposedly – revolves around the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare.
Supposedly the new heath insurance program is so detested in Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina that three Democratic U.S. senators could lose their seats over it. After all, ObamaCare represents President Obama's signature legislative achievement, and the three suspects in question – Hagan, Landrieu and Pryor – either outright embrace ObamaCare or have been reluctant to vote to repeal it. Democrats currently hold 53 seats in the Senate. Republicans have 45.
Two independents serve in the Senate, but they caucus with Democrats. In 2014, 33 Senate seats are up for grabs. Democrats control 21 of them. Fourteen of them belong to Republicans.
Five Democrats are retiring from the Senate, creating wide-open races in Iowa, Michigan, Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia. Two Republicans have declared their intentions to retire, in Georgia and Nebraska, while Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi hasn't said publicly whether he'll seek a seventh term. There exists a line of thinking that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) – the Democrat's political arm in the Senate – won't have enough money to protect every Democratic U.S. senator who will stand for re-election next year. There are 16 of them, though Republicans say they've identified seven Democrats who they believe they can unseat, including Hagan, Landrieu and Pryor.
In other words, the DSCC may be forced to abandon one or two or three of their own in order to protect an incumbent Democrat or two who they believe can turn back a Republican challenge. That same line of thinking projects that the DSCC will work diligently to protect just one of the three southerners – Hagan, Landrieu or Pryor.
Two of them will all but be abandoned in their re-election campaigns. Is Landrieu strong enough to warrant assistance from the DSCC in her campaign against Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy? I say yes, but my track record in predicting the outcome of elections has been a bit spotty of late. Yet, I say Landrieu is not to be counted out because we've been hearing for more than a decade that Landrieu's career in politics has run its course.
Remember 2002 when Suzanne Haik Terrell had the backing of the entire Republican establishment, including President George W. Bush, but failed to stop Landrieu from securing a second term? Remember 2008 when state Treasurer John Kennedy pulled some 48 percent of the vote in his bid to unseat Landrieu? There's no question the 2014 mid-term elections are important. In fact, it's impossible to adequately describe the significance of them.
Will Republicans maintain their majority in the House and take control of the Senate? In other words, will Republicans enjoy enough success next year to stop Obama from doing any more damage to the Republic in his final two years in office? If Republicans are banking on Cassidy beating Landrieu to pick up enough seats to take control of the Senate, they would be well served to revisit the outcome of the recent 5th District congressional race in Louisiana.
If they'll take the time to study how that campaign played out, Republicans will discover that they will need more ammunition than Landrieu's support of ObamaCare to convince a majority of the voters in Louisiana to retire her. Who knows? Maybe Cassidy should advocate fixing ObamaCare, not nix it like Vance McAllister did in the 5th District race. It worked for him.