BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu described her years of seniority in Congress as crucial to helping Louisiana, while her main Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, discarded that clout as being aligned with a Democratic Party that is out of step with Louisiana values.
The Senate candidates, along with Republican and tea party favorite Rob Maness, made their campaign pitches Saturday to local mayors and parish leaders at the Louisiana Municipal Association Convention. The event was a rare moment in which all three contenders in the Nov. 4 election shared a stage.
A Democrat seeking her fourth term in a tight election, Landrieu continued the approach of her past campaigns. She downplayed her party affiliation, distanced herself from the politics of Washington and talked of the work she's done for Louisiana.
She highlighted efforts to preserve jobs at Fort Polk in central Louisiana and the 2006 law she sponsored that will allow Louisiana to get revenue generated from oil and gas drilling off the Gulf Coast.
Landrieu said her seniority — "18 years standing in line" — moved her into a key leadership position for Louisiana, chairing the Senate energy committee.
"Leadership does matter, the kind of leadership that can work across party lines for the benefit of the people, that can be tenacious and tough and strong and effective and deliver. I do have clout in the United States Senate, 18 years. The way you get it is to stay there," she told hundreds of local elected officials.
Cassidy said Landrieu's seniority doesn't matter, because her party is on the wrong side of issues. He said Louisiana's Senate race likely would decide control of the chamber, and he said keeping the Senate in Democratic hands would keep the country headed in the wrong direction.
"If you feel like the direction of the country is going well now, frankly Sen. Landrieu is probably the person that you should support," Cassidy said. "But if you think, wait a second, our economy's not doing well, my health care premiums are sky-high, I'm having to lay people off or reduce their hours in order to afford those premiums ... then I may be your candidate."
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