Landrieu Faces Lopsided Air War In Louisiana

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Republican Senate contender Bill Cassidy and his conservative allies have overshadowed endangered Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu by roughly a 180-to-1 margin on television since their campaign went into overtime, according to an analysis released Friday.

         It was a reverse from earlier in the campaign, when Landrieu blanketed the airwaves and conservatives held onto their cash, expecting to spend it during the extra-innings campaign.

         Both Cassidy, a third-term Republican congressman, and Landrieu failed to win more than 50 percent of the vote in a crowded field during Nov. 4's first round of voting. That forced a Dec. 6 runoff where spending on advertising has been focused on the GOP ousting the 18-year Senate veteran.

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         Republicans rushed to the air immediately when it was clear a runoff was coming. Landrieu hobbled onto the air four days later, but at a tiny fraction of what voters were seeing from conservatives.

         The Koch-backed Freedom Partners Action Fund booked more than $2 million in ad time to criticize Landrieu. Between Nov. 5 and Nov. 8, Freedom Partners Action Fund ads had run 175 ads, according to an analysis from the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity, based on data from ad tracking service Kantar/ CMAG.

         The National Republican Senatorial Committee picked up another 350 ads, and Cassidy's campaign ran almost 700 TV spots during that same window.

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         Landrieu, by contrast, was off the air through Nov. 8 and ran about 70 ads over the weekend, according to the Center for Public Integrity analysis.

         "We would obviously love to have a lot more resources and money, but where we're maybe a little bit outspent by Republicans — which is not unusual for Mary Landrieu — we have more enthusiasm and energy to get this done," said Landrieu campaign manager Ryan Berni.

         Advertising requests filed with the stations show Landrieu's ad spending is to increase in coming weeks.

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         No outside groups so far have come to her aid.

         Senate Democrats' campaign committee canceled almost $2 million in planned television ads. And Democrats' largest super PAC, Senate Majority PAC, has not run any ads for the runoff.

         "We are obviously continuing to engage with them, but this race is going to be won in Louisiana," Berni said.

         Another major liberal player, NextGen Climate Action, backs candidates who pledged to defend the environment. Landrieu's backing of energy companies won her support in her state but did not win her many fans among NextGen donors or advisers.

         While Landrieu's on her own, Cassidy's campaign was slated to get another advertising bump from the National Rifle Association. The organization has booked more than $1.1 million in TV ad time, for both pro-Cassidy and anti-Landrieu spots, with its first ad criticizing Landrieu airing Sunday, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Baker.

         Landrieu's campaign points to fundraising solicitations sent out for the senator by 30 of her congressional colleagues to show that Democratic support hasn't entirely dried up for the incumbent.

         Last week's elections swept Republicans into a Senate majority for the first time since 2006. That denied Landrieu the chairman's role of the powerful energy committee and undermined her main argument for re-election — clout.

         Fifty-eight percent of Louisiana's voters chose someone other than Landrieu on Nov. 4, and Cassidy was working to lock up those opposition votes in the runoff.

         Third-place finisher Rob Maness, a Republican and tea party favorite, has backed Cassidy and planned to rally with him and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in north Louisiana this weekend to keep GOP voter enthusiasm high heading into the final days of the campaign.

         – by AP Reporters Melinda Deslatte and Philip Elliott

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