Landrieu Getting Little Help Before Senate Runoff

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the final contest of this year's midterm elections, Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is heading toward her Saturday runoff against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy with essentially zero financial help from outside allies.

         How disparate is their support? In all, 97 cents of every dollar not spent directly by the two campaigns since Nov. 5 has been to help Cassidy.

         Landrieu's backers all but walked away from her after she failed to capture a majority of the vote on Nov. 4 and win her bid for a fourth term outright. Under Louisiana election law, that put her into a runoff with Cassidy.

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         Since then, Republicans have spent heavily to push Cassidy, a three-term House member from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, into the Senate.

         But Democratic groups canceled planned television time, and independent liberal groups — which had spent more than $10 million to back Landrieu's campaign before November — reduced their spending on her behalf to a trickle.

         Those groups have spent just $264,000 during the last month to support Landrieu, and more than half came from the Humane Society Legislative Fund to buy television ads.

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         None has come from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which had spent more than $4 million before Nov. 4. The party's Senate campaign arm quickly ditched plans to spend almost $2 million on ads for the runoff after it became clear Democrats had lost their majority in the Senate whether Landrieu wins or loses.

         "I am extremely disappointed in the Democratic Senatorial (Campaign) Committee," Landrieu said. "They just walked away from this race, but my colleagues have not walked away."

         Landrieu said her Senate colleagues have helped her raise money, even if the party's committee has not. Even so, her most recent campaign finance reports show her with less than $800,000 in her accounts as of Nov. 16. Cassidy reported almost $1.3 million at the ready.

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         Former Louisiana Sen. John Breaux, a Democrat, said he finds the Senate committee's decision to skip TV ads "just incredible."

         "I think that was a serious mistake," he said. "Announcing it was an even more serious mistake."

         The Republicans' Senate campaign arm has spent more than $1.3 million since the runoff began, according to Federal Election Commission reports. Since Nov. 5, outside groups have reported spending $7.6 million to help Cassidy, and groups with ties to the billionaire Koch brothers are responsible for almost $2.8 million of that.

         Much of that has shown up on television. In fact, more than 14,000 ads have run during this runoff campaign, according to an analysis by the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity, using data from ad tracking firm Kantar Media/CMAG.

         Of those, fewer than 100 have been from outside groups to help Landrieu. Her campaign is behind 3,000 ads, but is still being out-broadcast by Cassidy's 5,000 TV spots.

         Even though Republicans will have a majority when the Senate convenes in January, their hold of the majority is precarious come 2016. The GOP will be defending 24 seats, including contests that are expected to be competitive in New Hampshire, Iowa, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

         Winning Louisiana this year could give Republicans extra padding in 2016.

         – by AP Reporter Philip Elliott


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