Allan Katz and Danae Columbus: Republicans prepared to run Washington on their terms; can Landrieu survive?

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Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Excitement spread quickly among well-heeled Democrats that the great performer Stevie Wonder would be the special guest for an “Intimate Evening” at the Windsor Court to benefit Senator Mary Landrieu on Dec. 1, but we’re not sure that even a visit by the famed Stevie Wonder will help energize voters enough to carry Mary over the top. 

First, the Democrats pulled away a $12 Million advertising budget previously designated for Landrieu.  Now, Republicans have decided they don’t even need to run third-party attack ads against Landrieu next week. Despite a re-energized campaign, Team Landrieu continues to face an uphill battle and time is running out.

Washington D.C. pollster Ron Faucheux circulated a conservative Republican poll this week that showed Congressman Bill Cassidy with a wide (22 point) lead and also referenced a previous poll taken for Cassidy that showed a 16 point lead. While we’re sure Senator Landrieu’s polls (though none have been released publically) are more favorable, it doesn’t look good for Landrieu as early voting begins this Saturday and continues through November 28.

Though Allan and Danae are longtime Democrats, we are beginning to see the possibility of a Cassidy victory in the old cloudy crystal ball.  The Republican Party has done a good job of tying Senator Landrieu to our extremely unpopular president, which has been very helpful to Cassidy building a wide base of support beyond traditional Republican voters.  Looking past a basic dislike for the President and “Obamacare,” what makes Bill Cassidy so attractive?  A genuine desire for change? Cassidy’s conservative positions on immigration reform, Medicaid, and funding for social service programs?

We suspect many members of the business community are personally supporting Landrieu because they know how well she “brought home the bacon,” especially after Hurricane Katrina.  Our CBD neighbor, Israeli-born real estate developer Dotan Bonen, says that he supports Cassidy for his stand on foreign policy.  Could it be that the average man and woman on the street would vote for almost any candidate just want to send a clear message to President Obama?

Whether Landrieu or Cassidy represents Louisiana in the next Congress, many Republican sought goals — such as overhauling the corporate tax system, the Keystone Pipeline, lessening financial and environmental legislation, and sweeping trade agreements with Pacific Rim nations and later in Europe — could well get approved. The Affordable Care Act will certainly get amended.

The debt ceiling will also need to be raised next year which could pit the two sides of the Republican Party against each other. Government support of home lending will surely also be heavily debated because of entrenched philosophical differences between the two major parties.  The Republicans have created an ambitious agenda. Will these proposed changes make the public more confident about their Washington leaders?  Probably not.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Republicans haven’t controlled this many House, Senate and gubernatorial seats since 1928.  Not since Harry Truman’s presidency in 1946 have Democrats lost so many House seats (69).  President Dwight Eisenhower lost a combined 66 House seats in 1954 and 1958 midterms.  Republican Elsie Stefanik, 30, is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.  Republican Tim Scott from South Carolina is the first black senator elected from the South since Reconstruction.  Pennsylvania’s Republican Gov. Tom Corbett is the first governor not to win a second term in more than 40 years.

California Governor Jerry Brown received more than 3 million votes, the highest in the country, followed by incoming Florida Governor Rick Scott at 2.9 million votes.   Women in Congress will reach a new high with 100 women elected to serve. Fiscally conservative Saira Blair, 18, successfully campaigned for a West Virginia state house seat from her college dorm room.  Finally, Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton participated in campaign events for 26 candidates – 12 won, 13 lost, and then there is Mary.

Also watch new Republican faces including Georgia Senator David Perdue, a former Dollar General executive; Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a former combat veteran; and Utah Congresswoman Mia Love, the first black woman to represent the Republican party in Washington.

As the victors claim the spoils, Sen. John McCain will probably take over the Senate Armed Services Committee; Sen. Richard Shelby will lead the Senate Banking Committee; Sen. Jeff Sessions is expected to be the Budget Committee chair; followed by Sen. James Inhofe taking the gavel for the Environment and Public Works Committee; Sen. Charles Grassley is next in line at the Senate Judiciary Committee; and Senator Bob Corker will head up the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

President Obama and the Democrats delivered a weak economic message that voters (especially white voters) did not want to hear.  Democrats around the country were on the defensive. They lacked a broad, inspiring vision.  Mitch McConnell and John Boehner say they are “humbled” by the opportunity to “help struggling middle class Americans.”  Will the next Congress really honor the voters’ trust in broad terms?


Meanwhile, we are also watching the media change as well. More than 24 million conservatives each month now flock to the website IJ Review to get the latest right-wing spin as determined by IJ founders Alex Skatell and Phil Musser. Having mastered the art of “social sharing” on Google and Facebook, IJ Review has built a larger following that the Drudge Report, Newsmax and Breitbart News and can hold its own against Fox News and TheBlaze.

Skatell, 28, is a former digital director of the Republican Senatorial Committee. Musser came from the Republican Governor’s Association, where he served as executive director.  IJReview has attracted a strong base of under 18 and over 45 readers. It’s a must read for conservatives in the know.

Allan Katz spent 25 years as a political reporter and columnist at The Times-Picayune, and is now editor of the Kenner Star and host of several television programs, including the Louisiana Newsmaker on Cox Cable. Danae Columbus is executive producer of Louisiana Newsmaker, and has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. They both currently work for the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by their public relations firm are City council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

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