Our Views: Dems face La. challenge

Although Nov. 6 proved a lucky day for Democrats in the presidential contest and in the fight for control of the U.S. Senate, the party’s influence in Louisiana races was much more muted. Louisiana Democrats can take some satisfaction in the re-election of President Barack Obama, and in Senate races across the country that resulted in strengthened Democratic control of that legislative body.

But within the state, the picture looks much bleaker for Democrats. East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden, one of Louisiana’s most prominent Democrats, easily won a third term — and affirmation of the party’s continuing hold on the leadership of Louisiana’s major cities. The mayors of Shreveport, Baton Rouge and New Orleans are all Democrats.

But with the exception of U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, who easily won re-election to his 2nd District seat, the Louisiana delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives is made up of Republicans. U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, also of New Orleans, is the lone Democrat among Louisiana’s two U.S. senators. U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie, is Louisiana’s other senator.

Landrieu is widely expected to face a strong GOP challenger if she stands for re-election in two years. U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, a Baton Rouge Republican, has been mentioned as a possible candidate for that Senate race. Cassidy has not committed to running for the Senate seat.

Landrieu struck a tone of moderation in commenting on the results of the Nov. 6 election.

“The election is over, and the president has been re-elected,” Landrieu said in a prepared statement. “Now it’s time to leave the campaign labels at the door and go to work as Americans on America’s challenges. We must focus on strengthening our economic recovery, solving our long-term debt challenges and finding a way to address our nation’s infrastructure deficit, particularly as it relates to water resources from flood protection to ports and maritime, which if not tackled will cripple our long-term recovery. Finally, I am standing ready to work with my colleagues in the Northeast toward a robust recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.”

Landrieu has managed to retain her Senate seat at a time of Republican resurgence in Louisiana by positioning herself as a balanced pragmatist, but the results of congressional and Senate races on the Nov. 6 ballot suggest that moderates are having a hard time gaining — and keeping — seats in Congress as Capitol Hill becomes increasingly polarized between right and left.

That should make for interesting politics going forward from the Nov. 6 election — both in Washington, D.C., and here in Louisiana.