Roemer the outsider
by Sam Hanna, Jr. - posted Tuesday, February 5th, 2013 @ 11:32 pm
Republicans are targeting eight states in hopes of taking control of the U.S. Senate in the 2014 mid-term elections.
Louisiana is one of them, where Sen. Mary Landrieu will seek a fourth term in the most exclusive club in the world.
First elected in 1996 amid allegations of voter fraud, Landrieu, of New Orleans, survived strong challenges in 2002 and 2008, though you could argue with a great deal of accuracy that Landrieu faced fairly weak Republicans in the run-off in those two election cycles. No offense to Suzanne Haik Terrell and John Kennedy. It is what it is. Or was what it was.
Though she's a left-leaning Democrat, Landrieu has carved out a niche in Louisiana politics, voting Democratic often enough to keep the party bosses happy in Washington and straying from the party line often enough to keep the commoners happy on the home front. After all, Louisiana is a red state these days, but Landrieu seems to have mastered the art of straddling the fence. At least that's how it appears on the surface.
Landrieu also has been helped along over the years by a fair number of Republicans, including businessmen who make their money off government contracts or enjoy subsidies courtesy of Uncle Sugar (federal government). They may wear the GOP label, but their personal interests dictate that they support an incumbent who delivers what they want when they want it. Landrieu fits the bill.
Yet, fence straddler or not, Landrieu may face her toughest challenge in 2014 when there won't be any Barack Obama at the top of the ticket to drive voter-turnout in the minority community, which happens to be Landrieu's strongest base of support. The challenge to Landrieu will be driven by a back-lash in Louisiana to everything Obama and the Democratic Party stands for or supports – Obamacare, moratorium on deepwater drilling, higher taxes and over zealous regulations of the oil and gas industry. Throw in Obama's grand scheme to restrict gun ownership and you have the makings for a hostile environment for an incumbent Democrat. Even for Landrieu, who has perfected the art of portraying herself as one of us.
Republicans who are believed to be eyeing a challenge to Landrieu include U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge, U.S. Rep. John Fleming of Minden and former U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry from Acadiana. Last week, Chas Roemer, the 43-year-old president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, acknowledged he may oppose Landrieu, too.
The name Roemer should ring a bell.
Chas Roemer's father is Buddy Roemer, the former congressman and former one-term governor who staged a brief run for the presidency last year. If you missed it, you missed a show.
But Chas Roemer is no Buddy Roemer. They sound alike when they speak, they're both Harvard graduates and they're both highly intelligent. That's as far as it goes, though.
When it comes to one-on-one interaction, the younger Roemer is far more personable than his father. He can match his Daddy on the oratory front, but he outshines his pappa when it comes to backslapping and hand-shaking and kissing babies. To surmise, Roemer the son is a better politician than his Daddy.
But the difference that matters the most if we are to compare Roemer to the other Republicans who may oppose Landrieu is very clear. That is, Roemer is not Washington. He would be the outsider candidate, or the candidate who hasn't played a role in creating the mess that is Washington, D.C. today.
And that alone is why Chas Roemer represents the Republican Party's best hope of unseating Landrieu.
If Republicans have any sense, they'll figure it out. If they don't, they'll lose to Landrieu again.
Sam Hanna, Jr. is publisher of The Ouachita Citizen, and he serves in an editorial/management capacity with The Concordia Sentinel and The Franklin Sun, three newspapers owned and operated by the Hanna family. Hanna can be reached by calling (318) 805-8158 or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.