Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu, who’s trying to hold onto her Senate seat this fall, has replaced her campaign manager, though she’ll keep him on as an adviser to the campaign. Her new executive: Ryan Berni, who ran her brother’s successful reelection campaign for New Orleans mayor this past spring. Landrieu is also bringing on two of her Senate staffers, taking leaves of absence from their government jobs, and an adviser who’s worked on her three previous Senate campaigns.
Despite Landrieu’s familial advantages — besides her brother, who has also served as lieutenant governor, her father Moon Landrieu also once served as mayor of New Orleans — she’s locked in a close jungle primary against her presumptive Republican opponent, congressman Bill Cassidy. The primary is the same day as elections in the rest of the country, and since it’s very unlikely Landrieu or Cassidy gets 50 percent, they’ll head to a run-off in early December.
So don’t get too excited: She’s not firing her campaign manager one month out from the real Election Day — she’s firing him two months out.
Cassidy has led Landrieu in the last five polls of the hypothetical run-off, according to Real Clear Politics, averaging about a five-point lead. If and when the run-off happens, Republican and Democratic resources will descend on the state, since it’s quite possible that the Louisiana Senate race will decide which party holds the Senate in 2015.
As Eliana reported for NRO in February, Landrieu, a charismatic politician, has never seen a solid opponent like Cassidy while running in this tough a year. In 1996, she barely won on Bill Clinton’s southern-Democrat coat-tails; in 2002, the GOP ran an unknown former state election commissioner against her and she still didn’t win by much; and in 2008, she ran against a Republican opponent who had once endorsed John Kerry, in a year when Barack Obama’s candidacy boosted Democratic and African-American turnout. Over the course of Landrieu’s Senate career, Louisiana has also like most of the South trended dramatically away from the Democratic party.
Landrieu would like to pretend nothing’s changed, though: “Like any of the senator’s winning campaigns, we are tightening our senior strategy team,” a campaign spokesman told Politico’s James Hohmann.