Mary Landrieu's bitter end: Why her complaints about Democrats abandoning her ring so hollow

The Louisiana senator is "disappointed" that the Democratic Party isn't helping her. But it's helped her plenty

Published December 4, 2014 5:30PM (EST)

Mary Landrieu          (Reuters/Jonathan Bachman)
Mary Landrieu (Reuters/Jonathan Bachman)

Sen. Mary Landrieu feels abandoned.

In a way, she's right. The DSCC has gone off the airwaves ahead of Saturday's runoff election in Louisiana. And "groups backing Landrieu have aired fewer than 100 TV ads since Nov. 5," the Center for Public Integrity reports, "with most of those coming from the Humane Society Legislative Fund. That's less than 1 percent of the 14,000 TV ads that have aired during the Landrieu vs. Cassidy runoff."

Landrieu can't help but publicly complain about her abandonment. Yesterday she said she was "extremely disappointed" with the DSCC. "You know, they just walked away from this race."

Is the DSCC treating her unfairly relative to how it treated some of her fellow 2014 Senate candidates? Yes. The DSCC poured extraordinary amounts of money into races in Kentucky, Georgia and Arkansas where the Democratic candidates were running the precise sort of terrible, Republican-lite campaigns that she is, in order to get their asses handed to them anyway. Why shouldn't the DSCC waste money on her campaign, too?

Because the Senate's already been lost, obviously, and there's no reason to keep up appearances if it means expending more resources that could be saved up for 2016, when the map looks much more favorable for the Democratic Party. And as for the other deep-pocketed liberal outside groups that aren't helping her out? Well, sorry, that's what happens when you run an illiberal campaign.

The Democratic Party isn't lending Mary Landrieu any air support because she is going to lose. That doesn't mean it's not making any in-kind contributions on her behalf, though. It's allowing her to make a mockery of Democratic energy and environmental policy as she hurtles desperately toward the finish line. This is no small thing.

The Democratic Senate leadership brought up a vote to allow a sludge pipe to run through the country just to help Landrieu shave off a few points from her insurmountable deficit. That's quite a favor from the Democratic Party, considering how close the vote came to overcoming a filibuster and making a farce of the party's environmental platform.

Democrats are also allowing Landrieu to go ahead and trash them with stereotypes about their hippie-dippie tree-hugging plans. One of Landrieu's chief selling points to voters has been her seniority on the Senate Energy Committee. The appeal has lost much of its potency now that Democrats have already lost the Senate, and she'd only be in a position to serve as ranking member instead of chair. She's still using the line, though, and, as Bloomberg's Dave Weigel reported, she's drawing herself in contrast to the Democrat -- Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell -- who would take her place if she loses:

"If I don't get back there as a senior member of the committee," said Landrieu, "we're gonna have a woman who I like very much, [but] I'm not sure Louisiana's going to think very much of a senator from Washington state who's all for windmills and alternative energy, and doesn't support the oil and gas industry! That's who's gonna take my place as head of this committee."

Did this infuriate Cantwell, to be used as a villain by her fellow Democrat? No, she took it in stride. Shortly after Landrieu's pronouncement, an email went out to Cantwell's donor list:

Your calendar might say Election Day passed a month ago, but Mary Landrieu is still fighting for a critical seat in the Senate.

In just three days, Mary will be facing off against her GOP opponent in a tight runoff election. He may have the Koch brothers and shadowy right-wing groups on his side, but Mary's got us.

Democrats aren't sending much money her way, but they're putting up with her shit, even if it eats away at party messaging and policy. If she wants to complain about the Democratic Party abandoning her, she's welcome to, but her gripes are modest compared to the complaints the Democratic Party is respectfully withholding about her.

By Jim Newell

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

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