In an article published Tuesday in the E&E Daily, a Beltway publication devoted to environmental and energy issues, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) stated that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “runs the Senate like a plantation.” Cassidy is running against incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) in Louisiana’s US Senate race. The GOP Congressman is obviously trying to appeal to hard-core conservatives by tying Landrieu to both Reid and President Obama and seems to think using language that hearkens back to the antebellum South will mobilize the hatefully bigoted voters that make up a good percentage of the GOP base in Louisiana.
Robin Bravender of E&E met up with Cassidy last week in Louisiana for the interview. Bravender was able to get a number of juicy quotes from the Senate candidate that will be welcome red meat for the ultra-conservatives. However, at the same time, Cassidy’s comments can just as likely backfire and energize Democrats while also making moderates feel that Cassidy might be a bit too extreme for their tastes.
Below is an excerpt from Bravender’s piece (emphasis mine):
When he talks about the campaign, he’s liberal in dishing out criticism of Landrieu, linking her whenever possible to Obama and Reid, the Nevada Democrat who holds the reins in the Senate as majority leader. “[Obama] wouldn’t get his agenda through if she wasn’t there supporting Harry Reid,” Cassidy said during a meeting with David Rabalais, executive director of the port.
Reid “runs the Senate like a plantation,” Cassidy said. “So instead of the world’s greatest deliberative body, it is his personal, sort of, ‘It goes if I say it does, if not it stops.’ Senator Landrieu’s first vote for him to be re-elected means that every other wish for a pro-oil and gas jobs bill is dead. Reid will never allow a pro-oil and gas jobs bill.”
After the E&E article was published, video surfaced from a speech Cassidy gave in April 2012 where he claimed he didn’t want to be kicked “around like a slave.”
Below is video of the speech, courtesy of Louisiana Hometown. Cassidy’s comparison to slavery occurs around the 22-minute mark.
CASSIDY: “Now, I will finish up by saying this and then hopefully getting a couple of questions. I’m a U.S. Representative. I am so privileged to be that. Will Rogers said that your elected representative is nothing but the hired help. And I actually think that is the appropriate attitude. In our democracy, I am to represent. I am to be the hired help. Now, you don’t kick me around like a slave but on the other hand I am here to say that the greatest among us shall be our servants — and I always tell my staff we want to be the greatest office there is.”
If Landrieu were smart, she’d jump on this and take full advantage of Cassidy’s moronic remarks. Currently, in head-to-head matchups, Landrieu and Cassidy are practically tied. Louisiana has an open primary system where all of the candidates face-off in the general election in November. The election is settled if the first-place vote getter breaks 50%. However, if nobody tops 50%, then the election goes to a runoff in December between the top two candidates. While Landrieu is far ahead of the polls because Republicans currently have three candidates, she isn’t over 50%. Therefore, even if she wins in November by double digits, she’ll have to go to the runoff and face a Republican (very likely Cassidy.)
It is in Landrieu’s best interests to marginalize Cassidy enough that she can either hit 50% in November or make him so unappealing that even if it goes to a runoff she will win handily. Highlighting Cassidy’s quasi-racist statements and framing him as an extremist is a good way to reach that goal.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).