Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., is launching a 2014 campaign against Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., saying the three-term lawmaker is a reliable vote for the Obama agenda and provided critical votes that led to record deficits and Obamacare.
Cassidy is a longtime physician, known for teaching medical students at Louisiana State University and establishing public-private partnerships to inoculate tens of thousands of poor children. He also co-founded a venture to make sure the working uninsured receive free medical an dental care. He was elected to the Louisiana State Senate in 2006 and the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008. Cassidy says he is seeking higher office next year because the Democratically-controlled Senate is thwarting progress in Washington.
"Over the last four or five years, House Republicans have been able to put the brakes on some of the most harmful parts of the Obama agenda, at least after we took the majority," Cassidy said. "It is a Democratic Senate which actually continues to aid and abet the advancement of the Obama agenda, which I just think is the wrong direction for our country to go in.
"Sen. Landrieu supports the president 97 percent of the time. If I think it's important to fix Congress so that Congress can put a check on the president and then actually advance a positive agenda that takes us in a better direction, well then if I'm positioned to win that seat then I feel like it's my responsibility to go for it," he said.
Cassidy plans to link Landrieu to Obama every chance he can. In fact, Cassidy declares in his announcement video that he is running against Landrieu and Obama. He says that connection is vital for people to understand.
"That is the transparency that the voter needs to know. If folks think, 'Oh my gosh, we have a moderate Democrat who's out there fighting for us,' they may say one thing. If point the headlights, if you will, on the truth, which is that she supports the president 97 percent of the time, and that the policies that the president has pursued are not the direction that most people in Louisiana want our country to go, then it's important that that truth be brought out to the Louisiana voter," said Cassidy.
Cassidy already starts at a much healthier place than most candidates taking on an incumbent. According to a recent Harper Polling survey, Landrieu leads Cassidy 46-41 percent even though 56 percent of Louisiana voters don't yet know enough about Cassidy to have an opinion of him. Landrieu's problem is that she has a 42 percent disapproval rating. Cassidy says something important can be interpreted from those numbers.
"It isn't so much that Louisiana is leaving Senator Landrieu. It is that Senator Landrieu has left Louisiana in the sense that 60 percent of the people voted for Gov. Romney. She supports the president 97 percent of the time," he said. "Senator Landrieu, as she has become more liberal, has grown out of step with the average Louisiana voter. That's why we hope to bring Louisiana values back to Washington."
Louisiana largely trends Republican. Republican presidential candidates have won the state comfortably in the past four cycles, Gov. Bobby Jindal has twice won convincingly and Sen. David Vitter easily won re-election in 2010. So why does Landrieu keep winning and who is voting for her but not the other statewide Democratic candidates?
"There are actually Republicans that vote for Sen. Landrieu, in part because they think she's a conservative. That's been an image she's been able to project. But, again, when you look at the voting record, just to repeat once more, she supports the president's agenda 97 percent of the time. Once folks become acquainted with that, they may say we like her personally but we just think our country should go in a different direction," said Cassidy.
Cassidy says his main objectives in the months to come are to make sure people know where Mary Landrieu stands on the issues and convince them that he has better ideas on the key issues.
"I have 19 months to connect with the voters of Louisiana to show that our policies are a better set of policies. I think folks like that more if you do it as much as possible in smaller meetings as opposed to just TV commercials. We're working on those smaller meetings," said Cassidy.
And what are the big issues for Cassidy? In his announcement video, he vowed to pursue balanced budgets, protect Second Amendment rights and champion pro-life values. He also spelled out how those positions differ greatly from Sen. Landrieu's record. But for Dr. Cassidy, dealing with Obamacare is at the very top of the agenda because it effects to many areas of life.
"Right now the voter in Louisiana is concerned about the economy, as are voters across the nation. They recognize that small businesswoman may make a decision not to hire that fiftieth employee because once she does, she has to pay a penalty of $40,000 to comply with Obamacare," said Cassidy. "Or the voter may realize that because of Obamacare, they're losing their full-time job and they're being moved to a part-time job. All those are issues that are keeping folks from economic advancement, from having a better future for their family."
" I am running on the positive agenda of replacing Obamacare. Unfortunately, Senator Landrieu was the deciding vote on that. So both the economy and health care, and quite frankly personal freedom are all wrapped up in that one issue. That'll be prominent," said Cassidy.