Two or three months ago Republicans in Louisiana thought they had a shot had knocking off Sen. Mary Landrieu due to the odd general election laws there: if a candidate doesn’t get better than 50 percent, she’s forced into a runoff with the second highest vote getter. Thinking that Landrieu was ripe to be taken down due to her low — indeed, contested — election numbers last time out, the state GOP recruited three candidates to run against her, including Rep. John Cooksey. But Cooksey hasn’t done the job, and trails Landrieu badly in the polls.
The Louisiana situation recently caught the attention of White House senior adviser Karl Rove, who was mulling whether or not it would be worth it to have current Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster throw his hat in the ring to take on Landrieu. All signs now are that it won’t be. “It’s not as easy a decision as you might think,” a Republican National Committee staffer had said last week. “It’s kind of late in the game to mount a campaign, we’d have to be pretty sure that Foster wasn’t burning a bridge that might be open to him further down the road.”
There is little or no chance that Foster would take on the other Bayou senator, John Breaux, who remains popular in state and with this White House. Louisiana wasn’t thought to be a serious state in play six months ago, but as Republicans have watched Senate races tighten up in Texas and Tennessee (once thought safe for Republican re-election), and uncertainty in potential swing states like Minnesota and South Dakota, they know Landrieu’s seat could loom large in the battle for Republican control of the Senate.
RAISING THE BARR
Rep. Bob Barr is not letting the grass grow under his feet. Just a week after losing a bitterly fought Republican primary to the equally conservative Rep. John Linder, the first congressman to call for Bill Clinton’s impeachment is on his way to…get this, Switzerland. No, he is not in Switzerland to ferret out Swiss bank accounts belonging to the Clintons or the Hubbells. Barr flew to Switzerland Thursday to make good on a long-standing commitment to address European conservatives on the threats to the rule of law extant on both sides of the Atlantic. The group he is addressing is one whose conservatism mixes libertarianism and conservatism much as it is mixed in America. Barr’s appearance before it is an indication of his plans for the future.
Since his defeat he has been working with others to establish offices in Georgia and Washington from which he will be, as he puts it, “working on the issues I have been championing in Congress.” Barr, aside from being a card-carrying conservative, is a strict civil libertarian; and he plans to work ardently for civil liberties, particularly issues of privacy.
As his campaign against Linder made clear, Barr is a favorite among conservative leaders. Such eminences as David Keene, Kenneth Starr, Grover Norquist, and Charlton Heston flew into his contested district to support him. Now he is energetic to bring his issues to the rest of the nation. He will be active among conservatives on behalf of civil liberties; and, through his friendship with responsible types in the American Civil Liberties Union, he will be influencing liberals.
Not daunted in the least by his defeat in Georgia, Barr is looking to national vistas. He says he “may now have more of an impact” out of Congress than in. Good news for the haters!