Right after word was leaked last month that Vice President Joe Biden would host a New Orleans fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, Roger Villere, chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party, issued a statement calling for the event's cancellation and questioning Landrieu's stance on gun rights. (The event went on as scheduled.)
Almost as soon as that happened, the American Chemistry Council went on the air in Louisiana's major markets with television ads calling Landrieu a "proven leader who brings both sides together to get results." The spot points to her support for the expansion of energy production, coastal restoration, aid for small businesses and education funding.
The American Chemistry Council, an advocacy organization on the side of chlorine and plastics manufacturers and the chemical industry in general, spent $7.3 million lobbying the federal government in 2012 and gave more than $527,000 in contributions to members of Congress last cycle. The council also bankrolled similar ads roughly five months ago for U.S. Sen. David Vitter, a Metairie Republican.
For Landrieu, however, it is a sequel of sorts. In November, the American Petroleum Institute, the lead trade group representing oil and gas interests on Capitol Hill, fueled a flurry of TV ads praising Landrieu's stand against higher energy taxes. If nothing else, it could be an early sign that third-party groups will have something to say about Landrieu's 2014 re-election chances.
That could explain Villere's recent surge of criticism — that, and Biden's role in helping draft the administration's recent gun safety package. It is an opportune time for Villere to strike, having just been elected vice chairman of the Republican National Committee. His spokesperson, Jason Dore, said the task is as much a priority on the national level as it is back home.
"Clearly Mary is going to be a target for the national party and there are a lot of people excited about taking the seat, given our recent electoral history," Dore said. "We're going to spend 2013 building the party in preparation for that."
Meanwhile, Landrieu's fourth quarter campaign finance report showed her with $2.5 million cash on hand — almost three times what she had when she began her 2008 re-election campaign. — Jeremy Alford