Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., said Wednesday that she believes flood insurance legislation was the deciding factor in Tuesday's special election in Florida, not health care.
Landrieu has championed the legislation in the Senate and, as CQ Roll Call reported previously , has her own political motivations for doing so, given her own tough re-election bid in 2014. But the Louisiana Democrat said Wednesday that House GOP leaders saw the importance of the issue in the Florida gulf district and pushed through a bill, which the Senate could take up as soon as this week, to its own political benefit. "The Florida special election was more about flood insurance than it was about health insurance and I'm proud to have raised that issue because that district cares a lot about flood insurance," Landrieu said. "That's one of the reasons that the leadership in the House moved quickly on a flood insurance bill, because they knew that it could be very difficult for their Republican candidate to try to get here without having addressed the No. 1 concern of the people of that district, which is flood insurance."
Both Republican winner David Jolly and defeated Democrat Alex Sink were forced to discuss their own flood insurance plans on the trail , as one of the counties in their district contains the nation's highest number of homes facing flood insurance premium increases in the event Congress does not pass a legislative fix .
As pundits attempt to sort out the causes and ramifications of Tuesday's special-election win for Republicans, perhaps one takeaway is that local and regional issues still matter and can be the focus of campaigns, even for incumbents in a post-earmark era. One of the key's to Landrieu's re-election narrative, for instance, is her influence in Washington and how it can be used to advocate for issues important to constituents at home. Pushing through a flood insurance bill was one example of how to demonstrate such a power (although her GOP opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy, was very much involved in the House's effort).
Last month, Landrieu also became chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which puts her in a prime position to advocate for more drilling and domestic energy production when most other Democrats would not. Earlier this week, she was one of several moderate, in-cycle Democrats missing from a 31-member all-night talkathon on climate change.
"The issues for Louisiana remain pretty consistent in and out of election cycles and in and out of who is the president. They are jobs, good jobs; energy, expanding energy opportunities for drilling and energy infrastructure; flood insurance; rebuilding after disasters; and good, quality education," Landrieu said. "Those issues remain constant. They don't change very much ... period."
Landrieu is set to release a "more detailed agenda" for the Energy Committee early next week, which could reveal a whole host of parochial energy issues affecting the gulf region.