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  U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu broadens statewide appeal, says 'centrist' strategy led to her re-election
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ContributorBrandonius Maximus 
Last EditedBrandonius Maximus  Nov 06, 2008 09:21am
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MediaNewspaper - New Orleans Times-Picayune
News DateThursday, November 6, 2008 03:20:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionBATON ROUGE -- Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu credits her 120,000-vote victory Tuesday over Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy to a strategy that framed the race as a referendum on her status as a centrist working both sides of the aisle to advance Louisiana causes, with hurricane recovery perhaps topping the list.

A Times-Picayune analysis of the returns of her 52 percent to 46 percent victory shows that the New Orleans native has expanded her appeal since first winning the seat by less than 6,000 votes in 1996.

For the first time in her three Senate elections, Landrieu's total victory margin was larger than her margin in Orleans Parish, long the state's richest source of Democratic votes, though diminished in number since Hurricane Katrina.

She won more votes -- 986,411 -- and more parishes -- 38 -- than in either of her previous races, in what she described as a "reverse Katrina effect, " picking up support not only from New Orleans, but also in Jefferson, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes, which had supported her opponents in the past.

Landrieu's path to victory has never been easy, and running during a presidential election year added to the challenge in a state that is growing increasingly Republican in its White House preference. Landrieu said during the campaign that she expected this race to be her "easiest, " but not necessarily easy.

"The conventional wisdom was shattered, " Landrieu said of political observers who doubted her viability after her base was eroded by the loss of voters forced from New Orleans by Katrina.

"They said the state had gone red, " she said during a news conference Wednesday in New Orleans, referring to the color identified with states that support Republican candidates. "They said there was the Katrina effect . . . and that Sen. Landrieu could not win, but the people of Louisiana respect hard work and they respect honesty."
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