- The Washington Times - Friday, November 15, 2002

Republicans are closing ranks around Suzanne Haik Terrell in her bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana in the December 7 runoff election.
Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster, a Republican who earlier had threatened to back Mrs. Landrieu, yesterday said he would support President Bush's desire to see a Republican win the Senate seat.
"The governor said he feels an obligation to support the president," a Foster spokesman said of the remarks Mr. Foster made in a Louisiana radio appearance yesterday.
Louisiana Republican sources close to the governor said they expected a more formal endorsement from him later.
Mrs. Terrell, the state elections commissioner, yesterday met in the White House with Mr. Bush, Vice President Richard B. Cheney and White House chief political adviser Karl Rove. She also met with White House political director Ken Mehlman and Republican National Committee Deputy Chairman Jack Oliver.
The Bush team is doing everything it can to help Mrs. Terrell, whose victory would increase the Republican Senate majority to 52 seats when the new Congress convenes in January.
Mr. Foster's indirect endorsement of Mrs. Terrell was significant. The governor had backed Republican Rep. John Cooksey over Mrs. Terrell and a third Republican, state Rep. Tony Perkins, who were competing in the Nov. 5 election for the right to face off against Mrs. Landrieu in the runoff.
But the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee backed Mrs. Terrell as the best hope to beat Mrs. Landrieu, angering Mr. Foster, who complained about what he saw as unprecedented national party interference in a state primary election.
Mrs. Landrieu failed to win a majority on Nov. 5 and, under the state's unusual election rules, was forced into the December 7 runoff against the second-highest vote getter, Mrs. Terrell.
Louisiana Republican sources say Mr. Perkins, who opposes abortion without exception and won 10 percent of the vote Nov. 5, is prepared to endorse Mrs. Terrell soon. He has spoken to her and now is satisfied that Mrs. Terrell is genuinely pro-life and supports gun rights and that she would oppose tax increases as a senator.
"We are very hopeful Tony's support will be forthcoming," Terrell campaign spokesman Bill Kearney said. "Tony and his constituency are an important part of our election campaign."
Meanwhile, the National Right to Life Committee is putting out information about Mrs. Landrieu, saying she "has compiled a strongly pro-abortion voting record." The pro-life group doesn't endorse political candidates, but is reminding members that Mrs. Landrieu faces a runoff election against Mrs. Terrell.
Mrs. Terrell promises to "put Louisiana first" in a new campaign ad, produced by Republican media adviser Alex Castellanos, scheduled to run statewide today.
In the 30-second TV spot, Mrs. Terrell touts her accomplishments as state commissioner of elections and promises to "work with President Bush to reverse the tax increases to get back jobs, support our troops and protect our families."
A Republican strategist close to the White House yesterday said he thinks Mrs. Terrell has a good shot at winning because she appears well on the way to uniting economic, social and religious conservatives among Louisiana Republicans. Mrs. Landrieu, meanwhile, must try to unite two groups of voters: Democrats who oppose Mr. Bush on economic and foreign policy, and swing voters who join Democratic Sen. John B. Breaux in supporting Mr. Bush.
A second Republican strategist, also close to the White House, said Mrs. Landrieu's "only hope" is to turn out more black voters than she managed to do on Nov. 5.
Also in Louisiana, Republicans yesterday got a boost in a runoff for an open House seat. A new poll from Public Opinion Strategies a Republican firm has Republican Lee Fletcher leading Democrat Rodney Alexander by 50 percent to 41 percent in the race for Louisiana's 5th District.

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