- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was in Louisiana yesterday trying to ensure his Republican majority in the Senate will have one more member Suzanne Haik Terrell, facing a December 7 runoff against Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu.
"I support Suzie Terrell for the United States Senate," Mr. Lott, Mississippi Republican, said yesterday in Baton Rouge. "She represents Louisiana values, not Washington values, and would help effectively move President Bush's agenda."
Mrs. Landrieu, first elected to the Senate in 1996, failed to get more than 50 percent of the vote Nov. 5 in Louisiana's unique all-party primary, so under state law, she and Mrs. Terrell, meet in next week's runoff.
Mrs. Terrell and Republicans stress that she will support the president. Mrs. Landrieu and Democrats, meanwhile, have emphasized Mrs. Landrieu's experience and membership on key Senate committees.
"If voters in Louisiana look back and see what she's accomplished and what she means for the state as a member of both the Appropriations and Armed Services committees, I think its clear she's working for the people of Louisiana," said Robert Gibbs, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
The two candidates debated over the weekend, and the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that it was "nasty" from the opening comments. After the debate, witnesses told the Times-Picayune that "Landrieu looked over her shoulder and told Terrell, 'This is your last campaign.'"
The Terrell campaign sent out a release saying that the "trash talking" was "bizarre."
"Whatever it was, it certain wasn't senatorial," Bill Kearney, chief adviser to the Terrell campaign, said of Mrs. Landrieu's behavior during and after the debate.
The two are expected to debate again today in Baton Rouge.
Mrs. Landrieu's latest television ad focuses on Social Security and says Mrs. Terrell "supports privatizing the system, raiding trillions from the trust fund." In another ad, Mrs. Landrieu proposes a cut in payroll taxes, and says Mrs. Terrell "would cut taxes only for the wealthy."
"It's taken [Mrs. Landrieu] six years to come around to the idea of tax cuts," said Chad Colby, a spokesman for the Louisiana GOP.
The Louisiana state Republican Party joined forces with the National Republican Senatorial Committee and began airing a TV ad late last week saying Mrs. Landrieu "voted to gut the president's tax cut 20 times" and "supported higher taxes on Social Security."
But the DSCC along with the Louisiana Democratic Party is also hitting hard, rolling out an ad Thursday saying that as state elections commissioner, Mrs. Terrell took money from an out-of-state company and then "gave the same company a contract for new voting machines."
Mr. Bush is expected to be in Louisiana Dec. 3, Republican sources said.
"We feel real good. We have the momentum," said Mrs. Terrell's spokesman, Mac Abrams, who noted that her endorsements include one from popular two-term Republican Gov. Mike Foster.
The National Right to Life Committee also endorsed Mrs. Terrell last week. Carol Tobias, NRLC political action committee director, said they are "certain of Suzanne Terrell's pro-life commitment," while Mrs. Landrieu has taken "pro-abortion" positions on some bills, including voting "to kill a bill to enforce state laws requiring parental notification or consent for abortion."
Neither side could point to any recent polling. A Republican poll conducted Nov. 10-12 had Mrs. Terrell leading 48 percent to 40 percent.
Both sides agreed that the race will be a close one, and heavily dependent on voter turnout.
"The talk is, it's very close and could realistically go either way," said Republican pollster Whit Ayres.
Brad Coker, managing director of the independent Mason-Dixon Polling and Research group called the race "a tossup" and said if Mrs. Landrieu "can't get the African-American vote out, I think Terrell will win."

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