|Elections Comm. Suzanne Haik Terrell (Republican)|
Both national and key state Republicans reportedly lobbied hard to get Suzanne Haik Terrell to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Mary Landrieu. Terrell, the current state commissioner of elections, has already garnered the support of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and is the best financed of the Republicans running.
One of her chief supporters in the state, dean of the Louisiana congressional delegation Rep. Billy Tauzin, threw his support behind her as soon as she entered the race in July.
"I think she makes it a real race. Coming from New Orleans, I think she has a great base [of voter support]," Tauzin said the day she threw her hat in the ring. "I'm personally encouraging as many people to encourage her and help her out."
Apparently the NRSC, headed by Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist, was listening. Within days of the governor endorsing one of her Republican opponents, the NRSC announced it was backing Terrell, boosting her fundraising by $460,000.
Terrell is the only Republican candidate for Senate who has won a statewide election, defeating Woody Jenkins, the same man Mary Landrieu defeated to earn her Senate seat, in 1999 to capture the commissioner job. She will also be the last to hold the post, because in 2004 the Commission on Elections will cease to exist -- a move Terrell supported saying it would save money and streamline the state government.
Terrell is a native of New Orleans. She attended Newcomb College, an all-girls school associated with Tulane University. After graduation, she owned and operated a small retail business and worked in real estate before going to law school. She earned her legal degree in 1984 from Loyola University Law School.
After graduation, she returned to Louisiana to clerk in the state supreme court. Terrell then entered private law practice focusing on business and administrative law.
She was elected to the New Orleans City Council in 1994, and won re-election unopposed four years later. During her five years on the council, she worked on telecommunications issues in the city as well as ways to reduce domestic violence and control Mardi Gras.
Just a year after coasting to re-election, Terrell decided to run for statewide office, entering a crowded field vying for the state commissioner of elections job. In a tight primary, Terrell defeated sitting Commissioner Jerry M. Fowler, by less than 10,000 votes. The results pitted her in a runoff with Jenkins, a 28-year veteran of the state legislature.
In the run-off, Terrell pulled away, garnering the support of every newspaper that endorsed a candidate. In the end, she defeated Jenkins 59 percent to 41.
Although largely known as a moderate pragmatist, Terrell has been running hard at Landrieu, attacking the senator's positions on abortion, gun control and taxes. She has also focused on support for President Bush, who won the state in 2000.
In announcing her run, she blasted Landrieu for voting with the president only 74 percent of the time.
"Seventy-four percent is not enough -- it is the 26 percent that are the policies the people of Louisiana want to go forward," Terrell said.
--By Lee Banville, Online NewsHour