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Democrat Mary Landrieu Holds Off Strong GOP Challenge in Louisiana

National Republican leaders had targeted Landrieu for defeat after the freshman senator failed to garner the 50 percent to win the seat outright on Nov. 5. President Bush, Vice President Cheney and former President Bush all visited Louisiana in the final days of the campaign.

“We sent a powerful message to this nation. That message is that labels are not what we send to Washington. We send leaders to Washington,” Landrieu said in her victory speech.

Landrieu edged Terrell by approximately four percentage points. With all precincts reporting in the runoff, Landrieu garnered 643,359 votes, or 52 percent, and Terrell had 603,293, or 48 percent.

The victory came as some consolation for a Democratic Party still reeling from the loss of control of the U.S. Senate. Landrieu said her victory helped show the party was stronger than critics charged following the Nov. 5 losses.

“Tonight a great light has gone on in the world, a great light has gone on in the United States — because we turned the lights on,” Landrieu said. “The light has shone that the Democratic Party is alive and well and united.”

Saturday’s vote came at the end of an intense four-week runoff campaign. The national parties flooded the state with millions of dollars in advertising as the relatively unknown Terrell fought to unseat Landrieu.

The two campaigns aired harsh ads and lobbed sweeping criticisms. Terrell blasted Landrieu for living in a “million-dollar” mansion in Washington — really a row house in the out-of-control housing market in the nation’s capital. Landrieu accused Terrell of serving as a rubber stamp for the president and of switching her positions on abortion and taxes to appeal to the GOP’s core voters.

White House officials descended on the state offering financial and other support for Terrell. Vice President Dick Cheney appeared at a fundraiser in late November and the final week of the campaign brought a double-barrel appearance by former President Bush on Monday and current President Bush on Tuesday.

Landrieu instead focused on Louisiana support, campaigning with the state’s senior senator, Democrat John Breaux. She stressed her independence from the national Democratic Party and the president.

“I’m not going to be a rubber stamp for any national party,” she said during the final weeks of the campaign. “The president doesn’t need … another senator. Louisiana needs another senator.”

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