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|Mary's enemies are in a pickle|
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu should consider sending Congressman Richard Baker a bouquet of roses for Valentine's Day.
She should send Congressman Jim McCrery some, too.
While she's at it, Landrieu may want to mail a Valentine's card to Congressman William Jefferson of New Orleans.
Though it's unlikely we will witness it, Landrieu should give Gov. Bobby Jindal a kiss on his cheek. His right cheek, of course.
Why should the senior senator from Louisiana extend so many pleasantries?
She should do it to thank the gentlemen for accomplishing for Landrieu what she couldn't accomplish on her own in the almost 30 years she has held an elective office in the Sportsman's Paradise.
For the first time in Landrieu's long and distinguished political career, the electorate, to some degree, appreciates her for a change. That's a stark contrast from mere months ago.
Yes, it was a short time back we were hearing the pundits tell us the voters were poised to run Landrieu out of office on a rail. More specific, Landrieu was tagged as the most vulnerable incumbent member of the U.S. Senate who faces re-election this year.
That was the case before McCrery announced he would not seek re-election in 2008 to his 4th District seat in the House. Instead, he will leave Congress for what should be a lucrative career as a lobbyist in our nation's capital.
That also was before Baker said he would step down from his perch in the 6th congressional district to become president/chief lobbyist for an association of hedge funds. Baker will make $1 million annually in his new job. His last day in the House is Feb. 7.
Then there's Jefferson, an African-American who has represented the New Orleans area, or the 2nd District in the House, since 1991.
A native of Lake Providence, Jefferson is in the midst of trying his best to stay out of prison in light of an indictment that accused him of taking bribes to facilitate agreements between U.S. businessmen and some Africans.
Let's not forget about Jindal, too.
The new governor represented the 1st District of Louisiana from January 2005 to earlier this month. Jindal resigned from the House to become chief executive of the most dysfunctional state in the Union.
Jindal didn't serve long enough to build up much seniority on The Hill, but he enjoyed a favorable relationship with the president of the United States. That's a good thing regardless if the voters like the president or think he's the buffoon.
In all, the departure, or pending departure, of Baker, Jindal and McCrery—and the uncertainty surrounding Jefferson—represents a huge blow to Louisiana's clout in Washington.
What makes it worse is their departure—or pending departure—came on the heels of Louisiana losing two fairly powerful members of the Congress in John Breaux and Billy Tauzin. Remember, Breaux gave up his Senate seat and Tauzin bailed out of the House in the 2004 election cycle.
Both Breaux and Tauzin are highly paid lobbyists today.
How do all of these retirements from Congress, voluntarily or not, affect Landrieu?
At the very least, Landrieu will become the most senior member of the state's congressional delegation. In some circles, she has become the most coveted elected official in Louisiana since the days of Russell Long riding herd over the U.S. tax code as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
In Washington, members of the Congress secure clout with age, or as the years pass while the members learn how to work the system to benefit the people who matter most—the voters back home and the special interests groups that bankroll their campaigns.
Yet, Landrieu most likely recognizes her new-found popularity among some voters in Louisiana won't stop her enemies from doing their best to unseat her this fall.
The problem her enemies face now is two-fold.
They need a strong Republican candidate void of any baggage, and they've got to find a message to give the people a reason to fire her.