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Mary Loretta Landrieu ( , ; born November 23, 1955) is the senior United States Senator from the State of Louisianamarker, and is the second woman elected to the U.S. Senate for Louisiana. Landrieu is the daughter of former New Orleansmarker mayor and Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Developmentmarker, Moon Landrieu and the sister of current Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana Mitch Landrieu. By national standards, Landrieu is among the most conservative Democrats in the U.S. Senate, and is a member of the New Democrat Coalition.

Personal life

Landrieu was born in Arlington, Virginiamarker to Verna Satterlee and former New Orleansmarker mayor Moon Landrieu, and raised in New Orleansmarker. She was raised as a Roman Catholic and attended Ursuline Academymarker of New Orleans. She graduated from Louisiana State Universitymarker in Baton Rougemarker in 1977 where she was a member of Delta Gamma sorority. Before entering politics, she worked as a real estate agent. She was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1980 to 1988, representing a New Orleans-based district. She then served as Louisiana state treasurer from 1988 to 1996. Landrieu ran for governor of Louisiana in 1995, but finished third in the state's jungle primary (which at that time was considered the actual election in Louisiana). The eventual winner was Democrat-turned-Republican Murphy J. "Mike" Foster, Jr.

Landrieu and her husband, attorney Frank Snellings (born 1949), who grew up in Monroemarker, have two adopted children, Connor and Mary Shannon. Frank Snellings' parents (Landrieu's parents in law), George and Marie Louise Snellings, were originally Republicans who later switched party affiliation.

1996 Senate election

Landrieu was elected in 1996 to the U.S. Senate seat previously held by John Bennett Johnston, Jr. of Shreveportmarker after winning a close and controversial runoff election against Louisiana State Representative Woody Jenkins.

Landrieu as senator

Landrieu narrowly won re-election in the 2002 mid-term election. She defeated Suzanne Haik Terrell of New Orleans. Some experts and pundits had considered Landrieu as a possible running mate for presidential candidate John Kerry in the 2004 election before Kerry's selection of then- Senator John Edwards of North Carolinamarker. With the departure of John Breaux from the Senate in December 2004, his seat being taken by Republican David Vitter, Landrieu became Louisiana's senior senator.

She has made securing funding for Louisiana projects one of her top priorities as a US Senator. She has also held high profile hearings on the mistakes of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. In a break from her previous two close elections, she won a relatively comfortable 52% to 46% re-election to a third term on November 4, 2008, in a race against her challenger, Louisiana State Treasurer John Neely Kennedy, a former Democrat who switched to the Republican Party in 2007.

On December 15, 2008, it was announced that Landrieu would become Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship for the 111th Congress upon resignation of Vice President-elect Joe Biden.

Committee assignments


Senate career

Landrieu supports eliminating the estate tax permanently, and voted for the tax cut passed in 2001. On November 17, 2005, she was one of only four Democrats to vote against repealing the portions of the tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003 that more Democrats have charged unfairly benefit the wealthy. She voted for the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 and the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. In 2004, Landrieu was one of only six Democrats to vote against renewing the ban on semi-automatic firearms. She has also been one of the few Democrats to support drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refugemarker.

Landrieu voted for the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts in 2005, but in 2006, she opposed Samuel Alito, though she did vote in favor of cloture to send the nomination to an up-or-down vote.

Subsequent to the 2006 midterm election, in which the Democratic Party gained control of both houses of Congress, Landrieu announced (along with Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine) the formation of the "Common Ground Coalition", a group of moderate senators of both parties, with the goal of finding bipartisan consensus on legislative matters.

Health care

Landrieu was opposed to the public health insurance option in the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 ( HR 3200) until the bill was rewritten to send a $300,000,000 payment to Medicaid for her home state. When two pages were added to the bill to place $300,000,000 in Louisiana's Medicaid system, she changed her web page in order to reflect her support of the program.

On November 21, 2009 she voted with fifty-nine other Senators to bring the Health Care bill to the floor of the Senate for debate.

Prior to a concession of $300,000,000 being added to the bill, Landrieu responded to a question on popular support of the public option, and said the option has popular support because “when people hear ‘public option’ they hear ‘free health care.’ Everybody wants free health care. Everybody wants health care they don’t have to pay for.”

After Senator Harry Reid added the concession to the bill which sent $300,000,000 to Medicaid recipients in Louisiana, she described the bill as 'imperfect, but taking many steps to improve our broken health care system.'

She was supportive of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which places limits on taxpayer-funded abortions in the context of the November 2009 Affordable Health Care for America Act.

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina destroyed Landrieu's lakeside New Orleans home. The senator has become a national spokeswoman for victims of the hurricane, and has complained of "the staggering incompetence of the national government."

In the weeks following Katrina, Landrieu and fellow Senator David Vitter co-sponsored the Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief and Economic Recovery Act of 2005 (S.1765), a 440-page aid package worth an estimated $250 billion (roughly $550,000 per resident) in order to rebuild New Orleans, a city of 453,726 pre-Katrina. The bill was read twice by Congress, then referred to the United States Senate Committee on Finance.

Protect America Act

On August 3, 2007, Landrieu broke ranks with Democrats when she and Louisiana Rep. Charlie Melancon sided with Republicans and the Bush Administration in voting for the Protect America Act, an amendment to the USA Patriot Act further expanding wiretap powers.

Voyager reading program

Landrieu earmarked $2 million for a reading program whose founder supported her campaign for reelection. Randy Best, founder of the Voyager Expanded Learning literacy program, had hosted a fundraising event that raised $30,000 for Landrieu's reelection campaign days before she proposed his reading program in the earmark. Best and his company's his top associates were among those who donated to Landrieu's campaign. This earned her a spot on the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington advocacy group's "Top 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress" report.

In 2007, Landrieu was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfieldmarker.

Election history

United States Senate, 1996

Threshold > 50%

First ballot, September 21, 1996

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Woody Jenkins Republican 322,244 (26%) Runoff
Mary Landrieu Democratic 264,268 (22%) Runoff
Richard Ieyoub Democratic 250,682 (20%) Defeated
David Duke Republican 172,244 (12%) Defeated
Others n.a. 249,913 (20%) Defeated

Second ballot, November 5, 1996

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Mary Landrieu Democratic 852,945 (50%) Elected
Woody Jenkins Republican 847,157 (50%) Defeated

United States Senate, 2002

Threshold > 50%

First ballot, November 5, 2002

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Mary Landrieu Democratic 573,347 (46%) Runoff
Suzanne Haik Terrell Republican 339,506 (27%) Runoff
John Cooksey Republican 171,752 (14%) Defeated
Tony Perkins Republican 119,776 (10%) Defeated
Others n.a. 41,952 (3%) Defeated

Second ballot, December 7, 2002

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Mary Landrieu Democratic 638,654 (52%) Elected
Suzanne Haik Terrell Republican 596,642 (48%) Defeated

United States Senate, 2008

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Mary Landrieu Democratic 988,298 (52%) Reelected
John Neely Kennedy Republican 867,177 (46%) Defeated
Richard Fontenasi Libertarian 18,590 (1%) Defeated
Others n.a. 22,509 (1%) Defeated


  1. AP News Pronunciation Guide
  2. The American Conservative Union rated Senator Landrieu as 40% conservative in 2007, which was the highest score of any sitting Democrat and higher than the scores of two Republicans. [1]
  3. Senate faces abortion rights rift
  4. Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief and Economic Recovery Act

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