By Congressional Quarterly
Northup managed an upset in a year that generally favored Democrats and in a state that voted to re-elect President Clinton. Northup defeated Democratic freshman Rep. Mike Ward, who defied the odds in 1994 by narrowly winning election in a strong Republican year. Ward was one of only three Democratic incumbents to be ousted in 1996.
As a reward, Northup was given a coveted seat on the Appropriations Committee -- a rare assignment for a freshman. From this panel, Northup will be in a good position to achieve one of her parochial goals: securing federal funding to build a new bridge over the Ohio River, a subject of extensive local debate and planning in Louisville.
Northup says her top priority is to fulfill her pledges to make government smaller, turn control over more programs to the local level and cut taxes. In "everything I do, I'm not going to forget those promises," she says.
Northup says she wants to bring a "family ethic" to Washington's policy debates. The mother of six children -- two of whom are adopted -- and a state representative for the past nine years, Northup says Congress often resorts to "number crunching" while failing to understand how spending decisions affect everyday working conditions.
This is one reason Northup says Congress, as part of its effort to implement the welfare reform plan approved in August 1996, needs to spare as much money as possible to assist welfare recipients with young children who want to get jobs.
Northup says she is concerned about the regulatory burden on small businesses in particular, adding that many of the most passionate people she met on the campaign trail were struggling entrepreneurs. Northup plans to work on small-business legislation to provide regulatory relief and reduce the costs of starting a company.
She also supports providing a $500-per-child tax credit and reducing the capital gains tax, a move she says is a necessary incentive for businesses to expand and help create jobs.
In launching her bid against Ward, Northup was not saddled with a problem that plagued the 1994 Republican nominee, Susan B. Stokes, who was defeated by fewer than 500 votes.
An abortion rights supporter, Stokes was hampered by a third- party candidate, Richard Lewis, who ran as the only abortion opponent in the race. Northup opposes abortion and had the backing of some of the same religious conservatives who supported Lewis' 1994 campaign.
An independent poll published in midsummer showed Northup trailing Ward by more than 30 points. But she surpassed Ward in fundraising and began running television ads in late August to boost her name identification.
Northup vociferously attacked Ward as being out of step with the district on a variety of issues. After blasting Ward all year long for opposing Republican legislation to overhaul welfare programs, she claimed that his support for the final version of the legislation, backed by the Clinton White House, was one of the incumbent's many election-year conversions.
She also criticized his opposition to legislation making English the nation's official language. And a third barb accused Ward of being weak on crime for opposing legislation linking prison construction money for states to requirements that prisoners serve virtually all of their sentences. The Northup campaign also tried to tar Ward over his fundraising efforts for his 1994 race against Stokes.
Ward fought back, attempting to paint Northup as a potential pawn of House Speaker Newt Gingrich and saying that she would back his plans to reduce the rate of growth for Medicare spending.
But while she takes a conservative view on most issues, Northup has shown an independent streak in the past. Even though tobacco is a key component of Kentucky's economy, Northup led an effort in the state legislature to impose stricter laws against the sale of tobacco to children.
© 1997, Congressional Quarterly Inc. All rights reserved.
Louisiana - Senate
Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.)
Born: Nov. 23, 1955, Arlington, Va.
Education: Louisiana State U., B.A. 1977.
Occupation: Real estate agent.
Family: Husband, Frank E. Snellings; one child.
Religion: Roman Catholic.
Political Career: La. House, 1980-88; La. treasurer, 1988-96; candidate for governor, 1995.
By Congressional Quarterly
When Landrieu decided to jump into the Louisiana political gumbo, she already had the benefit of a family name well-known in Pelican State politics. Her father, Moon Landrieu, was both mayor of New Orleans and secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Carter administration.
It didn't take her long to build a name for herself. She acquired a reputation as a political reformer while serving as a state legislator and later as state treasurer. She comes to the Senate from the "new Democrat" wing of her party, and in her bid for the Senate, she embraced the centrist politics espoused by President Clinton in his two presidential elections.
Landrieu's top priority in the Senate will be education. She says she will fight for full funding of Head Start. She also says she would like to see the federal government help put more computers into classrooms and make college more affordable by providing tax credits for middle-class families to help pay for tuition.
On taxes generally, she favors a $10,000-per-year deduction for education expenses and some reduction in capital gains taxes as long it fits within budget constraints.
Landrieu was a strong supporter of the minimum wage increase enacted last summer. But she says she also would like to see better enforcement of laws guaranteeing equal pay for women and increased access to job training programs. Even though more jobs for skilled people have become available in Louisiana, many individuals do not have the skills to fill those jobs, she says.
Landrieu was given a seat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, a panel on which her predecessor, J. Bennett Johnston, who retired, served as the ranking Democrat. With upcoming efforts to deregulate the utility industries, as a member of that panel she says she will be concerned with protecting Louisiana's interests, which include the state's large oil and gas industry as well as its energy consumers. In addition, she plans to play a strong role in balancing the concerns of industry with that of environmentalists, given the support she has received from both groups.
As a member of the Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry Committee, she plans to promote a research and technology partnership between the private sector and the federal government to help the state's farmers. She also landed a seat on the Small Business Committee.
Her political road to victory in recent years did not come without some bumps. Her bid for governor in 1995 was derailed in the primary by Democratic Rep. Cleo Fields, who ultimately lost to Republican Mike Foster.
In her 1996 Senate bid, Landrieu had to battle Democratic Attorney General Richard Ieyoub, who had wrapped up the support of many of the state's black leaders, including Fields.
Early on, it appeared as if she and Ieyoub would end up in an Election Day runoff, given that six Republicans had jumped into the all-party primary and none appeared to be making any movement in the polls.
But after GOP leaders rallied around his candidacy, Republican state Rep. Woody Jenkins managed to break out of the pack a few weeks before the state's primary.
Landrieu ended up barely eking out a second-place finish over Ieyoub to earn a spot in the runoff with Jenkins, who surprised many political observers by emerging in first place. But even her second place finish was not assured until the closing weeks of the race when Ieyoub's campaign hit a snag following news reports that he had used campaign funds for items such as clothing and improvements to his home.
Still, there was much speculation that she would have trouble uniting African-Americans around her bid against Jenkins. Relations between Landrieu and Fields, an influential leader in the state's black community, were strained after she refused to endorse his bid for governor against Foster. After much pressure from many state and national Democrats, Fields eventually endorsed her Senate bid.
Landrieu portrayed herself in her Senate campaign as a fighter for the middle class and working poor. At the same time, she attempted to cast Jenkins as a right-wing extremist. She also was critical of his proposal to abolish the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and replace the current tax system with a consumption tax collected by the states. In particular, Landrieu questioned his motives for such a proposal after news reports revealed that the IRS in recent years had placed several liens on his business, Great Oaks Broadcasting, saying he failed to pay taxes on time.
Jenkins, meanwhile, tried to portray Landrieu as a tax-and-spend liberal. He also criticized Landrieu for helping to win parole for a convicted killer.
In addition, Jenkins and others, including the retired Roman Catholic archbishop of New Orleans, attacked Landrieu for her support of abortion rights. Jenkins, who had been a leading opponent of abortion in the state Legislature, said her stand on abortion was out of step with the rest of the state, which has a significant Catholic population and many evangelical Protestants who oppose abortion. Landrieu moderated her stand somewhat by supporting a ban on certain late-term abortions.
Despite the attacks, Landrieu emerged with a narrow victory. Jenkins, however, refused to concede.
He claimed that massive voter fraud and voting irregularities occurred. He initially filed a lawsuit contesting the election's outcome but dropped it after a state judge ordered him to produce specific evidence to back up his allegations.
Jenkins said he was not given enough time and cooperation to gather the evidence he needed, and he appealed to the Senate to investigate his charges. Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., agreed to look into his allegations but said he would seat Landrieu without prejudice. The Senate Rules Committee has hired two lawyers to investigate the case.
© 1997, Congressional Quarterly Inc. All rights reserved.
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