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Democrat Landrieu keeps seat in Louisiana Senate runoff

Sen. Mary Landrieu at her victory party Saturday night.
Sen. Mary Landrieu at her victory party Saturday night.

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November 23, 1955 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; age 46; daughter of former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu and Verna Landrieu.
Education: Louisiana State University, BA, 1977
Party: Democrat
Political career: Louisiana State Representative, 1979-87; Louisiana State Treasurer, 1988-95; gubernatorial candidate, 1995; elected to U.S.Senate, 1997
Senate committees: Appropriations, Armed Services, Energy and Natural Resources, Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Married: Frank Snellings of Monroe, Louisiana. Two children.
Born: New Orleans, Louisiana; age, 48
Education: Newcomb College of Tulane University, B.A., 1976; Loyola University School of Law, J.D., 1984
Party: Republican
Political career: 1994-1999, New Orleans City Council; 2000, Louisiana Elections Commission
Married: Dr. Lee Terrell; three children.

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- Sen. Mary Landrieu gave her fellow Democrats a welcome bit of good news Saturday, keeping her seat by turning back a strong challenge from Republican Suzanne Haik Terrell in Louisiana's runoff election.

With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Landrieu had a lead of about 35,000 votes, and CNN projected that she will win the race.

Despite Landrieu's win, the GOP will still hold the majority in the next Senate, with 51 seats, compared to 48 Democrats and one independent. But Saturday's result dashed Republican hopes of adding another seat to their narrow majority -- and sending another Democratic incumbent packing.

Meanwhile, the outcome in the runoff in northeast Louisiana's 5th Congressional District was razor-thin, with Democrat Rodney Alexander ahead of Republican Lee Fletcher by just 518 votes, out of more than 170,000 cast, with all precincts reporting.

If Alexander's lead holds up, it would be a surprise in the GOP-leaning district. The seat is now held by Republican Rep. John Cooksey, who gave it up for an unsuccessful Senate bid.

The balance of power in the Senate was not at stake in the Landrieu-Terrell contest, as Republicans were already assured a majority on November 5. But GOP leaders pulled out all the stops for Terrell, the state elections commissioner. Last week, President Bush came to the state to campaign for her.

Landrieu, 47, is a former state treasurer and legislator and daughter of former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu.

Terrell, 48, a lawyer and former member of the New Orleans City Council, won the post of state elections commissioner in 1999. She was trying to become the first Republican senator elected in Louisiana since Reconstruction.

On November 5, Landrieu won 46 percent of the vote in a nine-person field, compared to 27 percent for Terrell, who finished second. But during the ensuing month of often heated campaigning, Terrell closed the gap.

Republican Suzanne Terrell concedes the election.
Republican Suzanne Terrell concedes the election.

In addition to President Bush, a parade of other Republicans came to Louisiana to stump for Terrell, including former President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, incoming Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi and Sen.-elect Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina.

But Landrieu, attempting to maintain her centrist image, did not bring prominent national Democrats in to campaign for her. She received her biggest help from Louisiana's other Democratic senator, John Breax, who is as popular as Bush among state voters.

CNN Congressional Correspondent Candy Crowley, Political Editor John Mercurio and Producer Kevin Flower contributed to this report.

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