01:27 - Source: CNN
Louisiana Senate race will go to a runoff

Story highlights

With no candidate reaching the required 50% threshold, the Senate race is headed for a Dec. runoff

Sen. Mary Landrieu will face off against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy

Tuesday's race was a "jungle primary" where candidates from both parties slug it out together

Washington CNN —  

Louisiana won’t know which candidate will represent the state in the next Congress until December.

Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy will face off in a December runoff, CNN projects.

The two candidates also faced off against another Republican, tea party-backed Col. Rob Maness (ret.) in Louisiana’s “jungle primary” system.

The system gave candidates from both parties a chance to slug it out together instead of settling on a nominee in the summer like most states. But one candidate has to hit 50% of the vote to avoid a December runoff.

The polls have favored a runoff for weeks now, with the No. 3 candidate Maness pulling enough votes from the right to keep Cassidy neck-and-neck with Landrieu and below the 50% threshold.

Landrieu’s rough fight for re-election came amid sagging approval for President Barack Obama in the state, where only 40% of Louisiana voters approved of Obama according to a CNN/ORC poll.

The three-term incumbent even tied Obama’s unpopularity in the state to racism in the South last week.

“I’ll be very, very honest with you. The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans,” Landrieu told NBC News’ Chuck Todd, while also citing Obama’s moratorium on off-shore drilling and energy issues as the “number one” issue for why Louisianans do not like the president. “It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader.”

And while Cassidy hammered Landrieu over those comments, he faced heat over racially-tinged remarks in September when he said Harry Reid “runs the Senate like a plantation.”

Like many other Democrats with tough reelection challenges, Landrieu has kept Obama at arm’s length and has sought to deflect Republican attacks tying her to the President.

Landrieu has also faced attacks from her Republican opponents over her reputation as one of the Senate’s most frequent flyers – billing the federal government more than $47,000 in flights in 2013 alone.

And in September, Landrieu’s campaign reimbursed the federal government more than $33,000 in flights that should have been billed to her Senate office.

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