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Mary Landrieu
Mary Landrieu Senate portrait.jpg
Official portrait, 2009
United States Senator
from Louisiana
In office
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 2015
Preceded by J. Bennett Johnston
Succeeded by Bill Cassidy
Chair of the Senate Energy Committee
In office
February 12, 2014 – January 3, 2015
Preceded by Ron Wyden
Succeeded by Lisa Murkowski
Chair of the Senate Small Business Committee
In office
January 3, 2009 – February 12, 2014
Preceded by John Kerry
Succeeded by Maria Cantwell
Treasurer of Louisiana
In office
January 1, 1988 – January 8, 1996
Governor Edwin Edwards (1988; 1992–1996)
Buddy Roemer (1988–1992)
Preceded by Mary Evelyn Parker
Succeeded by Ken Duncan
Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives
from the 90th district
In office
Preceded by Clyde F. Bel Jr.
Succeeded by Mitch Landrieu
Personal details
Mary Loretta Landrieu

(1955-11-23) November 23, 1955 (age 68)
Arlington, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Frank Snellings
(m. 1988)
Relations Mitch Landrieu (brother)
Children 2
Parent Moon Landrieu (father)
Education Louisiana State University (BA)

Mary Loretta Landrieu (/ˈlændr/ LAN-drew; born November 23, 1955) is an American entrepreneur and politician who served as a United States senator from Louisiana from 1997 to 2015. A member of the Democratic Party, Landrieu served as the Louisiana State Treasurer from 1988 to 1996, and in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1980 to 1988.

Born in Arlington, Virginia, Landrieu was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is the daughter of Moon Landrieu, former New Orleans mayor and secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the sister of Mitch Landrieu, a former mayor of New Orleans and Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana. She received her baccalaureate degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. She won a close race for the U.S. Senate in 1996; she was re-elected by increasing margins in competitive races in 2002 and 2008, but was defeated in 2014 by U.S. Representative Bill Cassidy.

Landrieu came to national attention in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 after she publicly criticized the federal response to the natural disaster. Her opposition to the public option played a major role in the crafting of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as she did not agree to support it until additional concessions were granted to support Louisiana's Medicaid system. In 2011, she became a cardinal (chair) of the Senate's Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. She chaired the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship from 2009 to 2014, and chaired the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources from 2014 to 2015.

Early life, education, and real estate career

Landrieu was born in Arlington, Virginia, the daughter of Verna (née Satterlee) and Moon Landrieu, who served as mayor of New Orleans. She is the sister of Mitch Landrieu, the former mayor of New Orleans and lieutenant governor of Louisiana. She was raised in New Orleans as a Catholic and attended Ursuline Academy of New Orleans. While a student at Ursuline, Landrieu participated in the Close Up Washington civic education program. She graduated from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in 1977, where she was a member of Delta Gamma sorority.

Before entering politics, Landrieu worked as a real estate agent. She is Italian on her mother's side, and her family was among the large wave of Sicilian immigrants that came to Louisiana during the nineteenth century. Her mother, Verna Satterlee Landrieu, was the daughter of Kent Satterlee and Olga Helen Macheca. Landrieu has been repeatedly highlighted by the Order Sons of Italy in America as the first woman of Italian-American heritage to become a US senator. Her paternal great-grandmother Cerentha Mackey was the illegitimate child of a mixed-race black woman and an unknown father.

Early political career

State legislature

Landrieu was first elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1979, serving from 1980 to 1988 and representing a New Orleans district. She was re-elected to the 90th district in October 1983 with 78% of the vote. In October 1987, she was succeeded in the 90th district by her brother Mitch.

On July 25, 1995, The Times-Picayune revealed that as a state representative, Landrieu awarded Tulane University tuition waivers to a former campaign manager.

State treasurer

On January 1, 1987, State Treasurer Mary Evelyn Parker, the longtime Democratic incumbent, resigned with nearly a year and a half left in her fifth term. Landrieu ran to succeed her in both the special and regularly scheduled elections, both held in October 1987. No Republican filed to run, so Landrieu faced only Democratic opponents. She came first on both ballots with 44%. She defeated two legislative colleagues, State Rep. Kevin P. Reilly, Sr., at the time chief executive officer of Lamar Advertising Company in Baton Rouge, who came second in the special and regular elections, with 33% and 32%, respectively, and State Rep. Claude "Buddy" Leach, a former U.S. Representative, who came third in both elections with 15%. Tom Burbank, son of Thomas D. Burbank Sr., former head of the state police, came in last in both elections with 9% of the vote. Reilly decided not to contest a runoff election, known in Louisiana as a "general election", and Landrieu won the treasurer's position by default. In 1991, Landrieu was unopposed for re-election.

1995 gubernatorial election

Landrieu declined to run for a third term as Treasurer, giving up the office to run for governor in the 1995 election. The other major candidates in the race were Democratic U.S. Representative Cleo Fields; State Senator Murphy J. Foster, Jr., who switched his party affiliation from Democratic to Republican when he filed; Democratic attorney Phil Preis; Republican former Governor Buddy Roemer; and Democratic Lieutenant Governor Melinda Schwegmann. Landrieu finished third in the state's nonpartisan blanket primary with 18% of the vote, finishing 8,983 votes behind Fields, who came second with 19% of the vote. Roemer came fourth with 18%, Preis was fifth with 9% and Schwegmann came sixth with 5%. Foster came first with 26% and went on to defeat Fields in the runoff with 64% of the vote. Landrieu was succeeded as state treasurer by her fellow Democrat Ken Duncan, a Baton Rouge attorney and businessman.

U.S. Senate


MaryLandrieu bookcase lg
Landrieu, during the 108th Congress as United States Senator from Louisiana

Landrieu was elected in 1996 to the U.S. Senate seat previously held by John Bennett Johnston, Jr. of Shreveport after winning a close and controversial runoff election. (The runoff election is what other states would call "the general election" of a federal seat.) She defeated state Representative Woody Jenkins of Baton Rouge. Landrieu narrowly won re-election in 2002. She defeated state Election Commissioner 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 he selected then- Senator John Edwards of North Carolina. In 2004 Landrieu became Louisiana's senior senator upon the retirement of John Breaux, who was replaced by Republican David Vitter.

In 2008, she won a relatively comfortable 52% to 46% re-election to a third term in a race against her challenger, state Treasurer John Neely Kennedy. He was a former Democrat who switched to the Republican Party in 2007.

Landrieu sought re-election in 2014. Former President Bill Clinton campaigned on her behalf in Louisiana. While Landrieu garnered 42% of the vote she fell short of the 50.1% required for re-election. She was defeated in the December 6, 2014, runoff election by her Republican opponent, Congressman Bill Cassidy, by a 56% to 44% margin.


In 2002, she voted for the Iraq Resolution, and in 2003, she issued a statement indicating that, "The time for diplomacy has ended." She voted for the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 and the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

In 2005, Landrieu sponsored a resolution, which the Senate passed in an unprecedented action, to formally apologize for its repeated failure in the early twentieth century to pass anti-lynching legislation. The Senate Southern white Democrats had filibustered the Dyer bill in 1922 and two other bills that passed the House. She held high-profile hearings on the mistakes of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Subsequent to the 2006 mid-term elections, 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.

Landrieu voted to raise the estate tax exemption to $5 million in 2008, but voted against repeal of the estate tax in 2006.

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 when former Chairman John Kerry left to lead the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, previously headed by Vice President-elect Joe Biden.

In September 2010, Landrieu announced she would hold up OMB director Jacob Lew’s confirmation until the administration lifted or eased a federal freeze on deepwater oil-and-gas drilling. Her delay of Lew's nomination came despite broad bipartisan support for appointing him to OMB. The Senate Budget Committee recommended that Lew be confirmed on a 22–1 vote.

According to The Washington Post, Landrieu "is one of the lawmakers leading for more natural gas exports".

On December 18, 2010, Landrieu voted in favor of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010. In 2011, she became chairman of the Senate's Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, giving her significant influence in the funding of federal agencies like the U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security and FEMA. On April 17, 2013, Landrieu voted to expand background checks for gun purchases.

In April 2014, the United States Senate debated the Minimum Wage Fairness Act (S. 1737; 113th Congress). The bill would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) to increase the federal minimum wage for employees to $10.10 per hour over the course of a two-year period. The bill was strongly supported by President Barack Obama and many of the Democratic senators, but strongly opposed by Republicans in the Senate and House. She wanted additional debate on the timeline and the raise for tipped workers. Landrieu said that "I do not believe that $10.10 an hour is too high to aspire to, but how quickly we get there and what increments, the tipped wage, how that should be handled, who should get paid the tipped wage, and who shouldn't. There are a lot of questions about that, and some of those discussions are going on."

Health care

Landrieu opposed 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 million in Louisiana's Medicaid system, she changed her web page in order to reflect her support of the program. Conservative figures referred to the deal as the "Louisiana Purchase". A typographical error in the bill resulted in $4.3 billion in additional funds for Medicaid for Louisiana. Days later, Sen. Landrieu took to the Senate floor to defend her vote by detailing the timeline of her Medicaid funding request. Landrieu noted her $300 million request was made before President Barack Obama was sworn into office.

Landrieu voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (known as "Obamacare") in December 2009. In September 2013, Landrieu voted to restore funding for the ACA that House Republicans had eliminated in their version of the funding bill.

In October 2013, Landrieu introduced a bill to force health insurance companies to re-issue plans which they have cancelled.

Hurricane Katrina

Sen. Landrieu (center) joins Women of the Storm from the Gulf Coast

In the weeks following Hurricane 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 The bill was read twice by Congress, then referred to the United States Senate Committee on Finance.

Separate legislation was passed to provide $1 billion in loans to communities affected by Katrina despite Landrieu's objection to the provision insisted on by Republicans that prohibited the loans from being forgiven. In 2007, when Democrats took control of the House and Senate, they passed legislation written by Landrieu that authorized FEMA to forgive the loans. However, 40% of the loans were not forgiven by FEMA, which led Landrieu to insert addition provisions into the 2013 federal spending bill to forgive the remainder of these loans.

Landrieu's national name recognition rose in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as she made multiple TV appearances to discuss the response effort. Landrieu was noted in The New York Times as becoming "a national spokeswoman for victims of the hurricane" as she complained of "the staggering incompetence of the national government." She was particularly critical of President George W. Bush, who, in turn, was critical of her in his 2010 memoir Decision Points, in which he related telling her to be quiet after she interrupted him in a meeting with what he called an "unproductive emotional outburst".

Judicial nominations

Landrieu voted for the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts in 2005, but in 2006, she opposed Samuel Alito; she voted in favor of cloture to send the nomination to an up-or-down vote. She voted for both Sonia Sotomayor in 2009 and Elena Kagan in 2010.


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.

In 2011, she was the inadvertent Senate sponsor of the four-year extension to the Patriot Act when Senator Reid amended a small business bill introduced by Landrieu as a means of avoiding a threatened filibuster by Senator Rand Paul. Landrieu joined the majority in voting for the extension, which passed 72–23.

Conservative activists convicted in failed sting attempt

On January 25, 2010, four Republican conservative activists, including Stan Dai, Joseph Basel, both 24; Robert Flanagan, son of Bill Flanagan, acting U.S. Attorney in Louisiana; and conservative filmmaker James O'Keefe, were arrested by US Marshals and subsequently charged with entering a federal facility under false pretenses for entering Landrieu's New Orleans office under the guise of being telephone repairmen. The crew intended to record their interactions with Landrieu's staff. Two of the activists posed as telephone repair technicians in order to gain access to the telephone system. O'Keefe admitted to secretly "recording" the interactions with the staff with his cell phone and aiding in the "planning, coordination, and preparation of the operation."

On March 27, 2010, the U.S. Attorney reduced the charges to entering federal property under false pretenses, a misdemeanor charge. On May 26, 2010, all four pleaded guilty before Magistrate Daniel Knowles III in a New Orleans federal court. Three of the four received two years' probation, 75 hours of community service and $1,500 fines; while James O'Keefe received a sentence of three years' probation, 100 hours of community service and a $1,500 fine.

Committee assignments

  • Committee on Appropriations
    • Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
    • Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government
    • Subcommittee on Homeland Security (Chair)
    • Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans' Affairs, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
  • Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (Chair)
  • Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
    • Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia
    • Ad Hoc Subcommittee on State, Local, and Private Sector Preparedness and Integration
    • Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery (Chair)
  • Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Caucus memberships

  • Senate Oceans Caucus
  • Senate Natural Gas Caucus, co-chair
  • Congressional Coalition on Adoption, co-chair
  • Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, co-chair

Political positions

Mary Landrieu DNC 2008
Landrieu speaks during the second day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

Landrieu was one of the more conservative Democrats in the U.S. Senate. The American Conservative Union rated Landrieu as 40% conservative in 2007, which was the highest score of any sitting Democrat and higher than the scores of two Republicans. As of 2012, her lifetime rating is 21%, which is the fourth highest rating among Democrats in the Senate. For 2012 votes, National Journal ranked Landrieu as the 47th-most conservative member of the Senate, while the Times-Picayune found that she voted in support of President Obama's positions 97% of the time.


Landrieu voted to confirm Gina McCarthy as the administrator of the EPA Landrieu supports the Keystone Pipeline and has called for President Obama to approve its construction.

Internet sales tax

Landrieu voted in favor of an Internet sales tax.

Affordable Care Act

Landrieu voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as "Obamacare". But she withheld her vote until she had secured what is now referred to as the "Louisiana Purchase" originally for up to $300,000,000 in additional Medicaid funds to Louisiana, which, due to a typographical error in the healthcare bill, became an additional $4.3 billion for Louisiana's Medicaid program. When asked by reporters in 2013, Sen. Landrieu said that she would vote for it again if she were given a chance.

Same-sex marriage

Landrieu personally supports same-sex marriage, but defended the state's constitutional ban on the grounds that a majority of Louisianans voted for it.

Personal life

Landrieu and her husband, attorney Frank Snellings, have two children, Connor and Mary Shannon, and one grandson, Maddox. In December 2014 Frank was the subject of an article in The Irish Times, having rediscovered his Irish family 44 years after he was adopted in Ireland by the Snellings family from Louisiana.

Electoral history

1995 gubernatorial election

LAGovElection Oct95
Parishes won by gubernatorial candidates in the October 21, 1995, jungle primary.      Mike Foster (38)      Cleo Fields (18)      Buddy Roemer (4)      Mary Landrieu (2)      Phil Preis (2)
Louisiana gubernatorial election jungle primary, 1995
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Foster 385,267 26.10
Democratic Cleo Fields 280,921 19.03
Democratic Mary Landrieu 271,938 18.43
Republican Buddy Roemer 263,330 17.84
Democratic Phil Preis 133,271 9.03
Democratic Melinda Schwegmann 71,288 4.83
Democratic Robert Adley 27,534 1.87
Independent Arthur D. "Jim" Nichols 16,616 1.13
Democratic Gene H. Alexander 5,688 0.39
Independent Kenneth Woods 4,964 0.34
Independent Darryl Paul Ward 4,210 0.29
Democratic Belinda Alexandrenko 3,161 0.21
Independent Lonnie Creech 2,338 0.16
Independent Ronnie Glynn Johnson 1,884 0.13
Independent Anne Thompson 1,416 0.1
Total votes 1,473,826 100

1996 Senate election

Parishes won by Senate candidates in the November 5, 1996, runoff.      Mary Landrieu      Woody Jenkins
Louisiana United States Senate jungle primary election, September 21, 1996
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Woody Jenkins 322,244 26.23
Democratic Mary Landrieu 264,268 21.51
Democratic Richard Ieyoub 250,682 20.41
Republican David Duke 141,489 11.52
Republican Jimmy Hayes 71,699 5.84
Republican Bill Linder 58,243 4.74
Republican Chuck McMains 45,164 3.68
Republican Peggy Wilson 31,877 2.6
Democratic Troyce Guice 15,277 1.24
Independent Nicholas J. Accardo 10,035 0.82
Independent Arthur D. "Jim" Nichols 7,894 0.64
Democratic Sadie Roberts-Joseph 4,660 0.38
Independent Tom Kirk 1,987 0.16
Independent Darryl Paul Ward 1,770 0.14
Independent Sam Houston Melton, Jr. 1,270 0.1
Turnout 1,228,559
Louisiana United States Senate election runoff, November 5, 1996
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Mary Landrieu 852,945 50.17 -3.78
Republican Woody Jenkins 847,157 49.83 +6.35
Majority 5788 0.34 -10.13
Turnout 1,700,102
Democratic hold

2002 Senate election

Parishes won by Senate candidates in the December 7, 2002, runoff.      Mary Landrieu      Suzanne Haik Terrell
Louisiana United States Senate jungle primary election, November 5, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Mary Landrieu (Incumbent) 573,347 46.00
Republican Suzanne Haik Terrell 339,506 27.24
Republican John Cooksey 171,752 13.78
Republican Tony Perkins 119,776 9.61
Democratic Raymond Brown 23,553 1.89
Independent Patrick E. "Live Wire" Landry 10,442 0.84
Independent James Lemann 3,866 0.31
Libertarian Gary D. Robbins 2,423 0.19
Republican Ernest Edward Skillman, Jr. 1,668 0.13
Turnout 1,246,333
2008 United States Senate election in Louisiana results map by parish
Parishes won by Senate candidates in the November 4, 2008, general election.      Mary Landrieu      John Neely Kennedy
Louisiana United States Senate election runoff, December 7, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Mary Landrieu (Incumbent) 638,654 51.70 +1.53
Republican Suzanne Haik Terrell 596,642 48.30 -1.53
Majority 42,012 3.4 +3.06
Turnout 1,235,296
Democratic hold

2008 Senate election

Louisiana United States Senate general election, November 5, 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Mary Landrieu (Incumbent) 988,298 52.11 +0.41
Republican John Neely Kennedy 867,177 45.72 -2.58
Libertarian Richard Fontanesi 18,590 0.98 n/a
Independent Jay Patel 13,729 0.72 n/a
Independent Robert Stewart 8,780 0.46 n/a
Majority 121,121 6.39 +2.99
Turnout 1,896,574
Democratic hold

2014 Senate election

Bill Cassidy ran for the Senate in 2014 against three term incumbent Mary Landrieu. Cassidy was endorsed by Republican Senator David Vitter. Cassidy defeated Landrieu in the run-off election held on December 6, 2014, winning 56% of the vote while Landrieu received 44% of the vote. Cassidy thus became the first Republican to occupy the seat since William P. Kellogg left it in 1883.

2014 United States Senate election in Louisiana results map by parish
Jungle primary results by parish
United States Senate election jungle primary in Louisiana, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mary Landrieu (Incumbent) 619,402 42.08
Republican Bill Cassidy 603,048 40.97
Republican Rob Maness 202,556 13.76
Republican Thomas Clements 14,173 0.96
Libertarian Brannon McMorris 13,034 0.89
Democratic Wayne Ables 11,323 0.77
Democratic William Waymire 4,673 0.32
Democratic Vallian Senegal 3,835 0.26
Total votes 1,473,826 100
2014 United States Senate runoff election in Louisiana results map by parish
Runoff results by parish
United States Senate election runoff in Louisiana, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Bill Cassidy 712,379 55.93%
Democratic Mary Landrieu (Incumbent) 561,210 44.07%
Total votes 1,273,589 100.00%
Republican gain from Democratic

Post-Senate career

Landrieu is a Senior Policy Advisor for Van Ness Feldman, a DC Law Firm. She became a strategic adviser to the Walton Family Foundation in April 2015. Landrieu is also a member of the pro-Israel group American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

In December 2018, Landrieu and a bipartisan group of former U.S. senators co-authored an opinion piece in The Washington Post urging the Senate to protect the Special Counsel Investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

See also

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