NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - The Louisiana Republican seeking to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu in a runoff has been promised a seat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee if he wins, the Senate Republican leader said on Wednesday.
Republican Representative Bill Cassidy is challenging Landrieu, a three-term incumbent who made her position as the committee’s chairwoman a cornerstone of her campaign.
She will relinquish that post regardless of the outcome of the Dec. 6 runoff, after Senate Democrats lost their majority to Republicans in last week’s elections. The announcement by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell could further undercut one of her campaign’s key talking points.
“I’m excited to announce that when elected, Dr. Cassidy will be a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee,” McConnell, of Kentucky, said in a statement provided by the Cassidy campaign. “I’m confident Dr. Cassidy will use this position to succeed where Senator Landrieu failed.”
Landrieu has campaigned heavily on her clout in Washington and her support for the oil and gas industry, a position at odds with that of many in her party.
Republicans have countered that Cassidy will do more than Landrieu to push back against Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
Senate Republicans have also announced plans to introduce a bill early next year to approve the contentious and long-stalled Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.
Landrieu, who secured 43 percent of the vote in the election last week compared with 42 percent for Cassidy, is seen as having a difficult path to re-election. Most of the 14 percent of voters who backed Rob Maness, a Tea Party-backed Republican, are now likely to favor Cassidy, who Maness has since endorsed.
Landrieu’s campaign did not immediately offer a response to the Republicans’ announcement but cited her record in favor of offshore oil drilling.
Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky; Editing by Mohammad Zargham