Nov 3, 2010 6:44 AM by Posted by Sharlee Barriere
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - His main opponent was a Democrat named
Charlie Melancon but Republican Sen. David Vitter campaigned just as strongly against President Barack Obama.
And, as it did for Republicans around the nation who gained control of the House and bolstered their numbers in the Senate, it worked.
Vitter won Tuesday's election by 19 percentage points over Melancon. Each of the 10 other candidates - independents or minor candidates - pulled 1 percent or less. This even though exit polls showed that more than half of those surveyed disapproved of Vitter.
At times the post-election speeches sounded a lot like the campaign, which often focused on national issues more than state concerns.
"I'll keep demanding that we come together and get this spiraling spending and debt under control so our kids have a future," Vitter said. He also called for "outright repeal of 'Obamacare."'
Melancon evoked the names of former Louisiana Democratic Sens. Russell Long, Bennett Johnson and John Breaux, and the current senior senator Mary Landrieu, holding them up as bipartisan moderates.
"I wanted the same tradition for this state," Melancon said. He lamented Vitter's apparent lawbreaking, exposed when phone records linked him to a Washington call girl ring in 2007, and said such behavior usually precludes serving in many public jobs.
Vitter, largely avoiding public appearances where reporters could question him about the prostitution ring, ran television ads touting his conservative record and labeling Melancon as a virtual rubber stamp for Obama, who lost the state to John McCain in 2008 and remains unpopular in Louisiana.
Melancon had voted for the 2009 Obama-backed economic stimulus package, defending it as a measure that staved off economic disaster and noting that it contained tax cuts. Vitter labeled it a failure that only added to huge government debt. Vitter also blasted Melancon on health care; Melancon voted against the Democrats' health care overhaul this year but refused to back a full repeal, which Vitter called for, because it contained some
elements popular with the public.
Tuesday's elections did nothing to chang the balance of party power in the Louisiana delegation. Although the Democrats regained the New Orleans-based 2nd Congressional seat when state Rep. Cedric Richmond defeated Republican Joseph Cao, Melancon's old 3rd District seat was won by Republican Jeff Landry.