When is a house a home?
That’s the question Sen. Mary Landrieu (La.) confronted this past week when The Washington Post’s Phil Rucker reported that the Democratic incumbent’s listed address in New Orleans is in fact her parents’ home. Landrieu lives, primarily, in Washington — in a $2.5 million house she and her husband, Frank Snellings, built on Capitol Hill in 2002.
In a statement on the story, Landrieu said that she has “lived at my home on Prieur Street most of my life and I live there now, when not fulfilling my duties in Washington or serving constituents across the state.” (The home is jointly owned by Landrieu’s mother, Verna, and a partnership that includes Landrieu and her eight siblings.) According to the state’s Election Code, a U.S. senator must be “an inhabitant of Louisiana when elected.”
Republicans immediately pounced on the report as evidence that Landrieu, who has been in the Senate since 1996, has lost touch with the state. “Senator Landrieu’s physical address is in Washington, D.C. but more importantly, she votes like a D.C. resident,” said a spokesman for Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy’s Senate campaign.
Residency issues have been a problem for senators seeking reelection over the past few years. Dick Lugar (R) lost a bid for renomination in Indiana, at least in part because of questions about whether he still really lived there. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) struggled in a primary this summer after the New York Times raised questions about how much time he actually spent in the Sunflower State.
It’s harder to imagine such a negative impact for Landrieu because of her family’s deep ties to Louisiana; her father, Moon, was a legendary mayor of New Orleans, and her brother Mitch currently holds that job.
Still, in a contested campaign in a Republican-leaning state, Landrieu needs everything to go right. And this ain’t that.
Mary Landrieu, for the plague on both your houses, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
Have a candidate for the worst week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at firstname.lastname@example.org.