Battle for the senate: round two


Emily Branan, Religion Editor

As the battle for the hotly contested Louisiana Senate seat comes to an end, Senator Mary Landrieu and Congressman Bill Cassidy are both said to be the best choice for university students.

When voters head back to the polls for the runoff election, the winner of the Louisiana Senate seat will impact college students in Louisiana and around the country.

Incumbent Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy will face off once again on Dec. 6, each arguing that they are the best candidate to represent the concerns facing all voters.

Landrieu said in an email that she is committed to helping college students be better able to afford college and has worked toward that goal in her previous terms as senator.

“I have dedicated much of my work in the Senate to helping college students attend and graduate college without huge sums of debt,” Landrieu said.

Landrieu said Cassidy voted to cut Pell Grants, financial aid she sees as vital to students.

She introduced her Passport to the Middle Class initiative this year to double the highest award of the Pell Grant and lessen student loan debt. If passed, students would also be able to join homeowners and businesses in receiving low interest rates on their loans.

“In Louisiana, there are 60,000 individuals with an average student loan debt of $22,000,” Landrieu said. “My initiative would save the average Louisiana student loan borrower $8,000 over the life of their loan.”

Kirstin Alvanitakis, communications director for the Louisiana Democratic Party, said she believes the senator has been and will be an asset for college students.

“Her re-election will mean Louisiana college students have someone fighting for them in the U.S. Senate, someone who will always stand up for them no matter what political party is in control or who is in the White House,” Alvanitakis said.

For Alvanitakis, Landrieu’s legislation is also important because Landrieu was instrumental in helping the state after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita by sending more than $50 billion to help rebuild.

Kelly Coyle, assistant staff writer for the Congress Project and Ballotpedia, said that Cassidy is also concerned with helping students.

Coyle said that Cassidy helped introduce the Truth in Tuition Act of 2013. The act would require universities to give students either a multi-year tuition schedule or an estimate of how much their schooling would cost after financial aid.

Raffi Williams, deputy press secretary for the Republican National Committee, said he sees Cassidy as the “definite better choice”.

Williams said one of Cassidy’s main concerns is creating jobs, something from which many recent graduates would benefit.

“Cassidy will make the American dream possible for our generation,” Williams said.

Coyle said that Cassidy addressed his concerns towards college students in a debate for the primary election, stating he is also concerned with creating higher-paying jobs for graduates.

“In the Oct. 15 debate, Cassidy blamed the economy for college students being unable to pay off their student loans,” Coyle said.

Williams said this is an important election for Louisiana. He said he believes it will give the state the opportunity to confront Obama on his policies, especially economic ones.

“This is really an election to enhance Louisiana’s standing in the Senate,” Williams said.