NEW ORLEANS—Helena Young stands outside of New Orleans City Hall on a warm fall day, recalling how, nine years earlier, she had pleaded with her mother to listen to officials' warnings to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Katrina. This was the lethal storm that haunted Young's dreams, and she was leaving with or without her mom.
When Young returned, she heard her mother's story of survival in the New Orleans Superdome. And she found a hurricane-ravaged New Orleans that, she says, looked like a scene from the post-apocalyptic drama The Walking Dead.
Many New Orleans residents are like Young. They remember Hurricane Katrina's 175-mph winds pummeling the Gulf Coast. And when asked which candidate they support in this year's high-stakes Senate contest, they say Sen. Mary Landrieu, because she was there for New Orleans residents when they needed her most.
But outside the most populous city in Louisiana, the story is different. The race between Landrieu, Rep. Bill Cassidy, and retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness isn't just about what the incumbent has done in the state, but also about Washington's dysfunction and President Obama's policies.
The Landrieu name seems to hold more clout in New Orleans, where the city's mayor is her brother, than arguably anywhere else in the state. John Couvillon, CEO of JMC Analytics and Polling, calls it the Landrieu "halo effect." In part, this is because she was a highly visible figure in the post-Katrina haze, he says, fighting to resurrect the wrecked city.