Mary Loretta Landrieu (born November 23, 1955) is the senior United States Senator from the State of Louisiana, and is the second woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Louisiana. Landrieu is the daughter of former New Orleans mayor and Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Moon Landrieu and the sister of the current Mayor of New Orleans and former Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana Mitch Landrieu. By national standards, Landrieu is among the most conservative Democrats in the U.S. Senate, and is a member of the New Democrat Coalition.
Landrieu was born in Arlington, Virginia to Verna Satterlee and former New Orleans mayor Moon Landrieu, and raised in New Orleans. She was raised as a Roman Catholic and attended Ursuline Academy of New Orleans. She graduated from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in 1977 where she was a member of Delta Gamma sorority. Before entering politics, she worked as a real estate agent. She was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1980 to 1988, representing a New Orleans-based district. She then served as Louisiana state treasurer from 1988–1996, having succeeded the veteran officeholder, Mary Evelyn Parker. In the 1987 primary for treasurer, she defeated two legislative colleagues, Kevin P. Reilly, Sr., chief executive officer at the time of Lamar Advertising Company in Baton Rouge, and Claude "Buddy" Leach, a former U.S. representative and the current chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party. Landrieu gave up the treasurer's office to run for governor of Louisiana in 1995, but finished third in the state's jungle primary (which at that time was considered the actual election in Louisiana). The eventual winner was Democrat-turned-Republican Murphy J. "Mike" Foster, Jr. Landrieu and her husband, attorney Frank Snellings (born 1949), who grew up in Monroe, have two children, Connor and Mary Shannon. Her son Connor is currently an enrolled student at Tulane University in New Orleans.
Landrieu was elected in 1996 to the U.S. Senate seat previously held by John Bennett Johnston, Jr. of Shreveport after winning a close and controversial runoff election, called the general election in Louisiana, against Louisiana State Representative Woody Jenkins of Baton Rouge. She narrowly won re-election in the 2002 mid-term election. She defeated Suzanne Haik Terrell of New Orleans. Some experts and pundits had considered Landrieu as a possible running mate for presidential candidate John Kerry in the 2004 election before Kerry's selection of then- Senator John Edwards of North Carolina. With the departure of John Breaux from the Senate in December 2004, his seat being taken by Republican David Vitter, Landrieu became Louisiana's senior senator. She has made securing funding for Louisiana projects one of her top priorities as a US Senator. She has also held high profile hearings on the mistakes of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. In a break from her previous two close elections, she won a relatively comfortable 52% to 46% re-election to a third term on November 4, 2008, in a race against her challenger, Louisiana State Treasurer John Neely Kennedy, a former Democrat who switched to the Republican Party in 2007. On December 15, 2008, it was announced that Landrieu would become Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship for the 111th Congress when former Chairman John Kerry left to lead the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, previously headed by Vice President-elect Joe Biden. In September 2010 Landrieu she would hold up OMB director Jacob Lew’s confirmation until the administration lifts or eases a federal freeze on deepwater oil-and-gas drilling. The slowdown of Lew’s nomination comes despite broad bipartisan support for installing him at OMB. The Senate Budget Committee recommended that Lew be confirmed on a 22-1 vote.