Rhea Sun Suh might not be a household name yet, but that hasn't dampened the hopes of Louisiana Republicans angling to make her a problem in a key Senate race.
Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the upper chamber, voted last week to confirm Suh as assistant secretary of fish, wildlife and parks in the Department of the Interior. Republicans looking to oust her hope to make that vote a liability.
Rick Wilson, a Florida-based national political consultant, says the attack ads write themselves. And Landrieu's move could potentially make her natural gas- and energy-industry donors a bit less enthusiastic.
“They’re going to have to make some very fast decisions here,” he says of donors in the industry. “Taking care of Mary Landrieu has now given them an opportunity to say, 'Hey, we’ve worked together in the past, we’ve taken care of you before, but now this?’ It lets them cover themselves.”
And Pelican State Republicans have been plenty loquacious about their opposition of Suh's confirmation. Five of the state's six House members are in the GOP, and they sent a letter to Sens. Landrieu and David Vitter, R-La., expressing their opposition.
“[W]e are concerned this nominee will promote policies that will negatively impact an industry that is vital to the economy of our state and one of the brightest spots of our otherwise slumping national economy,” they wrote.
Landrieu defended the vote in a statement released afterward.
“I recognize that Ms. Suh’s nomination has become controversial, and I certainly respect the views of those who oppose her nomination,” she said. “This position is not charged with overseeing energy production, but with overseeing fish, wildlife and parks. During her confirmation hearings, Ms. Suh repeatedly reiterated her support for natural gas production."
Suh has drawn criticism for her comments about natural gas development. And the campaign of Rep. Bill Cassidy, the Republican favored to be her challenger, released a statement shortly after the vote that probably indicates future lines of criticism.
“It turns out that Senator Landrieu isn't willing to stop supporting President Obama 97 percent of the time, even when that means hurting her state's economy," Cassidy said.