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By Evan Halper, Tribune Washington Bureau (MCT)

The closely contested race for Senate in Louisiana is headed for a runoff next month, after none of the candidates received a majority of the vote Tuesday, according to Associated Press projections.

It is a scenario Democratic incumbent Mary L. Landrieu had been hoping to avoid. Her best shot at holding on to the seat in this tough year for Democrats was an outright victory Tuesday. Polls show her facing difficult odds of surviving a runoff, when the GOP vote will no longer be split between two prominent candidates.

In next month’s runoff, Landrieu will face Rep. Bill Cassidy, who built his campaign around tying the moderate senator to the policies of President Barack Obama. Landrieu is one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, but her support of Obamacare has proved damaging to her re-election prospects in a state that is deeply skeptical of the president’s health plan. Landrieu is also up against some rapidly shifting demographics in the state. It is a far more conservative place than it was when she was first elected in 1996.

Photo: Jason Paris via Flickr

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