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BAYHAM: Boustany, Landry Fight For Heart of Acadiana, GOP


“This election is about the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” said US Representative Jeff Landry on the Sean Hannity’s radio program days away from his runoff with fellow Louisiana Republican Congressman Charles Boustany.

The two southwest Louisiana GOP legislators were forced into a clash after the state lost its second seat in Congress in the past three census-driven apportionments and Governor Bobby Jindal vowed to veto redistricting legislation that did not give north Louisiana two congressional seats.

Landry is in his first term on Capitol Hill after upsetting the party establishment in 2010 by handily defeating the heavy favorite, former State House of Representatives Speaker Hunt Downer, in Louisiana’s last congressional party primary election and easily trouncing the Democratic nominee in the general election.

Since coming to Congress, Landry has been a vocal advocate of the TEA Party agenda and a high profile critic of President Obama, particularly concerning his administration’s hostility to offshore oil drilling.

A retired heart surgeon, Boustany is in his fourth term in Congress and became the first Republican to win the Acadiana-centered Seventh District after numerous attempts by other GOP candidates when he defeated Democratic state senator and ex-Lake Charles mayor Willie Mount in 2004.

Despite technically being the incumbent congressman in the Third District, Landry is very much the challenger as his opponent has more money (by an almost 2-1 margin), political support and familiar geography.

The election may have been largely decided the year before during legislative reapportionment as the redrawn map mostly contains parishes from Boustany’s contracted Seventh District, including the large population centers of Lafayette and Calcasieu.

Recognizing the difficulty of taking on the more established Boustany on his “home swamp”, Landry had pushed for the creation of a single coastal Louisiana district though that prospect was unlikely between opposition from the Fourth Flour and north Louisiana legislators.

Boustany is a close ally of Speaker of the House John Boehner, who tapped the Louisiana physician/legislator to deliver the response to President Obama’s nationally televised address to Congress on health care.

And while Boustany won’t be mistaken for departing moderate Maine US Senator Olympia Snowe, the Lafayette doctor’s victory will be interpreted by outside media unfamiliar with the details of the race and the district as a major defeat for the TEA Party.

With the approach of the so-called Fiscal Cliff, the Republican House leadership has removed (or purged) TEA Party-aligned representatives from budget and finance congressional committees without stated reasons though the action has been interpreted by conservative activists as a warning shot to other members of the GOP caucus considering not going along with a last minute compromise with President Barack Obama on the eve of drastic automatic spending cuts and tax increases.

Landry’s departure from Washington would be seen as another blow to staunch conservative representatives, hence the freshman congressman’s comments about the election’s implications going far beyond Cajun country and the state.

December runoffs can be unpredictable in Louisiana. Four years ago, a post-presidential election congressional contest resulted in the victory of a Vietnamese-American Republican in the majority-black, heavily Democratic Second District.

Turnout will be critical for both candidates though Boustany has a big advantage.

After an acrimonious primary where the two leading candidates exchanged heated barbs, Boustany and Landry have mainly focused on selling themselves in the second round.

Boustany’s voter pool, which includes Democrats more inclined to vote for the more mainstream of two Republicans, is far larger than Landry’s. In the primary, Boustany carried seven of the district’s ten parishes.

That said, the tenacious Landry can’t be written off.

The Iberia lawyer scored a major upset to get into Congress and has his own influential supporters, including departing South Carolina US Senator Jim DeMint, one of the modern conservative movement’s leading figures, and the Family Research Council, a prominent social conservative organization.

While Boustany has been relatively secure in his office since winning eight years ago, Landry hasn’t taken a break from campaign mode since 2010.

Though not a majority of the district, social conservatives and TEA Party activists might be motivated to send a message the White House and especially to the national GOP leadership that they, like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, will not be ignored by showing up for Landry in big numbers in a low-turnout election.


6 Comments

  1. Kermit Hoffpauir says:

    Landry's "voting pool" voted for Melancon over Vitter. Boustany's voted for Vitter overwhelmingly. Now whose "pool" is more conservative?

    As far as Tea Party that is only because Landry has touted his TP endorsement from 2010, which he paid a few officers of the Tea Party of Louisiana as consultants. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

    You don't know very much about SW Louisiana by only noting that it is more "Democrat" as those are traditionally and still are very conservative registered voters who just happen to be registered Democrat in order to be able to vote in local races. I'd put just about any of those sheriffs and mayors from the area as being more conservative than elected officials in New Orleans or Baton Rouge who are registered Republicans.

    I guess that you were completely unaware of the fiscal status of the City of Lake Charles which when Hurricane Rita hit, was able to gobble up mobile assets before the storm and had $27 million in the bank as a reserve fund from which to recover. Name another city in the state with this kind of fiscal sanity. Can you? Oh, and this was begun under a Democrat mayor, Willie Mount and continued by Randy Roach, while at the same time completely rebuilding the city utility infrastructure (roads and water system).

    Now you make the claim "Heart of Acadiana" which is not entirely true, since a large chunk of the voters are in Calcasieu Parish which ain't exactly been longtime Cajun country. It was a wood cutter/sawmill town 100 years ago, where the largest sawmill in the South existed on northeastern shore of Lake Charles (the lake) and the material to rebuild Galveston after it was devastated by the early 20th Century unnamed hurricane. Cajun descendents came to the area during WWII to work in the refineries and chemical plants built for the war effort.

  2. Joshua Delano says:

    If Boustany's liberal and black vote doesn't turn out for him in the traditionally low-turnout for these runoffs, it could spell disaster for him and victory for Landry. In these Saturday Louisiana run-offs, it could go either way.

    • Kermit Hoffpauir says:

      If Louisiana based actual independent oil companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico had their way, Landry would have been dead last in the primary.

    • Kermit Hoffpauir says:

      Boustany carried all of the parishes in which Vitter crushed Melancon, except for Iberia. Landry carried all of the parishes in which Melancon beat/crushed Vitter.

  3. 2.5 Million Dollars of mental m^sterbation….

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