Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

La. House Race Still to be Decided

In Election Analysis, House on November 20, 2012 at 11:01 am

Rep. Charles Boustany

All but one of the 2012 US House races have been called and further legal challenges and recounts in at least two districts notwithstanding, a group of 234 Republicans and 201 Democrats will take the oath of office on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013. Though we know the partisan count, the identity of the 234th Republican member is still undetermined. The election cycle’s final campaign will feature Louisiana GOP Reps. Charles Boustany (R-LA-7) and Jeff Landry (R-LA-3) vying for the right to represent the state’s new 3rd District on Dec. 8.

Under Louisiana election law, the state’s primary date is scheduled concurrently with the national general election day, meaning that Bayou State voters went to the polls for the first time just this past Nov. 6th. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in what is commonly called the jungle primary, then a run-off election between the top two finishers, regardless of political party affiliation, is held at a later date. California and Washington also use this system, but Louisiana is the only one that holds their primary concurrently with the general election. Because they choose this electoral method, the state’s voters can elect a candidate outright without a second election. In the other jungle primary states, candidates must advance to the run-off election regardless of the percentage received.

Due to national growth patterns and after-effects of the devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Louisiana failed to keep all seven of its congressional districts in reapportionment. Therefore, two members would inevitably be forced into a pairing. The legislature placed veteran Rep. Boustany, elected in 2004, and freshman Landry together in a new southern district. The new seat heavily favors Boustany, because he currently represents 76 percent of the territory and his home base of Lafayette is included whole. Landry sees only 24 percent of his current 3rd District constituency carry over to the new LA-3.

In terms of campaign funding, the two will undoubtedly raise and spend more than $5 million combined. So far, Boustany has obtained just under $3 million, spending $2.64 million and retaining $917,612 for the period beginning October 18th. Landry raised $1.832 million, already spent $1.194 million and had $638,316 in the bank at the close of the Oct. 17 pre-general election reporting period.

Though the outcome will not change the House’s new partisan division, the final result will still be interesting. The pairing is clearly designed for Boustany to win — and he placed first in the Nov. 6 primary election garnering 45-30 percent, a margin of 45,589 votes. But strange things often happen in run-offs. Landry enjoys strong support among the Tea Party activists of southern Louisiana, but exactly what impact they will have in what promises to be a low-turnout election remains unknown.

In another boost for Rep. Boustany occurring just yesterday, the primary’s third place finisher, Democrat Ron Richard who recorded 21.5 percent (67,058 votes), publicly threw his support behind the veteran congressman.

After a winner is declared here on Dec. 8, the new 2014 election cycle will officially begin.

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