O f Louisiana’s seven U.S. House congressmen, only U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, and Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, are having an entertaining election cycle.
This is, of course, because they are running against each other in the redrawn 3rd Congressional District. Louisiana is losing a House seat because of slow population growth.
Boustany and Landry have already combined to spend more than $3 million prior to the Nov. 6 open primary election.
But Louisiana’s other five congressmen are largely sitting on their campaign war chests because none of them have opponents who are spending significant amounts of money. That promises to change with the next election cycle in 2014 when some of them likely decide to take aim at U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and that vulnerable “D” that comes after her name in this increasingly redder state.
Leading the list of potential contenders is U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy who already has a massive $2 million in campaign funds saved up — he added more than $275,000 to it the past three months — all of which is being stored for a possible 2014 challenge to Landrieu.
For comparison’s sake, Landrieu has more than $1.6 million in campaign cash having raked in nearly $200,000 the last three months, according to Federal Election Commission reports released last week.
Kirby Goidel, a political analyst and director of the LSU Public Policy Research Lab, said Cassidy has to be seen as the top Republican opponent to Landrieu thus far “just because of the money situation.”
Win or lose his race this year, Landry could also look at the 2014 Senate race, as might U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden. Fleming has more than $500,000 in campaign funds and he is a multimillionaire independently who could always partially self-finance his campaign, if necessary.
If Boustany wins, he says he is primarily focused on rising to power in the U.S. House on the powerful Ways and Means Committee. Likewise, U.S. reps. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, and Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, also say they hope to gain more influence in the House. Scalise is in line to possibly be chairman of the House’s Republican Study Committee.
The wild card for 2014 is what term-limited Gov. Bobby Jindal decides to do next. “It (2014) depends so much on who wins the presidency,” Goidel said.
If President Barack Obama defeats GOP nominee Mitt Romney, then Jindal is more likely to aim for the 2016 presidency, Goidel said. When asked if Jindal will eye Iowa — the Iowa caucuses are typically the first key electoral event of presidential primaries — Goidel said, “If? I think he already is.”
But if Romney beats Obama, Goidel said, then Jindal will have to “find another race” and he could immediately become Landrieu’s top challenger.
The other big question concerns 2015 and who will follow Jindal as Louisiana’s next governor.
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and state Treasurer John Kennedy are among the potential contenders, but U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., could jump to the front of the line if he decides he wants to move to Baton Rouge.
“He’s certainly making all the moves for that if he does,” Goidel said of Vitter. “He’d be pretty formidable.”
There has even been some hushed talk of U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman, considering the governor’s race, University of Louisiana at Monroe political scientist Josh Stockley has said. Alexander has more than $300,000 in campaign cash currently on hand.
Out of the potential Democratic candidates for governor, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, outgoing Shaw Group CEO Jim Bernhard, and state Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, are among the top names mentioned, Goidel said.
“That one (the governor’s race) is just all kinds of wide open,” Goidel said.
But, for now, we’ll just continue to watch Boustany and Landry go at each other’s throats for a few more weeks, although the people in southwestern Louisiana might already be sick of the onslaught of campaign advertisements.
Jordan Blum is chief of The Advocate’s Washington bureau. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.