Boustany, Landry in runoff

by jordan blum

Advocate Washington bureau

Steve Scalise
Steve Scalise

The nasty campaign between U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, and Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, will continue for another month after Tuesday’s election results forced them into a runoff.

With nearly all the votes counted, the rest of the less-competitive congressional races in Louisiana finished with all the incumbents appearing headed to win outright, according to unofficial results, including U.S. Reps. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge; Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans; Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson; and Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman.

In the 6th Congressional District, Cassidy easily won re-election against two little-funded Baton Rouge residents in Libertarian Rufus Craig and “No Party” candidate Richard “RPT” Torregano.

Cassidy, who boasted an imposing $2 million war chest that he can save for re-election or a Senate run in 2014, was not opposed by any Democrats.

“I’m so honored and grateful to get any support, but especially that level,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy won 243,594 ballots — or 79.4 percent of the total votes counted with all 597 precincts reporting. Craig took 32,200 votes and Torregano had 31,014 votes.

Boustany and Landry, however, were forced to run against each other because of congressional redistricting.

Louisiana is losing a U.S. House seat because of a lack of population growth.

Boustany tallied 139,113 votes — 44.7 percent of the ballots counted — with all 616 precincts reporting, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Landry had 93,524 votes — 30 percent of the ballots counted.

The runoff election is scheduled for Dec. 8.

“This is a big victory for us — round one,” Boustany said at a celebratory Pat’s Downtown party in Lafayette. “We’ve got a little more work to do, but we won this first round with over 120,000 votes.

“We will win this, and we’re going to win it big,” Boustany said.

The two incumbents have combined to spend more than $4 million on the race, many on advertisements that attacked each other.

That spending does not even count the outside money being dumped in Louisiana by Washington, D.C.-based political action committees, called Super PACs.

The tea party-related FreedomWorks for America group is spending money on behalf of Landry while the American Hospital Association PAC is backing Boustany, a former surgeon.

The runoff election is scheduled for Dec. 8.

Boustany and Landry finished ahead of three other 3rd Congressional District candidates who were competing to represent southwestern Louisiana.

The other contenders were Democrat Ron Richard, Republican Bryan Barrilleaux and Libertarian Jim Stark, none of whom had well-funded campaigns.

Richard received 67,058 ballots or 21.5 percent of the votes cast. Barrilleaux had 7,907 votes and Stark polled 3,764 votes.

Landry said the primary election proved that the congressional seat does not belong to Boustany. “They said this is their seat, not his,” Landry said.

“The people have started to take this seat back and we — together — have started to take this country back,” Landry said.

The race is dubbed by pundits as a classic contest between a tea party freshman in Landry and a veteran congressman who is allied with the Republican House leadership in Boustany.

Thanks to the redistricting, Baton Rouge will be represented by two congressmen come January.

The New Orleans-based 2nd Congressional District now stretches into much of northern Baton Rouge and Richmond appeared headed for re-election. He had a little more than 50 percent of the vote with most of the precincts left to be counted in his Orleans Parish base.

“I feel really good about it,” Richmond said.

Richmond had four opponents but none of them launched significant campaigns.

He defeated Dwayne Bailey, a Republican from Donaldsonville; Gary Landrieu, a Democrat and cousin of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu; Caleb Trotter, a Libertarian political newcomer; and Josue Larose, a Republican who lists a New Orleans address but mailed in his qualifying papers from Florida and never responded to numerous phone messages.

Mary Landrieu, D-La., had endorsed Richmond.

In the other southeastern Louisiana seat, Scalise won re-election in the 1st Congressional District over four little-financed challengers.

He again defeated previous opponents in Democrat M.V. “Vinny” Mendoza and no party candidate Arden Wells, both of Ponchatoula.

Also in the running were political newcomers in Republican Gary King, of New Orleans, and Galliano resident David “Turk” Turknett, who is not affiliated with any political party.

In the 5th Congressional District, the incumbent, Alexander, defeated Libertarian Clay Grant, of Boyce, and Ron Ceaser, a no party candidate from Opelousas, with 78 percent of the vote.

In the 4th Congressional District, U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, was dubbed the most vulnerable Louisiana Republican by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, but won with about 75 percent of the vote.