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Southwest Daily News - Sulphur, LA
  • Boustany keeps House seat as delegation shrinks

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  • Tea party support wasn't enough to return Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry to Congress for a second term after Louisiana lost a U.S. House seat in redistricting.
    His fellow GOP congressman, Charles Boustany, easily defeated Landry in Saturday's runoff election after the two men were forced into the same district.
    Boustany, a retired doctor from Lafayette, will represent the 3rd District covering southwest Louisiana and Acadiana starting next year, his fifth term in Congress. He'll be one of five Republicans in the six-man U.S. House delegation for the state.
    Both Boustany and Landry ran as conservative Republicans opposed to the policies of President Barack Obama, leaving them little ground in which to distinguish themselves, so they largely resorted to attacks on each other.
    Landry's grassroots backing from tea party organizers couldn't propel him to victory in a district design that favored Boustany, a traditional Republican candidate allied with House Speaker John Boehner.
    "We're glad to get this done," Boustany said. He added, "I'm eager to get back to deal with the many challenges facing our country and our district."
    Pearson Cross, chairman of the political science department at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, said Boustany was the "de-facto incumbent" throughout the race.
    "Most voters in the district have voted for Charles Boustany, think he's done a good job, are comfortable with him," Cross said.
    Landry said it was difficult to overcome Boustany's advantage in the district design. Boustany had represented more than two-thirds of the parishes in the configuration of the new 3rd District.
    "In those parishes that I represented, we did extremely well. In those parishes that he represented, he did well. It's kind of tough when seven out of 10 of those parishes were his," Landry said.
    Boustany described his GOP opponent as a good ol' boy politician who would say anything to get elected, habitually skipped votes in Congress and spread distortions about Boustany's record to distract voters from his own lack of accomplishments.
    Landry criticized Boustany as lacking the courage to make tough votes for his district and instead following in lockstep with Washington Republican leaders even if south Louisiana voters didn't support the policy.
    Asked what he'll do next, Landry replied, "I'm going duck hunting. That's what's next for me." But then he added, "I will consistently and always be a voice for our conservative principles."
    The race was one of Louisiana's most expensive congressional contests, with nearly $6 million spent between the two men and even more from outside groups. Boustany had a significant edge in fundraising.
    Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal didn't make an endorsement in the race.
    Also in Saturday's election, Republican appeals court judge Jeff Hughes won the runoff for an open seat on the Louisiana Supreme Court representing the eight-parish Baton Rouge region.
    Page 2 of 2 - The seat is vacant because Chief Justice Catherine "Kitty" Kimball is retiring at the end of January.
    Hughes, a former state District Court judge from Livingston Parish, defeated one of his colleagues for the position: John Michael Guidry, a Democrat and former lawmaker from Baton Rouge.
    Hughes broke with the usual approach that many judges take when running for office. Instead of refusing to weigh in on hot-button topics, Hughes branded himself a conservative and touted his beliefs as being "pro-life, pro-gun and pro-traditional marriage."
    He'll be sitting on a high court expected to face headline-grabbing challenges in the upcoming year, including a decision on whether the financing for Jindal's state-funded private school tuition program is unconstitutional.
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