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Member-Vs.-Member Race Could Get Nasty in Bayou

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Rep. Jeff Landry’s district in the southeastern portion of the state was essentially eliminated after Louisiana was apportioned one less seat in the 2010 census.

Redistricting in Louisiana has pitted two Republican Congressmen one a tea party stalwart and one close to the Speaker and GOP establishment against each other in what could be the longest and nastiest Member-to-Member race of the cycle.

Rep. Jeff Landrys district in the southeastern portion of the Pelican State was essentially eliminated after Louisiana was apportioned one less seat in the 2010 census.

Under the new map, among the first of the cycle signed into law, Landrys residence will fall within the 3rd district, which will include almost the entire district currently represented by four-term Rep. Charles Boustany (R).

This sets up the potential for a fiery Member-to-Member race that could, because of Louisianas jungle primary law, stretch into a runoff in December 2012.

Rumors in the state are that Landry might run for statewide office, perhaps attorney general, this November. But Bernie Pinsonat, a longtime pollster in Louisiana, said running against Boustany was Landrys next logical move.

Boustanys office says he is running for re-election, and he holds some key early advantages: The new 3rd district contains most of his current district, including the city of Lake Charles, far from Landrys base.

Boustany raised $235,000 in the first quarter of this year and had almost $700,000 in cash on hand.

Landrys team wont even entertain questions about political campaigns. But his consultant Brent Littlefield emphasized that Landry has been aggressively raising money and hes done very well in that regard.

Landry is an energetic speaker and an indefatigable and aggressive campaigner, Louisiana Republicans say. An attorney who had never held public office before being sworn into the House in January, he ran for the 3rd district seat when then-Rep. Charlie Melancon (D) ran for the Senate against David Vitter (R).

Landry faced a bruising, nasty three-way primary that ended in a runoff. He won the runoff against former Louisiana Speaker Hunt Downer, 65 percent to 35 percent. Landry then easily glided past his Democratic opponent in the general, 64 percent to 36 percent. He raised about $200,000 in the first quarter of this year and had $172,000 in cash on hand.

Boustanys seat was uncontested in 2010.

I think that anybody who thinks that either one of them has it in the bag is very misguided, a senior Republican in Louisiana told Roll Call. This early, if they are both in it to win it, it will be a very serious race.

While the new Louisiana map is now law, the Justice Department still has to approve it to make sure the new districts comply with the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

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