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Race Ratings: Primaries Are What to Watch in Louisiana

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Louisiana lost a seat in reapportionment, leaving seven Members of Congress with only six seats to run for in 2012.

The lawmaker left without a district was freshman Rep. Jeff Landry (R), whose southeastern Louisiana region was split four ways. Under the new lines, signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) last month, Landry will live in Rep. Charles Boustany’s (R) new expanded district.

If Landry decides to run, it sets up a nasty intraparty brawl for Republicans that could extend until December 2012. Regardless of who wins, the GOP will maintain an almost complete political hold over the state. Even though most voters in the state are registered Democrats, Republicans need not worry. “Louisiana is an ultra-red state right now,” longtime Louisiana pollster Bernie Pinsonat said, noting that every statewide official except Sen. Mary Landrieu is a member of the GOP.

1st District
Incumbent: Steve Scalise (R)
2nd full term (79 percent)
Rating: Safe Republican

Even though the 1st is split evenly between registered Democrats and registered Republicans, Scalise should have no trouble winning re-election to a third term in this coastal district, which includes the cities of Slidell and Houma.

2nd District
Incumbent: Cedric Richmond (D)
1st term (65 percent)
Rating: Safe Democratic

A heavily Democratic and mostly black district that includes New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the 2nd was drawn in a way to keep Richmond — or any Democrat — safely re-elected to Congress for the next decade. To keep up with population movement — there was an exodus of people from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina — and to maintain a high percentage of minority voters, mapmakers added the area up along the Mississippi River to Baton Rouge to the district.

3rd District
Member vs. Member: Charles Boustany (R) and Jeff Landry (R)
Rating: Safe Republican

Home to Landry, a freshman, and Boustany, in his fourth term, this southern Louisiana district, which stretches from the Texas border to Iberia and St. Martin parishes, can expect a long, nasty race if Landry runs. Louisiana’s election law, which calls for a “jungle primary,” means the contest could stretch into December 2012. Boustany would likely come to the race with institutional backing from the party and the advantage of constituents who know him well. But political watchers in the state say not to count Landry out. The attorney is known as a fiery campaigner and has tea party support.

4th District
Incumbent: John Fleming (R)
2nd term (62 percent)
Rating: Safe Republican

Anchored by Shreveport, this northwestern Louisiana district borders Texas and Arkansas. Fleming, who was elected to his second term with 62 percent of the vote, should easily overcome the 2-to-1 Democratic registration advantage here to be re-elected. Some national Democrats think this district could have potential to be in play, but no candidates have emerged yet.

5th District
Incumbent: Rodney Alexander (R)
5th term (79 percent)
Rating: Safe Republican

Covering the northeastern part of the state from the Arkansas border to just north of Lafayette, Alexander should have no trouble winning a sixth term here in 2012. He won with 79 percent of the vote in 2010. 

6th District
Incumbent: Bill Cassidy (R)
2nd term (66 percent)
Rating: Safe Republican

The new sixth district encircles Baton Rouge, includes the Republican suburbs of the city and snakes down to the outskirts of Houma. It’s a majority-white district that Cassidy should easily carry in a re-election effort. “Nobody can beat him,” Pinsonat said.

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