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It wouldn’t be unusual for Rep. Jeff Landry (R) and Sen. David Vitter (R) to hold two joint public forums to discuss debt and spending with their Louisiana constituents during the August recess. Except that both events are being held in the district represented by Rep. Charles Boustany (R), whom Landry appears likely to challenge in a redistricting-driven Member-vs.-Member primary.
Longtime Louisiana pollster Bernie Pinsonat, who has worked for both parties, said Vitter’s decision to hold next week’s events with Landry in Boustany’s district — given that the two Congressmen could be opponents — is exceedingly unusual. He said he couldn’t think of a time when former Democratic Sens. John Breaux, Bennett Johnston or Russell Long had conducted a similar event.
Pinsonat said calling the joint forums “a bold move by Vitter is probably an understatement for this particular turn of events.”
A Vitter spokesman said the Senator is collaborating with Landry because they share the view “that the recent deal increasing the debt limit was a big mistake that doesn’t begin to solve the underlying problem.”
While Boustany, who is close with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), voted for the debt limit-increasing Budget Control Act, Landry and Vitter opposed it.
The Vitter spokesman said the Senator believes “unsustainable spending and debt is the central challenge we face as a nation — a real crisis.” And the forums are indicative of “nothing more or less than that,” the spokesman told Roll Call in an emailed statement.
Earlier this week, Vitter held a similar forum in Shreveport with Rep. John Fleming (R-La.). Fleming was another of the 66 Republican “no” votes for the early August debt limit deal in the House.
Landry’s office is airing Congressionally funded radio advertisements publicizing the official events in the Lafayette media market, which reaches the western part of Landry’s current district, his spokesman told Roll Call. It also happens to reach part of Boustany’s current district.
Because of Louisiana’s lackluster population growth over the last decade, the state lost a Congressional district during reapportionment and Landry’s district was essentially eliminated, with his home drawn into a district that contained most of Boustany’s current district.
The two Vitter-Landry forums are being held in Lafayette, near the border of Landry’s district under the current map, and Lake Charles, in the heart of Boustany’s district.
Boustany’s office did not return a call and an email requesting comment Friday.