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Louisiana - 3rd District

Incumbent -- Charlie Melancon (D) ; Defeated by Sen. David Vitter, R, for Senate

Safe Republican
Race Ratings Key
 

Updated Oct. 14, 2010

Democrats would have had a good shot at holding this district if Melancon hadn't left to run statewide.

But Melancon's success in the district was a bit of a partisan anomaly unlikely to transfer to attorney Ravi Sangisetty (D). While Melancon did not even draw a Republican opponent in 2008, GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) took 61 percent of the 3rd district's votes.

Republicans have yet to settle on their nominee. Their late-August primary ended without a clear winner, although state Senate candidate Jeff Landry came very close to topping the 50 percent threshold. He was heavily favored to finish the job against Hunt Downer, a former state Speaker, in the GOP runoff Saturday.

 

District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

A maze of interconnected bayous, swamps and marshes, the 3rd runs along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and takes in the Mississippi River delta and the eastern half of Acadiana, or Cajun country.

The same geography that attracts commercial fishermen and sportsmen also leaves the area susceptible to significant damage from hurricanes. In 2005, Katrina and Rita destroyed or severely damaged towns and cities across the district, submerging the mostly middle-class Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes. In 2008, flooding and high winds from Gustav and Ike affected agriculture, fishing and infrastructure. Crop production in parishes west of Plaquemines has suffered and ranchers have lost cattle.

The 3rd long supported fishing, oystering and shrimping, and many small operations in Plaquemines and west along the coast had begun to get back on the water after last decade's storms. However, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill closed the Gulf to fishing, halted offshore drilling, and decimated wildlife populations and oyster yields.

Democrats dominated the region for most of a century, but the Catholic 3rd now trends Republican. The ability to bring federal and state aid to the district may largely determine future political success here.

Major Industry

Oil and gas, petrochemicals, shipbuilding, agriculture

Military Bases

Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, 250 military, 170 civilian (2009)

Cities

Houma, 33,727; New Iberia, 30,617; Laplace (unincorporated), 29,872

Notable

St. John the Baptist Parish holds its annual Andouille Festival in October.

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