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Updated July 21, 2009
Fleming, a physician whose only previous public office was as a local coroner, kept the 4th District seat in Republican hands in 2008 after Jim McCrery, a congressman for more than 20 years, left it open to retire.
But Fleming's 350-vote winning margin over Democrat Carmouche, a longtime local prosecutor in Shreveport, was the narrowest in any House race in 2008. And it came in a low-turnout general election held out of sync in December in what effectively was a political rain delay: A hurricane that September forced the postponement of the primary, pushing both that contest and the general election back a month.
Those facts alone should induce Democrats to make a run at Fleming in 2010 to try to prevent him from settling in to dominate the district the way McCrery did. But Democratic recruiting efforts still are in their formative stages.
District Profile from Politics in America
Covering most of western Louisiana, the conservative 4th takes in Shreveport in the north and wanders into timber country in Beauregard and Allen parishes in the south.
The Red River divides Shreveport and Bossier City geographically, but unites them economically. Riverboat casinos dock on the river, and gambling sites dot the shores. But a major riverfront renewal project completed in 2005 is in danger of collapsing -- the Louisiana Boardwalk shopping and entertainment complex, which helped support the economy in Bossier City, is in foreclosure. Empty storefronts on the property have meant the loss of important retail jobs, and the city's investment in the development has left its revenue base vulnerable.
Shreveport is a health care hub for northern Louisiana, eastern Texas and southern Arkansas, and nursing jobs will be in demand in local communities with older populations. The city's General Motors plant, which produces several pickup truck models, will shut down by 2012 and has already shed thousands of jobs. Barksdale Air Force Base near Bossier City is a key employer for both cities, and base expansion is expected to bring construction, military and high-tech jobs.
Outside of the district's primary population hub, Natchitoches is the oldest permanent settlement in the former Louisiana Purchase territory and markets its history to lure tourists. The rest of the 4th, except for Fort Polk in Vernon Parish, relies on cotton and forestry.
Although registered Democrats outnumber Republicans here, Shreveport and Bossier City suburbs can back the GOP and the 4th overall typically prefers Republican candidates in federal elections. John McCain received 59 percent of the district's 2008 presidential vote.
Military, riverboat gambling, health care
Fort Polk (Army), 9,297 military, 1,929 civilian; Barksdale Air Force Base, 5,331 military, 1,177 civilian (2009)
Shreveport, 199,311; Bossier City, 61,315; Natchitoches, 18,323
Natchitoches has an annual Meat Pie Festival.
|2010||general||John Fleming (R)||105,223||62.3%|
|David Melville (D)||54,609||32.4%|
|Artis Cash (I)||8,962||5.3%|
|2008||general||John Fleming (R)||44,501||48.1%|
|Paul Carmouche (D)||44,151||47.7%|
|Chester Kelley (X)||3,245||3.5%|
|Gerard Bowen (X)||675||0.7%|
|2006||general||Jim McCrery (R)||77,078||57.4%|
|Artis Cash (D)||22,757||16.9%|
|Patti Cox (D)||17,788||13.2%|
|Chester Kelley (R)||16,649||12.4%|
|2004||general||Jim McCrery (R)||unopposed|
|2002||general||Jim McCrery (R)||114,649||71.6%|
|John Milkovich (D)||42,340||26.4%|
|Bill Jacobs (I)||3,104||1.9%|
|2008||Barack Obama: 40%||John McCain: 59%|
|2004||John Kerry: 40%||George W. Bush: 59%|
|2000||Al Gore: 43%||George W. Bush: 55%|