Right now they’re just shadowboxing. They’re throwing jabs at an imaginary opponent from the comfort of their Beltway offices, shuffling in their shirtsleeves and loosening up their political muscles. They’ll have to weigh in by qualifying in mid-August, and the primary fight, where all candidates will have to slug it out on one ballot, is slated for Nov. 6. A runoff, if needed, has been prepared for early December.
Although any qualified candidate in the 3rd Congressional District can enter the ring, the contest has thus far been defined by two very different Republicans: incumbent Rep. Charles Boustany of Lafayette and Rep. Jeff Landry of New Iberia. Technically, both enjoy the status of being an incumbent congressman, only Landry’s district was eliminated during the recent redistricting process.
There was a great deal of drama in that process, and it helped shape the race as it appears before us today. That’s all to say there are other personalities that could help direct the narrative in the coming months. In Landry’s corner is U.S. Sen. David Vitter, who, more notably, is definitely not a Boustany booster in any shape or form. Boustany, however, does have a close relationship with Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has had frosty relations with Vitter over the past few years.
Should both Vitter, whose poll numbers have been trending upwards, and Jindal, whose numbers are dipping, get involved in the race, it’ll be monumental. Not only will real cracks begin to show in the GOP, but a whole segment of the electorate alienated by Jindal — teachers and state employees — could become a factor.
African-American, Democratic and independent voters are wild cards as well. Sources say Boustany has inroads to black communities, built partly by his family’s deep roots in Lafayette proper — his late father was parish coroner — and through the old-fashioned way, meaning cash, like campaign dollars and federal money.
Landry’s campaign, meanwhile, proudly boasted two years ago of his strong showing in black precincts. Landry was likewise successful in courting conservative independents, like tea party voters, in 2010. He may be aided by the fact that non-Republicans in the newly drawn district have had more time to watch Boustany’s stances conflict with theirs.
Democrats have yet to offer up a viable candidate, but that would certainly add a new layer of mystery. They would have to be well-funded. According to first quarter fundraising, Boustany has $1.5 million in the bank and Landry has $820,000. While that gives Boustany an advantage, expect Landry to attempt to leverage his underdog status. He’s accepting donations carefully at this stage and won’t be shy about pointing at Boustany’s PAC donations — for this cycle, Boustany has $684,000, the highest amount in the Louisiana House delegation; Landry has $140,000, the smallest tally.
The new ballots may become a factor as well, as New Iberia voters see Boustany in their booths and Lake Charles voters find surprise with Landry’s name. We’re basically talking about folks who have no idea that redistricting happened.
Pearson Cross, political science professor at UL Lafayette, says that portion of the electorate will soon begin to shrink. The very nature of American politics will prompt candidates to spend money, and media organizations will react by ramping up coverage. “My sense is voters will adjust to the changes pretty quickly, but there might be some hangover pains as a result,” Cross says. Joshua Stockley, a political science professor at UL Monroe, agrees. “There will probably be a few people who will have some confusion. How much? That’s hard to ascertain right now,” he says. “But it’ll only be minimal. And it probably won’t last.”
For now, it’s all about getting in shape. But that won’t last long, either, because, eventually, punches will be thrown. Landry’s business background became a source of negative attacks two years ago, and Boustany has a list of policy decisions that can easily be spun to his detriment — voting to raise the debt ceiling chief among them. That’s all to say that when the final bell rings, this particular fight might be decided by the man who can take, not throw, the most punches.
New menu items ready for the Lenten season
The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The vibe of the tribe done modern
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Prepare yourselves for sun
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
Due to the chaos of Mardi Gras and the weather, the entry deadline for this year's INDesign Awards has been extended by one week.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
Queen Evangline and King Gabriel ruled Tuesday night
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
IND Style does Gabriel
Newsy bits for the fam
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.