After months of contentious campaigning, more than $2 million in expenditures and unprecedented primary elections, voters in the 3rd Congressional District overwhelmingly selected Republican Jeff Landry of New Iberia as their next representative on Capitol Hill.

According to unofficial but complete returns from the Secretary of State’s Office, Landry lead the Tuesday contest with 64 percent of the electorate, or 108,957 votes. Democratic nominee Ravi Sangisetty of Houma tallied just 36 percent, or 61,909 votes.

Landry, 39, watched the election results come in with family and friends at the Gouguenheim Reception Hall in New Iberia. Throughout the evening, he said he was reluctant to accept congratulations from anyone. “The congratulations belongs to all the voters,” Landry said.

Voters should likewise feel good about Republicans taking over the U.S. House, he said, especially since several party leaders were involved with his campaign. “The first order of business is to see how this all plays out,” Landry said. “If Republicans take control of Congress, then I would say that the district is positioned well to have a seat at the table when decisions are made.”

From his own election night party at Cristiano Ristorante in Houma, Sangisetty said he wasn’t discouraged by the results. “There’s no shame in stepping up and the fighting the good fight,” he said. “I still believe in my community and this region. I talked about the issues and there’s something to be said about that. I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish. We offered voters a choice and did everything we could.”

At only 28, Sangisetty was among the youngest candidates statewide on the fall ballot, which could mean he has a long political career ahead of him. “You never know what the future holds,” said Sangisetty. “We’ll see what happens.”

Joshua Stockley, political science professor at UL Monroe, said Landry can credit some of his success to the tea party movement. During the Republican primary, the first of its kind held in the district in recent history, Landry was able to use the anti-incumbent fervor to topple former House Speaker Hunt Downer of Houma, said Stockley.

As for Tuesday’s general election, Stockley said Sangisetty’s timing couldn’t have been worse. “Sangisetty was the victim of a couple of things,” he said. “But mostly national forces. It was not a good year to be a Democrat in Louisiana. A lot of Democratic constituencies did not show up. All you have to do is look at the exit polls.”

Dr. Pearson Cross, a political science professor at UL Lafayette, said it’s a sign of the times in south Louisiana. “The time when the right kind of Democrat could win in the 3rd Congressional District is passing,” Cross said. “Louisiana is getting more conservative, and the potential of a Reagan Democrat with enough crossover appeal is dwindling. I think the 3rd District is in flux and moving more to the right.”

Landry takes the place of current U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, a Napoleonville Democrat who vacated the seat to make his own unsuccessful bid Tuesday against incumbent U.S. Sen. David Vitter, a Republican from Metairie. Melancon has been serving in the 3rd Congressional District, which includes portions of Acadiana, since 2005.

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