The state House and Senate signed off on a congressional redistricting plan Wednesday afternoon — just hours before the scheduled close of the special session — that largely preserves the power bases of the five incumbent congressmen and leaves freshman U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, on the outside looking in.
The plan (see map below), which must be approved by Gov. Bobby Jindal as well as the U.S. Department of Justice, also makes strange bedfellows among far-flung communities with little in common culturally. Assuming the map is approved, residents in Opelousas will have to turn to Rep. Rodney Alexander in Monroe when they need help from their congressman. And residents in Ville Platte will be calling on Rep. John Fleming in Shreveport.
The biggest loser, however, appears to be Landry, who won a seat in the U.S. House representing what is currently the 3rd Congressional District. That district will more or less be absorbed into the districts currently represented by Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, and Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie. The former’s southwest Louisiana district will remain largely intact, spreading eastward to take in Landry’s home parish of Iberia as well as St. Mary, which are now in Landry's 3rd Congressional District. Currently the 7th District, Boustany’s new district will become the 3rd District next year. Scalise’s 1st District spreads south and west to take in Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes, where Landry campaigned heavily in his win last fall over former state House Speaker Hunt Downer.
The short of it is, if Landry wants to run in the new 3rd Congressional District against Boustany next year, assuming Boustany seeks re-election, the freshman congressman have to campaign in unfamiliar territory. Boustany is in his fourth term, having faced no opponents in the last election.
Politico echoed the sentiment that the map favors Boustany:
The final plan, which Jindal said Wednesday he will sign into law, is viewed as a win for Boustany, who will keep his Lake Charles and Lafayette population centers. Landry, a tea party backed freshman, will find himself in largely new territory and without a significant portion of his current district, No longer in Landry’s district are Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.
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DEC 6 Here we are, at the top of another bad list: this time, Louisiana has the (dubious) honor of beating out all other states when it comes to gutting higher ed funding, this Picayune story reports. The American Association of Colleges and Universities says our cuts (nearly 18 percent this year alone) are the highest in the nation. Three-fourths of the states increased funding last year, with the top spender increasing funding by 28 percent. This is a great legacy for our governor, right?
DEC 6 Blogger Lamar White Jr. takes a look at the creepy effort over in Baton Rouge, wherein the southern, lily-white area of the city wants to secede from the union, er, create its own "city" and take all the really fat sales tax cows with it. Turns out the group campaigning for the move is a for-profit corporation, and Lamar says that means its effort won't pass legal muster.
DEC 6 Blogger Tom Aswell tells us about some fishiness he found in the state worker's comp office. There's some confusion about when one guy started working there, and there's also some involvement by a GOP lege from Hammond. It's all just another example of the Jindal administration's actions that "defy explanation," Aswell says.
DEC 6 Edwin Edwards may think it's possible he will be governor again, but columnist James Gill isn't so sure. Edwards would have to get a presidential pardon to run for governor -- unless he wants to wait until he's 99, Gill says. But even Edwards' many supporters should probably hope he doesn't get that, because there's no real chance he can win, Gill says.
DEC 6 Here's an interesting post on DIG Magazine for football history buffs. It's about the Pelican Bowl, the Bayou Classic and the history of black college football. It's a trip down memory lane and the story of a "mythical black college national crown." What killed it? Trying to compete with the Bayou Classic.
DEC 6 Nelson Mandela became famous while sitting in prison, where he was a symbol of apartheid. But his enduring legacy was his ability to forgive, to reach out a hand of peace to heal his country of division and oppression, and the Picayune talks about this aspect of his personality. The story also reminds us of the more light-hearted moments Louisiana shared with the former President of South Africa.
DEC 6 We've all been passed by a nut on the highway and assumed the driver was on drugs. Maybe that's not hyperbole: here's a story from the Picayune about a guy riding around with a meth lab in his back seat. One wonders if his insurance policy included coverage for random explosions.
DEC 6 Here's a new blog in the NOLA Defender; it's called Shift Change, and it's all about cocktails. This installment by Rhiannon Enlil focuses on the sazerac, the enigmatic cocktail made with absinthe. But Enlil also introduces herself, a long-time NOLA bartender who has "a lot of booze" in her house.
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