Cost of Louisiana politics is high

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

Reps. Charles Boustany and Jeff Landry,

who both vied for re-election for the reconfigured 3rd Congressional

District seat

last fall, spent more than $7 million total on their campaigns,

according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission

last week.

“This was the most expensive House race

in state history,” Dr. Henry B. Sirgo, McNeese professor of political

science, said

Monday. “Generally, Louisiana House races are the same as House

races in other states and the trend has been for increasing

expenses.”

Incumbents attract a lot of campaign contributions, which is the reason both Landry and Boustany had so much money to spend,

he said. During the Dec. 8 run-off, Boustany was re-elected with 61 percent of the vote.

Between the Jan. 1, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2012 election cycle, Boustany raised almost $4.5 million. Boustany spent nearly $4.9

million by the end of the election cycle. During the same time, Landry raised nearly $2.3 million and spent more than $2.2

million, according to reports.

Money spent in the other congressional

races were significantly less than the money spent in the battle for the

3rd Congressional

seat. For example, incumbent Reps. Rodney Alexander in Louisiana’s

5th District spent more than $1.1 million and John Fleming

in Louisiana’s 4th District spent more than $1.3 million during

the election cycle.

“Compared to the other races, the Boustany/Landry election was a more heated and exciting affair,” Sirgo said.

Thousands of dollars were also spent on negative ads for both candidates.

“Certainly, the funds were used for a lot of nastiness,” Sirgo said. “Landry came across as strident, and he was seen as more

hostile toward President Obama than Charles Boustany was.”

Louisiana had the second biggest rate of improvement in terms of how the Obama-Biden ticket did, Sirgo said.

“People who were for Obama would be more likely to vote for Boustany,” he said. “And Landry was certainly harsher on President

Obama than was Boustany.”

Sirgo said he doesn’t anticipate races to be this expensive in the future.

“Unless we lose another House seat,” he added.

Money did not decide this race, Sirgo said, although he said residents can’t blame them for spending it.

Boustany had been around longer and it was Landry’s first term, he added.

Boustany, a retired doctor, represented the 7th District for four two-year terms; Landry, the tea party favorite, was in his

first term as congressman of the old 3rd District.

The new 3rd District comprises Acadia,

Calcasieu, Cameron, Iberia, Jeff Davis, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Mary,

Vermilion

and part of St. Landry parishes. Six of those parishes were in the

7th District, giving Boustany a numbers edge over Landry.