Last Modified: Thursday, August 16, 2012 10:36 AM
BATON ROUGE (AP) — All of Louisiana's incumbent congressmen signed up for their re-election bids on the opening day of qualifying Wednesday, including two Republicans forced into the same district because the state lost a U.S. House seat in redistricting.
Registered for the Nov. 6 election are Reps. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie; Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans; John Fleming, R-Minden; Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman; and Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge.
All but Alexander have attracted opposition so far, but from little-known challengers who haven't raised much campaign cash if any.
The most heated congressional battle centers on southwest Louisiana, where GOP Reps. Charles Boustany of Lafayette and Jeff Landry of New Iberia are both running for a reconfigured 3rd District because Louisiana's population didn't grow enough to hold on to seven congressional seats.
The redrawn district bears the same number as Landry's current seat, but it favors Boustany because it contains much of his existing district. Landry is courting the support of the tea party and framing himself as a Washington outsider in the hopes of ousting Boustany, a retired surgeon who is seeking a fifth term.
"The people of south Louisiana now have a choice, a choice between a nearly decade-long politician like Charles Boustany, who's voted for trillions of dollars of debt, voted for bailouts, voted to allow himself a pay raise, voted for a debt ceiling deal ... or a true conservative like me," said Landry, a freshman congressman and lawyer.
Boustany also gave himself the conservative moniker.
"I represent conservative leadership that can be trusted with credibility and real solutions to problems, and I don't think he'll fit that bill," he said of Landry.
The redrawn 3rd District contains portions of three Acadiana-area parishes not currently represented by Boustany.
"They're parishes where I have friends, family, former patients. These three parishes fit very nicely into the congressional district. It's the same basic demographics," he said.
Landry sidestepped talk of any concerns he might have about the reconfigured district, instead hammering Boustany's record.
"The American people are tied of Washington games. While Charles fights for his job back, I'm fighting to take our country back," Landry said.
Louisiana's other U.S. House members have steered clear of the Boustany/Landry matchup so far, not choosing sides.
"They're both friends of mine. I hate that it wound up that way," said Alexander, dean of the state's U.S. House delegation. "We're going to worry about our own race."
Also seeking the 3rd District seat is first-time candidate Bryan Barrilleaux, a Republican doctor from Lake Charles, who said he's running against the influence of money in politics. He pledged to run a grassroots effort, using social media and refusing to accept any campaign contributions.
"And when I serve, I will serve with no conflict of interest," he said.
State and local candidates must file paperwork and pay their fees by Friday if they want to run in the fall election.
After the presidential race, top of the ballot around the state will be Louisiana's six U.S. House seats, and most incumbents appeared on track to escape well-funded opposition.
Democratic Party leaders interviewed and tried to recruit challengers for Fleming, deemed to be in a district that could be favorable to a Democratic candidate, but they hadn't announced a well-known contender with two days remaining to get in the race.
Democrats, who have lost significant clout in Louisiana in recent years, haven't announced any challengers against Republican congressional incumbents. Libertarian candidates entered three congressional races.
"There's something un-American about an unopposed congressional candidate," said Rufus Craig Jr., a Libertarian running against Cassidy in the Baton Rouge-based 6th District.
Also up for election are two positions on the seven-member Louisiana Supreme Court.
Attention is centered on a seat in the eight-parish Baton Rouge area that is vacant because Chief Justice Catherine "Kitty" Kimball is retiring.
At least six candidates are vying for the position, including well-known defense lawyer Mary Olive Pierson, a Democrat who joked that she entered the race because it was cheaper to pay the qualifying fee than to be expected to contribute to the list of judges jockeying to be on the state's high court who will return to lower court seats if they lose.
"The worst thing you can do is support the winner, because then you have to go practice in front of the losers," she said.
Also in the region is an open seat on the state's utility regulatory agency, the Public Service Commission, representing south central Louisiana. Three Republicans qualified for the race: former Jindal administration official Scott Angelle of Breaux Bridge; state Rep. Erich Ponti, a Baton Rouge contractor; and Ed Roy, a private investigator and former TV and radio weatherman.
Runoff elections, if needed, will be held Dec. 8.