A Look At Saturday's Congressional Runoffs In LA
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Incumbents easily won re-election in four of Louisiana's six congressional districts in November but two races for open seats — in the sprawling, northeast Louisiana 5th District and the Baton Rouge area's 6th district — won't be resolved until Saturday's runoff.
A look at the two remaining races:
SWAN SONG OR SUCCESSFUL COMEBACK?
In the 6th District, 87-year-old Edwin Edwards seeks an improbable political comeback nearly 20 years after his record fourth term as governor ended — and a little over three years since he got out of federal prison. Edwards, a Democrat, is known for deadpan wit, political skill and a reputation as a ladies' man who married a woman five decades his junior after his release from prison. He has served in the Legislature, in Congress and as governor during a storied career marked by scandals that culminated in his conviction in a scheme to broker riverboat casino licenses. He has always insisted that he was wrongly convicted.
Edwards finished first in an 11-candidate field last month. But votes that split among several Republicans in that race are now expected to flow to Garett Graves. Graves has never held office but he has plenty of political experience, having served on congressional staffs and, most recently, as Gov. Bobby Jindal's coastal restoration chief.
A runoff victory would be a tall order for any Democrat in the 6th District, let alone an octogenarian with a prison record. Two thirds of the district's votes went to the GOP opponents of President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. White voters outnumber blacks — a key Edwards constituency — by 360,098 to 107,367.
SUCCEEDING THE "KISSING CONGRESSMAN"
In the 5th District, Republican businessman Vance McAllister won a race to fill an unexpired term in 2013. But he finished fourth on Nov. 4, months after a video surfaced showing the married congressman kissing a woman he wasn't married to.
Democratic first-place finisher Jamie Mayo, the mayor of Monroe, faces Republican physician Ralph Abraham of Richland Parish. The district went overwhelmingly for Obama opponents in 2008 and 2012. And white voters outnumber black voters 309,970 to 161,366, meaning Mayo, an African-American, would need significant racial cross-over voting.
Republicans in both districts staked out firmly conservative stances, criticizing government regulation and Obama's health care law and opposing a minimum wage hike.
In the 6th, Democrat Edwards took some centrist positions. He backed same-sex civil unions (but not gay marriage); supported a minimum wage increase. He favored the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act even as he voiced complaints about the act overall.
In the 5th, Mayo championed a minimum wage increase, opposed by Abraham. Mayo also stressed his own fiscal record as Monroe's mayor for 13 years, producing a $14 million budget surplus. While Abraham stressed his success as a physician and businessman, Mayo said the wealthy Abraham was out of touch with the needs of one of many residents of the 5th District, one of the poorest in the nation.
– by AP Reporter Kevin McGill