By Ben Pershing and Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) yesterday ordered his state's congressional primary, which had been scheduled for Saturday, postponed after the damage wrought by Hurricane Gustav made it too difficult to organize the balloting on time.
The state hopes to push the election back a week, to Sept. 13, but a definite date has not been set. The state's runoff election for primaries in which no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote is still scheduled for Oct. 4, a date campaign officials do not expect to change.
While the hurricane did not cause as much destruction as had been feared, Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne (R) told reporters he had not been able to get in touch with local officials in some congressional districts to determine whether polling places and voting equipment were damaged.
"We thought it would be only in the southern section of the state, but now it looks like it is of a statewide magnitude," Dardenne said, according to the Monroe News-Star.
There are only a few genuinely competitive House primaries in the state this year, with the main event being indicted Rep. William J. Jefferson's reelection effort in the New Orleans-based 2nd District. Jefferson, who will go on trial on federal corruption charges in December, is trying to hold off several Democratic challengers.
In the Shreveport-based 4th District, three Republicans are seeking the party's nod to replace retiring Rep. Jim McCrery. Democrat Paul Carmouche is likely to win his party's nomination easily.
After Democratic Rep. Don Cazayoux's special election victory this spring in a crimson red Republican district, the state looks considerably less predictable. Democrats are watching Carmouche's race closely. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report says the Caddo Parish district attorney is one of the few Democrats with a shot at a district that was held for 20 years by McCrery and rates the race a tossup.
Democrats have recruited an African American state senator and reserve police officer, Don Cravins, hoping to ride a wave of African American support for Barack Obama to unseat Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R) in the 7th District, in southwestern Louisiana. So far, though, that race has not registered as competitive.
Hurricane Gustav may have given Louisianans a respite from politics, as both parties backed off their political attacks. But that is about to end. The National Republican Congressional Committee took a swipe at Carmouche and Cravins yesterday, attempting to link them to House Ways and Means Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) and allegations that he failed to report on his taxes rental income from a beach house in the Dominican Republic.
"The slight shift in the primary schedule is certainly understandable and necessary at this time, and we are confident that it will not affect our chances of winning in November," said Ken Spain, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.