- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 6, 2008

BATON ROUGE, La. — Republican Louis E. Woody Jenkins and Democrat Donald J. Cazayoux Jr. emerged victors in their parties” runoffs and will square off on May 3 to fill one of two vacant Louisiana seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

With 458 of 512 of precincts reporting in 6th Congressional District, Mr. Jenkins, 61, a community newspaper publisher and former state representative known for his social conservative views, led business consultant Laurinda L. Calongne 12,845 votes (61 percent) to 8,354 (39 percent).

Mr. Cazayoux, 44, a state representative from New Roads and former prosecutor in Pointe Coupee Parish, was leading fellow state Rep. Michael L. Jackson, 44, a Baton Rouge lawyer, 17,885 votes (57 percent) to 13,401 (43 percent).

Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Cazayoux will vie to succeed Republican Rep. Richard H. Baker, who resigned in February to become a lobbyist. Democrats hope to capture this seat, which has been in Republican hands for 30 years, because of the influx of Democratic voters from New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.

Meanwhile, the Republican primary runoff for the 1st Congressional District in suburban New Orleans, state Sen. Stephen J. Scalise, 42, a computer-systems engineer from Metairie, was leading state Rep. Timothy G. Tim Burns, 51, a tax lawyer from Mandeville, 19,318 votes (58 percent) to 13,920 (42 percent).

Mr. Scalise will face Democrat Gilda Reed, 60, a psychology professor at the University of New Orleans, on May 3 to replace former Rep. Bobby Jindal, who became governor in January. Mrs. Reed won the Democratic primary outright on March 8 with 70 percent of the vote.

Bernie Pinsonat, a pollster with Southern Media and Opinion Research in Baton Rouge, said the Republican Party almost certainly will retain the District 1 seat, but said District 6 will become a “battleground” attracting national interest.

He predicted the national Democratic Party would seek to exploit the lingering controversy over Mr. Jenkins” unsuccessful appeal to the Senate of the results of the 1996 U.S. Senate race, which he lost to Democrat Mary L. Landrieu by fewer than 6,000 votes. The Republican-controlled Senate concluded there was insufficient evidence to support Mr. Jenkins” accusations of vote fraud in New Orleans.

However, Mr. Pinsonat said, “Woody Jenkins is still popular here, and he will benefit from the backing of Bobby Jindal. Who is Cazayoux going to get to campaign for him? Obama? Hillary? I don”t think so.”

Mr. Pinsonat acknowledged that the demographics of District 6 have been altered dramatically since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. According to the Louisiana Secretary of State”s Office, the district now has 211,000 registered Democrats, 120,000 Republicans and 93,000 independents.

This is the first time in 30 years that Louisianians have chosen congressional candidates in separate party primaries. Until now, they were chosen under the state”s unique open-primary system, by which Democrats, Republicans and independents appear on the same ballot. The open primary is still used to elect state officials.