- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 8, 2012

The polls are open in Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District runoff, pitting two Republicans — veteran Rep. Charles Boustany against freshman incumbent Rep. Jeff Landry — in the first post-November 2012 test of the tea party’s influence on the GOP.

The two Republicans, forced to run against each after Lousiana lost a seat in the 2010 Census, have each aggressively questioned the other’s conservative credentials since emerging as the two top vote-getters on Nov. 6.

But many political pundits and commentators have cast the showdown as a proxy battle between the establishment wing of the GOP, which has backed Mr. Boustany, a close ally of House Speaker John Boehener, and Mr. Landry, who rode the tea party wave into office in 2010.

The redrawn district, which includes much of Mr. Boustany’s old district, strongly favors the four-term incumbent. On Nov. 6, Mr. Boustany chalked up about 45 percent of the vote to Mr. Landry’s 30 percent.

In addition, Mr. Boustany, 56, who sits on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, has outraised and outspent Mr. Landry, 41, almost 2-to-1, according to FEC records.

The Boustany campaign has spent almost $4 million, while the Landry camp has spent more than $2 million, according to the required federal filings.

But Mr. Landry has had help from Freedom Works for America, the powerful tea party political action committee, and from other tea party leaders in Congress, including South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint and Utah Sen. Mike Lee.

The combined $6 million-and-counting price tag, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate, makes the House race the state’s costliest congressional contest.

The polls are open until 9 p.m. Eastern (8 p.m. in Lousiana).