- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 4, 2008

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Republicans have retained at least one House seat in two special elections being held in Louisiana.

State Sen. Steve Scalise beat Democrat Gilda Reed 71 percent to 27 percent with 35 percent of precincts reporting.

Mr. Scalise takes over the 1st Congressional District in suburban New Orleans. It was formerly held by fellow Republican Bobby Jindal. He resigned in January before being sworn in as governor.

In the other race, Republican Woody Jenkins held an early lead over Democratic state Rep. Don Cazayoux in a contest to represent the 6th District.

Mr. Jenkins had 49 percent to Mr. Cazayoux’s 46 percent with nearly 60 percent of precincts reporting.

Mr. Cazayoux led in a recent poll over Mr. Jenkins, who spent 28 years as a state lawmaker, in the race to replace Richard H. Baker, who resigned after 20 years representing the 6th District to take a lobbying job.

Mr. Cazayoux and Mr. Jenkins share conservative positions on gun rights and abortion, but interest groups from Washington inundated local television and radio airtime with ads attacking the Democrat as a tax-happy liberal and accusing the Republican of tax evasion.

The district includes Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes. Secretary of State Jay Dardenne had predicted low voter turnout, between 15 percent and 20 percent.

If Mr. Cazayoux were to win in the 6th District, Louisiana’s seven-member delegation would have three Democrats for the first time since 2004, and for only the second time in 12 years.

Mr. Scalise had been expected to win easily in suburban New Orleans. Mr. Scalise, of Jefferson, faced Mrs. Reed, a college professor, and two independents, Anthony “Tony G” Gentile and R.A. “Skip” Galan.

The close 6th District race also had three independent candidates: Ashley Casey of Baton Rouge, Peter Aranyosi of Hammond and Randall Hayes of Winnfield.

Coming in the middle of a presidential campaign, the Cazayoux-Jenkins race attracted attention and money from Washington interest groups and the national parties.

“It’s of enormous national significance,” said Dane Strother, a Washington-based Democratic consultant. President Bush won 59 percent of the district’s vote in 2004, he noted.

“If we take yet another Republican seat, a seat that has been considered safe for years, then every 59 percent district is at play,” he said.

Mr. Cazayoux, who raised twice as much money as Mr. Jenkins, was attacked in ads that painted him as a liberal and supporter of Democratic presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Mr. Jenkins narrowly lost a bitter Senate race in 1996 to Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat, and a 1999 race for state elections commissioner. His company, Great Oaks Broadcasting, has run into problems for not paying taxes on time.

Mr. Jenkins won the endorsement of the popular Mr. Jindal but has also been connected with polarizing characters.

In 2002, the Federal Election Commission fined him for concealing his purchase of a phone bank tied to former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. In the 1980s, Mr. Jenkins was aligned with Iran-Contra figure Oliver North through a charity he operated, Friends of the Americas, which sent medical supplies to Central America.

Associated Press writer Cain Burdeau in New Orleans contributed to this report.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide