- Associated Press - Thursday, October 9, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The field of Republicans hoping to take over the U.S. House seat being vacated by Senate hopeful Bill Cassidy narrowed on Thursday as attorney Cassie Felder dropped out of the race and endorsed state Sen. Dan Claitor of Baton Rouge.

Felder announced her decision on her campaign website and in an interview on a Baton Rouge radio show.

“The goal remains, and that is to put the right person in Congress to represent Louisiana’s 6th district, and he is Dan Claitor,” Felder said in her online statement.

Other GOP candidates include retired Navy captain Bob Bell, software company owner Paul Dietzel, former state coastal chief Garret Graves, physical therapist Craig McCulloch, state Rep. Lenar Whitney and former LSU football player and teacher Trey Thomas.

Cassidy is leaving the seat he first won in 2008 to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu.

The most prominent 6th District Democrat on the Nov. 4 ballot - an “open primary” in which all candidates run without regard to party - is 87-year-old former Gov. Edwin Edwards. Political observers say he is likely to earn a runoff spot but would have difficulty defeating a Republican in the conservative Baton Rouge-area district, given his age, a federal prison sentence for corruption, and the district’s conservative bent.

Pearson Cross, a political science professor at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, said Felder’s campaign appeared to have been making little headway with voters or in fund raising. He doubted that her departure would make a major difference in the race, but said it is a plus for Claitor. “It’s better that she endorse you than someone else,” he said.

Because of the late date of her campaign suspension, Felder’s name will remain on the ballot, as will that of little-known Republican Norman Clark, who has also suspended his campaign and endorsed Claitor.

When a candidate officially withdraws from the race by notifying election officials, notices are posted at polling sites and votes cast for the candidate are not counted, Secretary of State spokeswoman Meg Casper said in an email. Felder submitted her withdrawal Thursday. Clark had not formally withdrawn as of midday Thursday.

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