Rep. Jeff Landry may not have gotten the memorandum from the GOP, so I’ll reiterate from the outside: when it comes to redistricting, give it your best shot to get a district you can win, but don’t make a spectacle of yourself. That Landry to date hasn’t followed that script might jeopardize a promising political career.
The other five Louisiana Republicans in the House of Representatives have forged a gentlemen’s agreement that the post-2010 Census map of the state, dictating a loss of a district due to slow population growth statewide, should end up as a slight extension of the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth, a slight retrenchment of the First, a major extension of the Second, and the merging of the Third and Seventh. This makes Rep. Charles Boustany of the Seventh the odd man out among reelected members in having to face Landry of the Third.
Landry protests this arrangement that the others will press on the state Legislature that must perform this remapping. He favors a “coastal” district which would maximize the area covered by his current Third. The proposal favored by the others would chop up much of his and the new district would be mostly the existing Seventh, adding more to the advantage that Boustany would have in a heads-up match already he enjoys by his three previous terms in office.
One can’t fault Landry for trying to increase his odds for self-preservation, but his vocal, accusatory approach that blatantly identifies politics as the main driver behind the plan not only does not serve him well, but neither the truth to some extent. Indeed, the GOP incumbents protecting themselves as best they can registers as part of their reasoning, but remove this criterion and on more objective standards that plan still appears superior over Landry’s preference.
For such a map as his to be drawn – across every coastal parish – requires some odd looking other districts with odd company thrown together. In various iterations, Lake Charles ends up paired with Shreveport, parts of the greater Baton Rouge and/or Lafayette areas together with Monroe, and produces a district snaking 100 miles up the Mississippi from New Orleans East to central Baton Rouge. The simple fact is the population distribution of the entire population within the state as well as the black population around Orleans Parish and white population hemmed in around the Northshore forces these kinds of outcomes for a coastal district. These seem to be districts less able to represent distinct communities of interest than ones anchored around Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport heading south, one tucked onto the Northshore reaching into Orleans suburbs, another with Monroe and Alexandria at its ends, and one with Lake Charles, Lafayette, and New Iberia.
As for his own career interests, Landry’s aspersions about some anti-populist cabal running the process threaten to put a stop to an upward trajectory in Republican political circles. As noted before, even if he finds himself out of office after one term, Landry’s ascent by no means would be finished. He could challenge for the Senate in 2014, or if Boustany did he would be a big favorite to slide into that seat (assuming Boustany wins in 2012). He also could serve in state government.
But if he continues to rail about this, that will not please party regulars or the other representatives, all of whom can provide invaluable help to him in future campaign endeavors. Not that he should go down quietly, but neither should he protest so vigorously with such rhetoric. Complaining too much gets one marked as too temperamental to be a coalition-builder that can go on to bigger and better things. In this matter, Landry risks creating that kind of reputation.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 07:00