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After Vitter’s Loss, Louisiana Republicans Seeking Promotions

Fleming was the first, but a number of other ambitious Louisiana Republicans are considering whether they want to move up to Washington through Vitter's loss. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Fleming was the first, but a number of other ambitious Louisiana Republicans are considering whether they want to move up to Washington through Vitter's loss. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If Republican Sen. David Vitter — whose loss to a Democrat in the Louisiana governor’s race last month prompted his announcement that he would not run for re-election — was the first domino to fall, on Monday, he finally knocked over the second one.  

Rep. John Fleming, R-La., officially announced his candidacy for Vitter’s now-open seat with a Web video  in which he portrayed himself as a “passionate conservative” who has fought the leadership of his own party. And Fleming could soon be joined in his party’s primary by Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., whose spokesman Jack Pandol said he “is planning a formal announcement event in Louisiana” in the coming weeks.  With the two of them looking for a promotion — a move that would require them to free up their seats for the first time in about a decade — more dominoes could fall even further down the ballot as a number of other ambitious Republicans consider whether they want to move up to Washington, D.C.  

Even though he has yet to make his Senate bid official, Boustany’s 3rd District is attracting quite a crowd of potential candidates, according to Pelican State Republicans. The list includes state Sen. Stuart Bishop, outgoing-Lafayette mayor Joey Durel, state Rep. Brett Geymann, state Rep. Nancy Landry and Gregory Ellison, an Army veteran and a Lafayette gas company executive .  

“I think Ellison could potentially be one to watch,” said an unaffiliated Republican with knowledge of the district. “I’d imagine he has some capacity to self-fund. He’s just going to have a really tough time if Scott Angelle gets in.”  

Angelle, one of the two Republicans who lost to Vitter in the gubernatorial primary in October, is an elected member of the state’s Public Service Commission who lives in Boustany’s district. Bolstered, in part, by coming in just 4 points behind Vitter in the governor’s race, he is considering joining Boustany and Fleming in the Senate race.  

If he were to run for the 3rd District seat, “Angelle would have the best name ID right now, but he’s still seen as a Dem-flip by a lot of conservatives and his close ties to [Gov. Bobby] Jindal will not be helpful either,” said another Louisiana Republican operative. “If those other candidates get in — namely Bishop — they would take a lot of his local support and fundraising.”  

No candidates have officially launched their campaigns for the House, and the races could take some time to develop. Louisiana’s filing deadline is not until June and the candidates will not face the voters until Nov. 8, the date of the general election, at which point the races could go on to runoffs later in 2016.  

In Fleming’s 4th District, at least three state lawmakers, Rep. Mike Johnson, Rep. Alan Seabaugh and Sen. Barrow Peacock, are looking at running for the seat, a source familiar with the district said.  

Both lawmakers are “strong and popular” in their state legislative districts, a Louisiana Republican operative said, and that strength could translate upward. Johnson hails from Bossier Parish, while Seabaugh is from Caddo Parish. Both areas, which split Shreveport, hold the two largest concentrations of voters in the district.  

The 4th District, which Fleming has won with large margins ever since 2008, is rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call. But, at least one Democrat, former Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover, is considering his own campaign.  

After Vitter’s Loss, Louisiana Republicans Eye His Senate Seat

Louisiana Governor’s Election Continues Tradition of Unusual Party Splits

Louisiana Campaigns Tread Water Until Vitter’s Race

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