BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Democrats have been unable to attract candidates for each of Louisiana's U.S. House races, with the Nov. 6 election sign-up period winding to a close Friday.
All of the state's congressional representatives drew opposition for their re-election bids by Friday, though several face challenges from little-known candidates who have done no fundraising so far. The filing deadline is 5 p.m. CDT Friday.
Libertarians filed paperwork to run in more congressional races than did Democrats, as the Democratic Party continues to struggle in a state where Republicans have gained significant ground in recent election cycles and the moderate "Blue Dog" Democrats who once held most statewide offices have dwindled.
Democrats signed up to run in three of six congressional districts. Libertarian candidates qualified for five of the races
"I just think it shows the decline of the Democratic Party," said Jason Dore, executive director of the Republican Party of Louisiana.
The most high-profile congressional race is in the 3rd District, where two Republican incumbents - Charles Boustany of Lafayette and Jeff Landry of New Iberia - were placed in one district after Louisiana lost a congressional seat due to redistricting.
A Democratic candidate emerged Friday as Ron Richard, a Lake Charles personal injury lawyer who's never run for office, signed up for the race a few hours before the candidate qualifying period ends. He joins GOP and Libertarian challengers for the seat. They will all square off in an open contest on Nov. 6.
"The working men and women of south Louisiana need somebody working for them, and I quite frankly just don't see it with the two incumbents," said Richard, who said he plans to pour his own money into the race.
Richard showed up with the head of the Louisiana Democratic Party, state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson. The party's leader for three months, Peterson expressed no disappointment about failing to draw a full slate of congressional candidates.
"I've consistently said we are going to be strategic and targeted in what we do as a party," she said. "We are rebuilding. I'm excited about where we are."
President Barack Obama's approval ratings remain low in Louisiana, and the state has trended firmly red in recent elections. Democrats couldn't attract a well-funded challenger to Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal in 2011, or even a full slate of candidates for all seven statewide positions on the ballot. The GOP held those elected jobs, and have taken the majorities in both the state House and Senate.
Democrats hold one of Louisiana's congressional seats - in the 2nd District, represented by U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond of New Orleans. With the district redrawn and now stretching up the Mississippi River to Baton Rouge, Richmond attracted several opponents from different parties. But the Democratic Party was expected to hold onto the majority black district.
"The dynamics there aren't in our favor," Dore acknowledged. "I hope we can help there, but it will depend on what kind of resources are available."
Louisiana Secretary of State's Office: www.geauxvote.com