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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Amid the holiday frenzy, hunting schedules and football watching, political contenders are hoping they can persuade their core supporters to vote Saturday in runoff elections around Louisiana.
Forty-six of Louisiana's 64 parishes have races on the ballot, according to Meg Casper, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office.
The most high-profile competition is the attack-laden congressional race between Republican U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany and Jeff Landry, both seeking to represent southwest Louisiana and Acadiana in Congress.
Also on the ballot is a runoff for an open seat on the Louisiana Supreme Court representing the eight-parish Baton Rouge region and a list of scattered local races. More than 100 issues, from police chief and mayor jobs to local tax issues, are up for final decisions.
In the congressional race, Pearson Cross, chairman of the political science department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said people in the 3rd District are ready for the election to be over.
"We've pretty much stooped as low as we can go. There's mud on everybody. This hasn't been an uplifting race about deeply held ideals in American politics," Cross said Friday.
Boustany and Landry were forced into the same district when Louisiana lost a U.S. House seat after the latest federal census.
The district design favored Boustany, a traditional Republican candidate allied with House Speaker John Boehner and seeking a fifth term. Landry, the tea party favorite running for a second term, has tried to build grassroots support from his GOP base on the eastern end of the district.
Though they had three other challengers in the November election, the two congressmen have campaigned as though it was a two-man race for months.
Both men have run as conservative Republicans, leaving them little philosophical territory about which to fight, so they've traded attacks. Each man has called his opponent a liar and accused him of distorting congressional records.
The race has been one of Louisiana's most expensive congressional contests, with nearly $6 million spent between the two men and even more from outside groups. Boustany had a significant edge in fundraising, bringing in nearly twice as much money as Landry, according to the most recent campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
The Supreme Court seat in the Baton Rouge area is vacant because Chief Justice Catherine "Kitty" Kimball is retiring at the end of January.
Saturday's runoff for the position is between two appeals court judges: John Michael Guidry, a Democrat and former lawmaker from Baton Rouge, and Jeff Hughes, a Republican and former district court judge from Livingston Parish.
Hughes got a significant boost from outside spending by a political action committee that includes attorneys who represent landowners in contentious "legacy lawsuits," that seek millions in damage claims from oil and gas companies for drilling contamination years ago.
Whoever wins the race will be sitting on a court expected to face attention-grabbing challenges of Gov. Bobby Jindal's recent education and retirement initiatives. The court will decide, for example, whether the financing of Jindal's voucher program violated the state constitution.
Casper said turnout statewide in Saturday's election is expected to range from 15 percent to 20 percent.
"Where there are contentious races like the congressional runoff, we expect maybe as high as 25 percent, but statewide we're definitely expecting low turnout," she said.
Online: A list of elections on the ballot around Louisiana is available at www.geauxvote.com
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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