Saturday's election to decide congressional seat

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Voters were deciding Saturday which of Louisiana's congressmen is to be pushed out because of the state's shrinking U.S. House delegation, answering a question created two years ago with the latest federal census data.

Republicans Charles Boustany and Jeff Landry were forced into the same district - the 3rd District covering southwest Louisiana and Acadiana - when the state lost a congressional seat because of anemic population growth.

The two men were in a runoff election to determine who returns to Congress next year.

The congressional race has been attack-heavy, since both men have run as conservative Republicans opposed to the policies of President Barack Obama and have had little philosophical ground in which to distinguish themselves.

"The race itself has kind of brought out the worst elements on both sides. It's one of the reasons people are fed up with politics," said Pearson Cross, chairman of the political science department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The district design favored Boustany, a traditional Republican candidate allied with House Speaker John Boehner. A doctor from Lafayette, Boustany was seeking a fifth term.

Landry, the tea party favorite, has tried to build grassroots support from his GOP base on the eastern end of the district and on the strength of his tea party backing. A lawyer from New Iberia, Landry was running for a second term.

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.

Boustany described his GOP opponent as a good ol' boy politician who would say anything to get elected, habitually skipped votes in Congress and spread distortions about Boustany's record to distract voters from his own lack of accomplishments.

Landry criticized Boustany as lacking the courage to make tough votes for his district and instead following in lockstep with Washington Republican leaders even if south Louisiana voters didn't support the policy.

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, raising nearly $2 million more than Landry, according to the most recent campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal didn't issue an endorsement in the race, steering clear of the GOP dispute.

Also on the ballot was a runoff for an open seat on the Louisiana Supreme Court representing the eight-parish Baton Rouge region. The seat is vacant because Chief Justice Catherine "Kitty" Kimball is retiring at the end of January.

Two appeals court judges were vying for the job: John Michael Guidry, a Democrat and former lawmaker from Baton Rouge, and Jeff Hughes, a Republican and former district court judge from Livingston Parish.

Whoever wins the race will be sitting on a court expected to face headline-grabbing challenges in the upcoming year, including a decision on whether the financing for Jindal's state-funded private school tuition program is unconstitutional.

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