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A GUIDE TO THE CONGRESSIONAL RACES: LOUISIANA

13 minute read
TIME

LOUISIANA

Population (1994): 4,315,000 (up 2.2% from 1990), 1.7% of U.S. total

Voting-age population: 3,100,000; 1994 turnout, 27%

Median age: 31 years

Median household income: $25,676 ($6,588 below U.S. median)

Unemployment: 6.2% (0.6% above U.S. average, March 1996)

Last presidential election: Clinton (D): 46% Bush (R): 41% Perot (I): 12%

Congressional delegation: Four Democrats, five Republicans

Louisiana has an exceptional past: until the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the land that would become the state had been colonized mainly by French, Spanish and French-speaking Acadians, and it has the strongest French cultural inheritance of any of the states. Louisianans have unfortunately also been poorer than most Americans, and have remained so–as of 1994 the state ranked 47th in median household income. Tough economic times in the mid-’80s led Louisiana to lean Democratic at the same time other Southern states were leaning Republican. More recently, however, the G.O.P. has crept back, leaving the two major parties almost evenly balanced.

CANDIDATE SOUP

If this year’s elections impel only a small portion of Louisiana voters to the polls on Nov. 5–the state had the second-lowest voter turnout among the 50 states in 1994, after Florida–it will be less a tribute to voter apathy than to the peculiarity of Louisiana’s open primary, which has already sent five of this year’s eight candidates for Congress to office. (All the major-party candidates, including the five victors, are profiled in this guide. Those who have already won are marked by shaded boxes.)

The open primary pits all candidates, regardless of party, against each other in an initial round of voting. If a candidate receives a majority of votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no one gains a majority, the top two votegetters advance to the general election. Since 1978 only 10 of 70 regular congressional elections have progressed to a November runoff.

This system, introduced by Democratic Governor Edwin Edwards in 1975, did weed out a costly round of primaries for a Democratic Party that, for all practical purposes, was the only party at the polls, the Republicans usually fielding a challenger in name only. But with the emergence of an increasingly stronger Republican Party, critics argue that it is time to abandon an electoral process that they claim dilutes party meaning and favors candidates–and their constituents–from the political margins. For example, many political observers believe that the open primary facilitated the rise of former Klansman David Duke.

But enough people have now been gored by the open primary to have prompted a lawsuit that charged the process violated federal election laws dating back to the 1870s. In July a federal court agreed. Though the ruling allowed the current election to continue, Louisiana could have seen its last open primary.

WOODY JENKINS (R) SENATE (OPEN SEAT)

BORN: Jan. 3, 1947, Baton Rouge EDUCATION: Louisiana State U, B.A., 1969; J.D., 1971 FAMILY: Wife, Diane; four children RELIGION: Christian MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Broadcasting executive POLITICAL CAREER: Louisiana House, 1972-; candidate for U.S. Senate, 1978, 1980 ADDRESS: 660 North Foster Drive, Suite C-201, Baton Rouge 70806. Tel.: 504-923-1700

The unexpected winner of this year’s Senate primary, Jenkins, a two-time loser for the Senate, gained the support of influential conservatives, including Governor Mike Foster. Jenkins also received a perfect score from the Christian Coalition and the Gun Owners of America. He would abolish the irs and repeal the federal income tax. As a state legislator, he authored the “shoot-the-burglar” bill, which gives homeowners the right to use deadly force when necessary to “prevent or terminate an unlawful entry.”

THE ISSUES Budget NR Medicare NR Defense NR Abortion NR Guns NR Gays NR Bosnia NR NAFTA NR Welfare NR National Service NR (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “I never voted for a tax increase.”

MARY LANDRIEU (D) SENATE (OPEN SEAT)

BORN: Nov. 23, 1955, Arlington, Va. EDUCATION: Louisiana State U, B.A., 1977 FAMILY: Husband, Frank Snellings; one child RELIGION: Roman Catholic MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Real estate agent POLITICAL CAREER: Louisiana House, 1980-88; Louisiana treasurer, 1988-96 ADDRESS: 841 Carondelet Street, New Orleans 70130. Tel.: 504-524-3669

Landrieu came in second to Woody Jenkins in the primary and now must cobble votes from the more moderate sectors of both parties to win in November. While adding her legislative voice to the chorus calling for lower taxes, a balanced budget and the preservation of Medicare, she has spent a career speaking out for the voiceless–fighting for tougher child-support laws and protection for battered women and children.

THE ISSUES Budget YES Medicare YES Defense NO Abortion YES Guns YES Gays YES Bosnia NO NAFTA YES Welfare YES National Service YES (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “Whether its creating jobs, improving living standards, or being a long-term solution to crime, improving education is the key to our nation’s future.”

ROBERT LIVINGSTON (R) District 1 (Southeast–Metairie; Kenner)

BORN: April 30, 1943, Colorado Springs, Colo. EDUCATION: Tulane U, B.A., 1967, J.D., 1968 FAMILY: Wife, Bonnie; four children RELIGION: Roman Catholic MILITARY: Navy, 1961-63; Naval Reserve, 1963-67 OCCUPATION: Lawyer POLITICAL CAREER: U.S. House, 1977- ADDRESS: 5163 General DeGaulle Drive, Suite 210, New Orleans 70131. Tel.: 504-392-6758

Livingston–running unopposed–has a flair for the theatrical. In his first appearance as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, he brandished two knives and a machete to show how he would cut the budget. Fortunately, from that powerful position he was also able to funnel federal money into Jefferson Parish’s Avondale shipyard, where he once worked summers to pay his college tuition.

THE ISSUES

Budget YES Medicare YES Defense NO Abortion YES Guns NO Gays YES Bosnia NO NAFTA YES Welfare YES Medical Leave NO (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we want a government that preserves and protects, but doesn’t suffocate…that is a resource, not a burden.”

WILLIAM JEFFERSON (D) District 2 (East–New Orleans)

BORN: March 14, 1947, Lake Providence EDUCATION: Southern U, B.A., 1969; Harvard U, J.D., 1972; Georgetown U, LL.M., 1996 FAMILY: Wife, Andrea; five children RELIGION: Baptist MILITARY: Army, 1969-75 OCCUPATION: Lawyer POLITICAL CAREER: Louisiana Senate, 1980-90; U.S. House, 1990- ADDRESS: 650 Poydras Street, Suite 2245, New Orleans 70130. Tel.: 504-524-8311

As a state Senator, Jefferson wrote Louisiana’s first Enterprise Zone Act, giving tax breaks to companies that locate in poor areas. In 1990 he became the first black Louisiana Congressman since Reconstruction. On Capitol Hill, Jefferson has been a constant advocate for the rights of children and the poor.

THE ISSUES

Budget NO Medicare NO Defense NO Abortion NO Guns YES Gays NO Bosnia NO NAFTA YES Welfare NO Medical Leave YES (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: [On growing up as the sixth of 10 children] “You had to grab the biscuits fast. Improved my speed. Helped my hand-eye coordination.”

BILLY TAUZIN (R) District 3 (South Central–Houma)

BORN: June 14, 1943, Chackbay EDUCATION: Nicholls State U, B.A., 1964; Louisiana State U, J.D., 1967 FAMILY: Wife, Cecile; five children RELIGION: Roman Catholic MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Lawyer POLITICAL CAREER: Louisiana House, 1971-80; U.S. House, 1980- ADDRESS: P.O. Box 1407, Thibodaux 70302. Tel.: 504-447-2186

In 1995, following a year of rumor, Tauzin changed parties because he believed the Democrats had become too liberal. Nevertheless, his politics have remained the same. During his 15-year tenure in the House, he has used his canny Cajun charm and legislative wile to effect change in diverse areas, such as cable and environmental regulation. As a member of the Resources Committee, he has led the conservative charge to protect the rights of property owners and has tended the interest of the state’s oil and gas industries.

THE ISSUES Budget YES Medicare YES Defense NO Abortion YES Guns NO Gays YES Bosnia YES NAFTA NO Welfare YES Medical Leave NO (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “I will be the first member of Congress to vote to scrap the federal income tax.”

JIM MCCRERY (R) District 4 (Northwest–Shreveport)

BORN: Sept. 18, 1949, Shreveport EDUCATION: Louisiana Tech U, B.A., 1971; Louisiana State U, J.D., 1975. FAMILY: Wife, Johnette; two children RELIGION: Methodist MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Lawyer; congressional aide POLITICAL CAREER: Candidate for Leesville city council, 1978; U.S. House, 1988- ADDRESS: P.O. Box 4650, Shreveport 71134. Tel.: 318-797-8356

Like many Louisiana politicians, McCrery flirted with the idea of running for the Senate seat Bennett Johnston is giving up. He opted instead for the security of a sure congressional victory–which he now has. He will return to the House to begin two more fiscally conservative years, trying to lower taxes, slash the budget and cut the deficit.

THE ISSUES Budget YES Medicare YES Defense NO Abortion YES Guns NO Gays YES Bosnia YES NAFTA YES Welfare YES Medical Leave NO (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “The proponents of multiculturalism have simply become too fixed on our differences. Whatever our ancestry, we are Americans, not hyphenated Americans.”

JOHN COOKSEY (R) District 5 (Northeast–Alexandria and Monroe)

BORN: Aug. 20, 1941, Alexandria EDUCATION: Louisiana State U, B.A., 1962, M.D., 1966; U of Texas, M.B.A., 1994 FAMILY: Wife, Ann; three children RELIGION: Methodist MILITARY: Air Force, 1967-69; Air Force Reserve, 1969-72 OCCUPATION: Ophthalmologist POLITICAL CAREER: None ADDRESS: P.O. Box 7600, Monroe 71211. Tel.: 318-325-1996

Cooksey wants the government out of everyone’s hair–and pocketbook. The eye doctor, who has raised money for a clinic in Kenya and occasionally performs eye surgery there, would lower taxes, eliminate the departments of Energy and Education and declare a moratorium on new federal regulations. In this newly created district, made up largely of conservatives, that should give him an edge, which he would need against the more politically savvy Francis Thompson.

THE ISSUES

Budget NR Medicare NR Defense NO Abortion YES Guns NO Gays NO Bosnia YES NAFTA NO Welfare YES Medical Leave NO (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “Our tax dollars are the fuel that makes possible the ever-increasing intrusion of federal rules and regulations into all of our lives.”

FRANCIS THOMPSON (D) District 5

BORN: Oct. 29, 1941, Delhi EDUCATION: Louisiana Tech U, B.S., 1963, M.S. 1971; Northeast Louisiana U, Ed.D. 1977 FAMILY: Wife, Marilyn; three children RELIGION: Presbyterian MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Professor POLITICAL CAREER: Louisiana House, 1976- ADDRESS: P.O. Box 2253, Monroe 71207. Tel.: 318-330-9771

Thompson often sounds more Republican than Democrat in this conservative district. Like other Democrats, he supports medical and family leave and vows to protect Social Security, but he also opposes abortion and supports workfare. In our schools, he would like to see more “respect for authority” and points with pride to his support in the Louisiana House for bills that would allow school prayer. Along with his opponent, he would reduce the tax burden on the middle class.

THE ISSUES Budget NO Medicare NO Defense NO Abortion YES Guns NO Gays NO Bosnia NO NAFTA NO Welfare YES Medical Leave YES (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “I have been in private business…I know what it means to pay business taxes and do meaningless government paperwork.”

RICHARD BAKER (R) District 6 (East Central–Baton Rouge)

BORN: May 22, 1948, New Orleans EDUCATION: Louisiana State U, B.A., 1971 FAMILY: Wife, Kay; two children RELIGION: Methodist MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Real estate broker POLITICAL CAREER: Louisiana House, 1972-86; U.S. House, 1986- ADDRESS: P.O. Box 1694, Baton Rouge 70821. Tel.: 504-262-0125

Elected to the Louisiana House as a Democrat at age 24, Baker switched to the G.O.P. in 1985 and has earned a reputation as one of the most conservative members of Congress. By Louisiana law, his 69% majority in the open primary clinches his sixth House term. His support for NAFTA and GATT isn’t surprising in a district that includes Exxon’s Baton Rouge manufacturing complex, home of the nation’s second-largest chemical-manufacturing facility.

THE ISSUES

Budget YES Medicare YES Defense NO Abortion YES Guns NO Gays YES Bosnia YES NAFTA YES Welfare YES Medical Leave NO (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “I am clearly one of the more fiscally conservative members of the House, and a very staunch supporter of deficit reductions and responsible governance.”

CHRIS JOHN (D) District 7 (Southwest–Lake Charles; part of Lafayette)

BORN: Jan. 5, 1960, Crowley EDUCATION: Louisiana State U, B.A., 1982 FAMILY: Wife, Payton Smith RELIGION: Roman Catholic MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Transportation-business owner POLITICAL CAREER: Crowley city council, 1983-1987; Louisiana House, 1988-1996 ADDRESS: P.O. Box 971, Crowley 70527. Tel.: 318-783-4203

The Sept. 21 primary guaranteed that a Democrat would fill the seat of Republican incumbent Jim Hayes, who failed this year in his bid for the Senate. John, who beat fellow Democrat Hunter Lundy, might be called the more moderate of the two conservatives. But like Lundy, he is antiabortion, supports a balanced budget and less government interference. And John hopes to ride his primary victory to a general-election win to become the revamped Seventh’s first representative.

THE ISSUES Budget NO Medicare NO Defense NO Abortion YES Guns NO Gays NO Bosnia YES NAFTA YES Welfare YES Medical Leave YES (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “The Federal Government’s role in education is to provide guidelines, but not to teach them from Washington.”

HUNTER LUNDY (D) District 7

BORN: July 22, 1954, Lake Charles EDUCATION: Millsaps College, B.B.A., 1976; Mississippi College, J.D., 1980 FAMILY: Wife, Beth; three children RELIGION: Baptist MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Lawyer POLITICAL CAREER: None ADDRESS: 400 7th Street, Lake Charles 70601. Tel.: 318-497-0855

As an antiabortion, balanced-budget candidate running on a platform of family values and faith, many might assume that Lundy is a Republican. In fact, he’s a Democrat in the conservative, Southern tradition. A former Sunday-school teacher, Lundy opposes cuts in education and wants to make schools the responsibility of local government. Cajun country will choose between two Democrats on Nov. 5, but with both running on almost identical issues, this race could be tres close.

THE ISSUES Budget NO Medicare NO Defense YES Abortion YES Guns YES Gays NO Bosnia YES NAFTA NO Welfare NO Medical Leave YES (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “When I saw Congress shut down government twice over politics…I felt it was time to make a contribution…[F]aith and values need to be addressed.”

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