Editor’s note: This post has been updated on Dec. 11, 2012.
With the results of the last U.S. House race of 2012 in, the pundits and political prognosticators are beginning to point out that this was a run-off between two Republican U.S. Representatives in Louisiana: one closely associated with the tea party and Grover Norquistâ??s anti-tax pledge; the other associated with the GOP establishment.
So when Rep. Charles Boustany won the race on Saturday over fellow representative and tea party favorite Jeff Landry by a margin of 3 to 2, the natural conclusion was that somehow this was a mandate for compromise by House Republicans with the White House on raising tax rates.
The problem with this analysis is that it doesnâ??t hold water. For whatever the small differences between Boustany (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 91 percent) and Landry (lifetime ACU rating: 96 percent) — albeit on significant issues — this was a contest that was less about issues than simple unfavorable redistricting.
â??Chuck had 2/3 of the new district from his old district, so he was pretty assured of winning,” noted former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.).
â??In those parishes that I represented, we did extremely well,â? Landry himself told the Shreveport Times Sunday. â??In those parishes that he represented, he did well. Itâ??s kind of tough when seven out of 10 of those parishes were his.â?
Two years ago, first-time candidate Landry made headlines when he forced the former speaker of the state House of Representatives into a run-off election in a race for the old 3rd District. Backed by the local tea party organizations, insurgent Landry won handily. Last year, he voted against lifting the debt ceiling and vowed to do so again. When redistricting cut up his district, he considered running for state attorney general and then decided to compete in the new district against four-termer Boustany. Backed by the FreedomWorks conservative group and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-.S.C.), Landry hit hard at Boustany for voting to lift the debt ceiling and refusing to sign Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform anti-tax pledge (Boustany in fact did sign the ATR pledge and Norquist’s organization congratulated both lawmakers on signing on their pledge).
But physician-congressman Boustany reminded voters he had been a spirited opponent of Obamacare and had a strong anti-tax record of his own on the House Ways and Means Committee. That, and the fact he went into the race as a quasi-incumbent because he represented so much more the district than Landry, were enough for an easy win.