LA-03: Cook has it at R+12, and McCain took the district with 61% of the vote in 2008. Its current incumbent Charlie Melancon is widely believed to be planning to challenge Senator Vitter next year, but the NRCC is going to be whaling on this one any which way:
In recent months, the NRCC had been ratcheting up the pressure on the three-term Congressman with a radio and print media campaign challenging his claims of being a fiscal conservative and criticizing him for his votes on issues such as the economic stimulus bill. In addition, the committee has continually promised to put up a well-known, well-funded challenger in 2010 regardless of whether Melancon opts to leave the House behind.
With Melancon’s jump to the Senate race now seen as likely, the committee believes it has an even better shot of flipping a district that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won with 61 percent in 2008.
“After months of being confronted with negative ads and hostile crowds, it seems clear that Charlie Melancon has decided he’d rather risk losing statewide than be defeated for re-election,” NRCC spokesman Paul Lindsay said Monday. “This is a district that has trended more conservative while Melancon has become more liberal.”
At the moment, it’s still up in the air who is going to be the candidate for either side; once Melancon declares one way or the other it’ll shake out probably very quickly. The problem for Louisiana Democrats in either re-electing Melancon to this seat, or electing another Democrat, was summed up by one of the area Democrats who won’t run:
“I don’t have any plans at this point” to run, [Sheriff Jeff] Wiley said.
He said that his pro-business, pro-gun, anti-abortion-rights views wouldn’t “mesh well” with Democratic leaders in Washington, D.C. He also pointed out that his support of Republicans such as Gov. Bobby Jindal, Rep. Bill Cassidy (La.) and former Rep. Richard Baker (La.) probably wouldn’t go over well with national party officials.
When your own party members are intimating that your party is anti-business, you have a problem. Particularly when the next election will be taking place in the middle of a dismal economy that your party has had two years to fix, and hasn’t. I’d feel sorry for Melancon, but he made his own choice when he decided that fiscal responsibility was less important than not having the Speaker of the House mad at him.