Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise is seeking a fourth full term representing the 1st Congressional District, stressing his conservative credentials.

Victory in his suburban New Orleans district him translates into virtually assured re-election by his GOP colleagues to House Majority Whip, the third highest leadership post in Congress.

Three candidates are challenging Scalise — all arguing that he’s part of the Washington gridlock that’s hurting Louisiana and the country as a whole.

On the ballot are Lee A. Dugas and M.V. “Vinny” Mendoza, both Democrats, and Jeffry “Jeff” Sanford, a Libertarian.

Dugas decries the Washington “obstructionism”; Mendoza the influence of special interests; and Sanford government’s over-regulation.

They are facing an uphill battle against the 49-year-old Scalise, who has garnered no less than two-thirds of the votes cast in each of his prior election victories.

Scalise has cash on hand as of Oct. 15 of nearly $765,000. His opponents reported no contributions to the Federal Election Commission.

Scalise, a former state legislator from Jefferson, won a special election in 2008 to finish the unexpired term of then-Congressman, now Governor Bobby Jindal. He’s moved into party leadership roles of late — first as chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a conservative caucus, then earlier this year the whip’s job, which he said gives Louisiana influence.

The 1st District includes all or parts of St. Tammany Parish, Tangipahoa, Jefferson, Orleans, St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes.

Scalise promised to “continue to fight for conservative values” in a new congressional term.

“My top priority to focus on is getting the economy back on track and spending under control in Congress,” said Scalise.

Scalise said the continuing raid of the Social Security trust fund to pay for budget spending is a classic example of why “we need to get spending under control.” To preserve Social Security “the first thing we need to do is stop allowing congress to raid the trust fund,” he said.

Scalise said he will continue to work to repeal the federal Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, and put in its stead an alternative that puts patients back in charge of their health care decisions. “You don’t do it with mandates and taxes,” he said.

On immigration, Scalise said “the first thing we need to do is secure the border and enforce existing laws ... People should have to get in line and come to the country legally.”

Dugas, a 52-year-old disabled Desert Storm veteran from Kenner, said Scalise “started out OK” representing the 1st District. But then, she said, he became a “lap dog” for House Speaker John Boehner and the Koch brothers, billionaire businessmen who promote conservative causes and candidates.

“I am disabled. I’m on a fixed income. I know what it’s like to feel like you don’t have a voice, the representatives not listening,” said Dugas. “Nobody’s paying attention. That’s what I’m running for — to let people know they do have a voice.”

Dugas said the federal Affordable Care Act “did a lot for me ... It’s not going to fit everybody, but personally it has reduced my medical costs.” The former emergency medical technician favors Medicaid expansion.

On immigration, Dugas said there should be a path to citizenship for those who have been in the United States.

Dugas does not believe there is a problem with long-term funding of Social Security. “As long as there are people working, Social Security is going to be fine,” she said. She said talk of it going broke is “a scare tactic.”

Mendoza, a 55-year-old U.S. Air Force retiree from Ponchatoula, has challenged Scalise in the past. “I live by the code of duty and country before self,” he said.

“ To me Scalise is not doing enough for the people of the 1st District,” said Mendoza. “He’s not doing enough for low income people ... I have concerns for the people in the 1st District. That’s my main motivation.”

An organic farmer, Mendoza said he wants a clean environment. He said he is against the process of extracting oil and gas known as fracking because of the damage it does to water supplies and the earth.

Mendoza favors Obamacare and the Medicaid expansion which he said would help many district residents.

Like Scalise, Mendoza said efforts should be directed at safeguarding Social Security “to make sure nobody touches that money.”

He promotes a light rail commuter system to help the area’s economy and help people get to jobs. He also favors the legalization of hemp farming .

Immigration reform “is needed ASAP,” said Mendoza. He said many of those in the U.S. today are from Mexico and central America and he considers them natives of America.

Sanford is a 49-year-old lawyer based in Baton Rouge , who owns a house in Grand Isle . He ran for a seat on the Louisiana Supreme Court in 2012.

Sanford said he is running because “ t he two-party system we have right now does not serve the people so much as serve the officeholder, government employees and their big money backers . ”

“I run independent of the two parties” wh ich, he said, is “ key for us to have a federal gover n ment responsive to the people .”

Sanford said Obamacare is “the most visible and obvious symbol of overregulation.” Other examples are the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education.

“As an American citizen I feel like America needs to be expanding its border rather than building a fence and hiding inside,” Sanford said. “We need to expand our borders and grow out of debts.”

“If we could expand our borders that would make all citizens in north America citizens of the U.S.” He said there should be a referendum. “We should welcome that as an expansion of American sovereignty.”

Social Security is a property right, said Sanford. “ T h e people paid into Social Security. I believe they should keep getting it,” he said.

Sanford said people who have paid into Social Security and are within a certain number of years of being able to draw it should get it under existing terms. “The rest of it should be paid back, with interest ... and phase out Social Security,” he said.