The decision by former U.S. Rep. Joseph Cao, R-New Orleans, not to contest the race for attorney general means one less item on the Oct. 22 primary ballot.

Incumbent Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, now without opposition, automatically will be returned to a second four-year term.

Cao served one term in the U.S. House. That he dropped his challenge to Caldwell — also a Republican — suggests intra-party fights have their limits this year: No statewide offices are contested by major Democratic candidates, so the political “action,” such as it is, was on the GOP side.

Caldwell switched parties while in office to become a Republican. But Caldwell worked closely with Gov. Bobby Jindal, and lately was endorsed by another GOP powerbroker, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La. That probably helped to convince Cao there would not be “official” GOP backing for a challenge.

Two races, though, include high-profile Republican battles: lieutenant governor and secretary of state. Incumbent Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne faces Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser; incumbent Tom Schedler is challenged for secretary of state by House Speaker Jim Tucker.

That a party-switcher such as Caldwell draws no opposition is striking. A switch is often like waving a red flag to his old party. But the disarray in Democratic ranks is so widespread the party had no big name to put up this year.