U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, picked up the backing Tuesday of Republican Party leaders from two-thirds of the parishes in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District as he seeks to oust fellow GOP incumbent congressman Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette.
Landry has been endorsed by the Republican Party executive committees in Acadia, Iberia, St. Martin, St. Mary and Vermilion parishes.
The endorsements line up support from parish GOP hierarchy as Landry works to chip away Boustany’s advantage in a district redesign that favors Boustany because it contains much of his prior district.
The two congressmen were forced into the same district when Louisiana lost a congressional seat after the latest U.S. Census, a rare contest this election cycle in which sitting lawmakers are running against each other.
“The (parish executive committee) just decided that Congressman Landry was going to be our most reasonable voice in an otherwise unreasonable room full of D.C. politicians whose liberal ideas just continue to chip away at our conservative fundamental values,” said Beau Beaullieu, chairman of the Iberia Parish Republican Party.
Of the nine parishes included in the congressional district, Landry has endorsements from the Republican parish executive committees of six parishes. Another two parishes don’t have GOP executive committees.
Only the leadership of the Republican Party in Lafayette Parish — where Boustany lives — hasn’t endorsed either candidate.
The two sides differ on the implications of the support.
Landry’s campaign says the endorsements show a surge in momentum for Landry.
“I think what it’s showing is that the conservative Republican base is abandoning Boustany, and they’re moving toward Jeff,” Landry campaign manager Phillip Joffrion said.
Landry described the parish-level officials as “the activists” of the district who help with grassroots outreach to other voters.
Boustany’s campaign said the backing of a small list of party officials doesn’t mean a broader group of Republican voters are behind Landry. Boustany campaign manager John Porter said the parish executive committees only include a “handful of people” in the district.
“Jeff Landry is now trying to strong-arm select individuals in these parishes to endorse him and trying to sell it as the Republican Party is endorsing him, which I think is just wrong,” Porter said. “To say that they speak for a broader group of people, or even a broader group of Republicans is far-fetched to say the least.”
Landry also announced the written endorsements from nearly two-thirds of the district’s members of the Republican Party of Louisiana’s state central committee, the governing body for the state GOP.
A freshman lawmaker, Landry is a tea party favorite who is running as a Washington outsider while portraying Boustany, a fourth-termer and ally of House Speaker John Boehner, as an establishment Republican who is disconnected from his constituents. Boustany frames his opponent as a reckless obstructionist who doesn’t work to get legislation passed.
It’s unclear whether the endorsements of party leaders will translate to on-the-ground work for Landry. When contacted, several parish GOP chairmen said they were still deciding what type of campaigning, if any, they will do to support Landry.