National parties skip La. 3rd District race

Published 11:59 pm Sunday, October 24, 2010

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Democratic candidate Ravi Sangisetty appears to be on his own in the race for southeast Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District. So, for that matter, is Republican Jeff Landry.

Despite a flurry of multimillion dollar campaign ads and assistance pouring into congressional districts around the nation, the Democratic and Republican U.S. House campaign committees aren’t spending their cash on the 3rd District in Louisiana, suggesting they don’t believe the race is a competitive one.

The advantage in the Nov. 2 election is given to Landry, in a district that overwhelmingly backed John McCain in the last presidential race and in a state trending more and more to the GOP each federal election cycle.

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The head of the National Republican Congressional Committee said he thinks Landry’s going to win and doesn’t need any assistance from his organization to cruise to victory.

“We’re involved in a nationwide effort of putting money where we’re battling competitive races. I do not think this is the kind of competitive race where we have to come,” said U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, the NRCC chairman, as he campaigned with Landry in Breaux Bridge. “I think (Landry) has proven his own ability to stand on his own two feet.”

Seeming to concede the race, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee doesn’t even list Sangisetty on its website outlining the races and candidates it’s tracking around the country.

A spokesman for the DCCC wouldn’t say that the organization has given up on Sangisetty’s campaign, but he did acknowledge no money has been spent so far on the 3rd District — and none is planned yet, with less than two weeks before the election.

“We re-evaluate our spending decisions on a daily basis,” said Jesse Ferguson, with the Democratic campaign committee. “We’re evaluating where we think we’re most effective.”

Sangisetty’s done little to drum up national party enthusiasm for his campaign.

He’s running as a “pro-life, pro-gun conservative Democrat.” He’s complained of Democratic-backed policies, including spending levels. He’s also said if he’s elected and the Democrats maintain the majority in the House, he won’t vote for Speaker Nancy Pelosi to retain her job, saying Pelosi doesn’t share Louisiana’s values.

Sangisetty spokesman Bobby Pierce said his candidate isn’t trying to get the support of the national Democratic establishment and notes that Sangisetty has the endorsement of Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat.

“But as you know, Ravi came out early and said he wouldn’t support Nancy Pelosi for speaker. That didn’t earn him too many friends in D.C.,” Pierce said. “Ravi is focused on earning the support of voters in this district, not party officials in Washington.”

The 3rd District is mostly rural, covering all or part of 13 parishes stretching from Acadiana across much of southeast Louisiana. Both candidates are lawyers, Landry from New Iberia and Sangisetty from Houma. Neither man has held elected office.

No recent independent polls have been done in the race, and Landry leads on the campaign fundraising side. He had to spend much of the cash in a nasty primary battle, but the most recent round of campaign finance reports show him with far more money on hand as well.

Landry had $176,000 in his campaign account, compared to $26,000 for Sangisetty, through the middle of this month.

The seat is open because Rep. Charlie Melancon, a Democrat, is running for the U.S. Senate.