Outlook: Likely Democratic
This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Watch List” of the next 25 House races worth keeping an eye on.
November 8, 2006 Update:
Democrat Charlie Melancon won re-election over Republican Craig Romero.
November 6, 2006 Update:
Rep. Charlie Melancon (D) will win reelection over Craig Romero (R). The race in the Bayou of southeastern Louisiana has been remarkably quiet, which is excellent news for the incumbent, Melancon. Sources tell us he continues to benefit from a post-Katrina “halo effect,” and we expect him to prevail on Election Day without the need for a December runoff.
August 23, 2006 Update:
Is there a post-Katrina “halo effect” working to Democratic freshman Rep. Charlie Melancon’s advantage here? It’s debatable. If it is, it’s certainly not working for Gov. Kathleen Blanco! In reality, Melancon seems a good stylistic fit for the district, and came across as an earnest advocate for his constituents in the aftermath of the calamity. The only factor leading us to keep this race in the top echelon is the size of Romero’s war chest.
June 29, 2006 Update:
Louisiana’s House races are notoriously late to take shape, but it is looking like this district might host the only battle in the Bayou worth watching in 2006. Democratic freshman Rep. Charlie Melancon has pointed to early poll results showing him with vast leads, and challenging GOP State Sen. Craig Romero has countered with endorsements from several Demcoratic state legislators. No one is sure what the electorate will look like here, but for now, we’ll bet on the incumbent, Melancon.
February 2006 Outlook:
In this, one of the most Katrina-ravaged districts along the Gulf Coast, politics is the farthest thing from many voters’ minds. In fact, it is unclear whether many of those residents who have been displaced in the hurricane’s aftermath will be back to vote here in 2006. Yet it is clear that when 2006 comes around, federal response to the storm will be a critical issue for debate.
Conservative Democrat and former sugar executive Charlie Melancon (pronounced mel-AN-sun) won a squeaker of a December 2004 Louisiana runoff over Bell Executive Billy Tauzin III, the son of the retiring senior congressman, in this Southeast Louisiana district. This proved once again that rural Pelican State voters prefer country charm over establishment credentials. But Melancon now faces a stiff challenge from GOP State Sen. Craig Romero, who Republicans hope will bring more gravitas to the race than their last candidate.
Given Melancon’s tiny margin of victory in 2004, the GOP is bound to pour resources into the district, but the ink Melancon has been given in the press lately should benefit him for some time to come, especially regarding his role in bringing to light the emergency response deficiencies of FEMA leadership during and after Katrina. We continue to rate this race a toss-up with a possible paper-thin advantage for the first-term Melancon.
Outlook: Solid Republican
November 8, 2006 Update:
Republican Charles Boustany won re-election over Democrat Michael Stagg.
Like its neighbor the 3rd District to the east, Louisiana’s 7th has been the scene of non-stop national news coverage, the difference being that most parishes here were hit hardest by Hurricane Rita. It almost goes without saying that reconstruction efforts and the government’s response to the emergency will be major campaign issues here in 2006. Surgeon and Republican Rep. Charles Boustany won this seat with a larger than expected majority in 2004’s December runoff and was the recent recipient of a fundraising visit from Vice President Dick Cheney. Still, should Democratic attorney Hunter Lundy enter the race, Boustany could face a real test of his strength within the district, but it looks as if he won’t be making the race.