BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Four of the state's incumbent Republican congressmen coasted to re-election victories Tuesday, while the battle between GOP U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany and Jeff Landry headed to a December runoff.
As expected, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney easily won Louisiana's eight electoral votes against President Barack Obama.
U.S. Reps. Steve Scalise of Metairie, John Fleming of Minden, Rodney Alexander of Quitman and Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge had no well-financed opposition seeking to unseat them, giving them largely free rides to new terms.
But Landry and Boustany were merged into the same congressional district when Louisiana lost a House seat after the last federal census. Three other contenders were in the 3rd District race, and neither congressman was able to win outright in the five-person field.
Boustany led the pack and quickly declared himself the front-runner for the Dec. 8 runoff election.
"Emerging with highest total of votes shows south Louisiana's clear choice for Congress. In a five-way race, this campaign finished on top. My campaign will continue to build on today's momentum, and I look forward to finishing the job," he said in a statement.
Landry claimed he has the advantage in a runoff, noting that more than 50 percent of the people in the district voted against Boustany though the district's design was supposed to favor him.
"This was Charles Boustany's district. He's been saying that the entire time. The majority of people voted against Charles Boustany," Landry said. "On Dec. 8, we finish the job."
In Louisiana's other congressional race, Democratic incumbent Cedric Richmond was ahead of his four opponents, but it was unclear late Tuesday night whether he would win outright or face a runoff.
Other items to be decided by voters included constitutional amendments. The most attention-grabbing amendment was overwhelmingly approved, setting a tougher standard for restricting the use of weapons and removing a provision that gives the Legislature explicit authority to limit concealed handguns.
An open seat on the state's utility regulatory agency, the Public Service Commission, went to Scott Angelle, a former official in Gov., Bobby Jindal's administration. He easily bested four competitors.
The contest for a vacant Louisiana Supreme Court seat representing the Baton Rouge area won't be decided until a December runoff.
Turnout was brisk across the state.
In the presidential race, Romney's success in Louisiana had been so expected that neither the former Massachusetts governor nor President Barack Obama did much campaigning in the state in advance of the election, focusing on battleground states.
Romney received 59 percent of the vote in Louisiana with nearly all precincts reported.
The outcome of most of the state's U.S. House races seemed to have been decided in August, when few well-financed challengers signed up to oppose incumbent congressmen.
But at least one of the state's GOP members of Congress won't return in January.
Boustany and Landry were fighting for the 3rd District seat covering southwest Louisiana and Acadiana in a bitter battle laden with attack ads and accusations of lies and dirty tactics.
The two congressmen tried to stake out much the same philosophical territory, both running as conservatives, leaving them to distinguish themselves largely by slamming each other. Landry was running as the tea party favorite, while Boustany was considered a more traditional Republican candidate.
Louisiana's other Republican congressmen had little organized competition:
—Alexander, the dean of Louisiana's U.S. House delegation and a contractor, was first elected to Congress in 2002. He'll be entering his sixth term representing the 5th District, which includes Monroe and Alexandria.
—Scalise, a former state lawmaker, will be entering his third full term in the 1st District that covers suburban New Orleans and coastal southeast Louisiana.
—Fleming, a doctor and owner of Subway and UPS stores, also will be taking a third term in the northwest Louisiana-based 4th District.
—Cassidy, a doctor and former state senator, was first elected to the Baton Rouge-based 6th District seat in 2008. He's considered to be a likely opponent for Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu when she runs for re-election in 2014.