Incumbents win all in Louisiana congressional races

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana Rep. Clay Higgins won a fourth term Tuesday, fending off a challenge from prosecutor and fellow Republican Holden Hoggatt, who mounted a challenge focused in part on discontent with the pace of federal aid in reaching the state’s hurricane-battered southwestern region.

Hoggatt had garnered key bipartisan endorsements, including one from former Sen. John Breaux, a Democrat, and Charles Boustany, a Republican who was Higgin’s predecessor in Congress. But Higgins had key endorsements as well, from House Republican leaders Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise.

Higgins’ victory meant all members of the state’s U.S. House delegation — five Republicans and one Democrat — will return for the next Congress.

Clad in a leather vest and his familiar cowboy hat, Higgins bemoaned what he called the “nasty” tone of the campaign and expressed optimism that the GOP would regain control of the House.

“We need our liberal brothers and sisters to just get out the way, man,” Higgins said during a livestreamed speech he punctuated with Bible readings. “Just let us run this thing and enjoy the beautiful benefits of economic prosperity.”

Meanwhile, Scalise, in line to become House Republican leader were the GOP to regain the majority, expressed optimism that his party would prevail as he addressed a jubilant crowd at a suburban New Orleans restaurant. He hit on familiar Republican campaign themes in his victory speech, including the high price of gasoline and the need for policies to increase American oil production, while casting Democrats as soft on crime.

“When they started with ‘Defund the police’ and cashless bail — it has wreaked havoc over communities,” said Scalise, whose top opponent, Democrat Katie Darling, had garnered attention with an ad that featured scenes of her giving birth to her daughter.

Higgins, who faced seven challengers Tuesday, overcame charges that he unwisely missed opportunities to meet with President Joe Biden and administration officials to secure federal aide for the hurricane-battered state. He countered that he’s worked with the delegation to deliver more than $3 billion in federal money to help in the recovery from hurricanes Laura and Delta.

Under Louisiana’s unique primary system, all candidates run on the same ballot, regardless of party. In races where nobody won a majority, the two top finishers were to face off in a December runoff.

But no runoff was needed for any Louisiana member of Congress. Four other incumbent Republicans hail, like Higgins, from strongly Republican districts in GOP-dominated Louisiana. Mike Johnson from northwest Louisiana, had no opposition Tuesday. The others, Julia Letlow from northeast Louisiana; Garrett Graves, from the Baton Rouge area; and the House Republican Whip, Scalise, from suburban New Orleans, drew opponents who were not well known and lagged in fundraising. All easily won.

The same was true for the only Democrat and sole Black member in the state’s congressional delegation, Troy Carter, whose district stretches from New Orleans up the Mississippi River to Baton Rouge.

Higgins, a former car salesman whose second career was in law enforcement, gained fame for tough-talking anti-crime videos. He won an open seat in 2016 and won reelection twice while voicing support for former President Donald Trump.

Hoggatt, a lawyer and prosecutor, touted his record as a prosecutor and his stable family life while attacking Higgins, alluding to the incumbent’s sometimes controversial videos and social media posts and a former wife’s allegation that he once pointed a gun at her. Higgins vehemently denied that in a 2016 interview with The Associated Press.

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