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« Early Advantage For Maffei | Blog Home Page | Morning Thoughts: Another Super Tuesday »

A Super Saturday For Scalise?

The special primaries in Louisiana's 1st District take place Saturday, when both parties will select their nominees for the special election to serve the remainder of the 110th Congress. The seat became vacant when Republican Bobby Jindal was elected governor and sworn into office in January.

Four Republicans are vying for the nomination, including State Senator Steve Scalise, who may have a geographical, as well as financial, advantage over the other three candidates. While most of the district's area is composed of the three counties north of Lake Pontchartrain, a large portion of the voters have resided just to the south, in Uptown New Orleans, Metairie in Jefferson Parish, and a section of St. Charles Parish.

As New Orleans City Business reports, Scalise is the only candidate hailing from the South Shore; State Rep. Tim Burns, Slidell Mayor Ben Morris and attorney David Simpson reside on the North Shore. Though no North Shore candidate has ever been elected to Congress in this district, City Business writes, for the first time a "strong majority" of the district's voters now live on the North Shore, a demographic change caused by Hurricane Katrina.

This would have hurt Scalise in a two-person primary race, but with three candidates splitting the North Shore vote, Scalise should win the primary with ease. Still, he will need to win 50 percent to avoid a runoff. If the primary does go to a runoff, Scalise will have a huge cash advantage. As of February 17, the final financial reporting date before the primary, Scalise had some $360,000 in the bank, more than 10 times the cash-flow of his closest competitor.

Democrat Gilda Reed is expected to easily win the Democratic primary. If Scalise and Reed both win 50 percent in their respective primaries, the special general election will be held April 5. If either party goes to a runoff, the runoff will be held April 5, with the general then moved to May 3. With the 1st the most Republican district in the state -- Bush won 71% here in 2004 -- the winner of Saturday's GOP primary is heavily favored to win the seat.

--Kyle Trygstad