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December 04, 2008

Lousiana: the final frontier

On Saturday, Louisiana voters will head to the polls with the opportunity to put a final flourish on House Democrats' successful 2008 election cycle.

Democrats are trying to pick off one last Republican-held seat — of retiring Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.) — to expand their sizable majority in the House. Their candidate, Caddo Parish district attorney Paul Carmouche, boasts strong law-and-order credentials and has been trumpeting his conservative, Christian values on the campaign trail.

Carmouche is running against Republican John Fleming, a businessman and physician.  Fleming defeated McCrery's handpicked candidate in the Republican primary.

Republicans have accused Carmouche of being soft on crime, arguing he failed to prosecute several felons, while Democrats have portrayed Fleming as a wealthy businessman who isn't tough enough on illegal immigration and is out of touch with the middle class.

In order for Carmouche to win, he needs heavy African-American turnout in a district where the majority of the Democratic base is black. The Shreveport-area district leans Republican, so Carmouche also needs enough support from conservative whites along with solid turnout from the district’s black base.

In hopes of boosting black turnout, President-elect Barack Obama recorded a radio ad urging voters to show up on Saturday to support Carmouche. The ad, reminiscent of his efforts during the Georgia Senate runoff, was targeted to African-American radio stations.

The DCCC also distributed an e-mail from Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, calling on Democrats to donate to Carmouche’s campaign.

But that’s about all that Obama and his operation have done. There have not yet been any robo-calls from Obama reminding voters to show up on Saturday. And the field organizers from Obama’s presidential campaign, which were plentiful in Georgia, are entirely absent on the ground in Louisiana.

“This is entirely a Carmouche and DCCC operation,” said one Democratic operative on the ground.

On the Republican side, popular Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) cut a television ad for Fleming, while Vice President Dick Cheney held a fundraiser for him in October.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has poured over $1.15 million into the race, while the National Republican Congressional Committee has spent $950,000.

UPDATE: One other piece of involvement from the president-elect: Incoming First Lady Michelle Obama has recorded a robo-call for Carmouche, complementing her husband's radio ad.