A question from Rhonda Peterson of Arlington, Va.:
I think of myself as a "Congress watcher" but I keep coming across members of Congress from Louisiana and I have no idea who they are. Was there a statewide special election and I was asleep? Who are these guys?
Well, a lot depends on how long you were sleeping. Here's a quick look at the seven members of the Louisiana House delegation and how they got there:
1st CD — Steve Scalise (R). Seat was long held by Bob Livingston (R), who resigned in 1999 and was succeeded in a special election by David Vitter (R). Vitter left the seat to run for the Senate in 2004 and was succeeded by Bobby Jindal (R). When Jindal was elected governor, on his second try, in 2007, Scalise won the special election to replace him.
2nd CD — Anh "Joseph" Cao (R). Cao defeated longtime Rep. Bill Jefferson (D), who was mired in scandal, in 2008.
3rd CD — Charlie Melancon (D). When Billy Tauzin (R) decided to retire in 2004, Melancon beat his son, Billy III, by 569 votes, in the closest House election of the year. Melancon is vacating the seat this year to challenge Vitter for his Senate seat.
4th CD — John Fleming (R). Fleming won the seat vacated in 2008 by Republican Jim McCrery by just 350 votes.
5th CD — Rodney Alexander (R). Back in 1992, a new district, then the 4th, was created, and it was won by Cleo Fields (D), an African-American. In January 1996, the state's congressional lines were redrawn after a federal three-judge panel ruled that this district was unconstitutionally configured to elect a black candidate. Fields, who unsuccessfully ran for governor the year before, decided not to compete in the new CD and retired. John Cooksey (R) won the seat in the '96 election but gave it up six years later in a losing bid for the Senate. Alexander, then a Democrat, succeeded him that year, but his margin of victory was just 974 votes. Immediately prior to the filing deadline in 2004, Alexander switched to the GOP and has won re-election handily ever since.
6th CD — Bill Cassidy (R). After Richard Baker (R) resigned in February 2008 to become a lobbyist, Democrat Don Cazayoux defeated Republican Woody Jenkins in a widely-followed special May election to succeed him. But Cazayoux's career in the House was brief, losing in November of that year to Cassidy.
7th CD — Charles Boustany (R). Boustany won the seat in 2004 when the incumbent, Democrat Chris John, made an unsuccessful bid for the Senate.