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|Why the 4th District matters|
Northeastern Louisiana residents should look westward.
More specific, they should pay close attention to the congressional race in the 4th District of Louisiana, which stretches from the Arkansas line to the DeRidder area, southwest of Alexandria. Texas borders the 4th District in the West, while the heart of Louisiana, or the center of the state from the Arkansas line southward, serves as the district's eastern border.
Geographically, the 4th is a big district, though the Shreveport/Bossier City metropolitan area is home to some 65 percent of the registered voters in the 4th. It is there, as well as among motivated voters in rural areas, that the race to name Congressman Jim McCrery's successor will be won or lost.
McCrery is the Republican who has represented the 4th since his election in a special election in 1988. He succeeded Buddy Roemer, who was elected governor in the fall elections in 1987.
McCrery is retiring from the U.S. House of Representatives. He has plans to become a lobbyist.
Oddly, McCrery has endorsed Jeff Thompson in the 4th District race. Thompson, a graduate of then-Northeast Louisiana University, is a trial lawyer who is a registered Republican. Thompson also once served on a campaign steering committee for Caddo Parish District Attorney Paul Carmouche.
Ironically, Carmouche, a Democrat, qualified for the 4th District race, too, though he will face token opposition in the Sept. 6 party primary elections. In other words, Carmouche is a shoe-in for a shot at McCrery's seat in the November general election.
Thompson can't say the same.
No, Thompson will face two well-financed candidates in the Republican primary. They are Dr. John Fleming and Chris Gorman.
Gorman is a young man who works for his father's trucking company, Tango Transport. It's a highly successful venture that employs hundreds of people in northwestern Louisiana.
Fleming practices medicine in Minden. He also owns a host of Subway restaurants, and he is a distributor of franchise rights for United Parcel Service retail locations.
In short, Fleming is a self-made man who has made a boat load of money. Now he wants to be a congressman.
According to Fleming's own polls, he is in the driver seat to secure the Republican nomination, or the right to face Carmouche in the general election.
Yet, why is the 4th District congressional race important to northeastern Louisiana?
It's important because the winner in the 4th District race in 2008 could very well represent northeastern Louisiana in the U.S. House in the very near future.
In two years, the U.S. Census Bureau will recount the country's population. Those figures will be used by state legislative bodies throughout the country, including Louisiana, to redraw congressional districts in the 50 states.
Since shifts in population determine how many congressional districts will exist in each state, it is probable Louisiana will lose a congressional district because the state's population growth lags behind population trends in other states, or other regions of the country. That means Louisiana most likely will lose one of its seven congressional districts, leaving us with six.
Since some two-thirds of Louisiana's population resides south of Interstate 10, northern Louisiana most likely will say good-bye to a congressional district. Instead, we most likely will see one congressional district created for all of northern Louisiana north of Alexandria.
That means the congressman for a northern Louisiana congressional district who is elected following the 2010 census count will hail from an area that's home to the largest base of population. Of course, that would be the Shreveport/Bossier City area.
Thus, the candidate who prevails in this fall's congressional race in the 4th District will have an inside tract in taking in any congressional race once a single congressional district is carved out for all of northern Louisiana.
And that's why the 4th District race of 2008 is important to the residents of northeastern Louisiana.