The 4th District U.S. House seat is an open one because current Republican U.S. Rep. John Fleming, who has served four terms (eight years), is running for the U.S. Senate.It is a political plum that doesn’t come open very often. It has been in Republican hands since 1988. More on that later.
So, it’s not surprising that five Republicans have already announced they are running. They are, in alphabetical order, Dr. Trey Baucum of Shreveport, former state Sen. and candidate for Lt. Governor in 2015 Elbert Guillory of Opelousas, Shreveport City Councilman Oliver Jenkins, Shreveport attorney Rick John, and Bossier state Rep. Mike Johnson.
But is a viable Democratic candidate looming on the political horizon? Marshall Jones, a well-known Shreveport attorney, says he is being encouraged to run and is giving it serious consideration.
It would not be the first political rodeo for Jones. He ran for the 4th District seat at the age of 33 in a special election in March 1988 to replace Buddy Roemer who had been elected governor, but didn’t make the runoff.
Former Roemer aide Jim McCrery was the lone Republican in a field of 10 candidates. He finished first in the primary and wound up in a runoff with then Democratic state Sen. Foster Campbell.
McCrery won a nail-biter, defeating Campbell by 426 votes out of 126,654 cast. He would represent the district until he did not seek re-election in 2008 and retired.
There was a brief period in the early 1990s after the state lost a congressional district that McCrery represented the 5th District because the Legislature had made the 4th District a majority-black district. That plan was eventually thrown out and McCrery was put back in the 4th District.
Jones has always been involved in politics in one form or another. He was campaign chairman for four successful candidates who ran for office. They are:
*Mike Pitman for Caddo District Judge (2002).
*Frances Jones Pitman for Caddo District Judge (2008).
*Judge Frances Jones Pitman for 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal (2012.
*Judge James E. Stewart for Caddo Parish District Attorney (2015).
Democratic leaders believe that Jones, who is viewed as a conservative Democrat, would be a viable candidate with a good shot at winning the race at this particular time when the Republican Party seems to be in disarray at the state and national levels.
The 4th District was once considered the most conservative in the state and the country as well. But with the state losing two districts because of population non-growth, and after two reapportionments, it is no longer such.
It now has a significant number of black voters, who traditionally vote for a Democrat.. Currently, voter registration figures reveal that 62% are white, 34% black, and 4% other races. By party affiliation, 45% are Democrats, 30% Republicans, and 25% Other Party/No Party.
And Democratic leaders see the election of Democrat John Bel Edwards as governor as a sign that the political pendulum many be swinging back to a more moderate philosophy.
A Democrat like Jones, who has deep pockets, would certainly spice up the race. Some pundits believe it will take at least $1 million or more to win the seat.
The 4th District is comprised of all of Allen, Beauregard, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, DeSoto, Evangeline, Grant, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine, Union, Vernon, and Webster parishes and part of St. Landry Parish.
About 50% of voters are in Bossier and Caddo parishes. Of the total number of registered voters in the 4th District – 469,068 – Bossier and Caddo is home to 234,616, which makes it difficult for anyone outside of the two parishes to mount a viable campaign.
An Aside: Guillory is black, but a Republican, and he will be trying to woo black voters as well. But, as noted, most blacks tend to vote for a Democrat.
by Lou Gehrig Burnett