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Graves eyeing re-election but wouldn't necessarily choose to stay in same district

1 month 4 hours 46 minutes ago Friday, May 17 2024 May 17, 2024 May 17, 2024 3:27 PM May 17, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE — U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, whose political career faces peril at the hands of Gov. Jeff Landry and the Louisiana Legislature, said Friday he will seek re-election to Congress but doesn't know whether he'll try to keep his current seat or attempt to replace one of his colleagues.

Landry and lawmakers this year sacrificed Graves' safe seat after a federal court said Louisiana must create a second majority-Black district rather than hold elections with just one. A three-judge panel of federal judges threw out a map adopted in January, but the U.S. Supreme Court this week ordered its use for 2024.

In a statement Friday, Graves said the Supreme Court, acting "lazily," put process over merit and is forcing Louisiana to use an unconstitutional, confusing map. He said there was plenty of time for Louisiana to prepare for an election, given its "last-in-the-nation qualifying and last-in-the-nation November primary."

Graves' current south Louisiana-based 6th District will stretch from Baton Rouge to Shreveport for the upcoming election. The 5th District, now based largely in northeastern Louisiana, extends Rep. Julia Letlow's district into Baton Rouge and more than half of the Florida Parishes.

The bulk of the 488,000 voters in Letlow's current district are largely in northeastern and north central Louisiana. With the new boundaries, Letlow's district will run from the Arkansas border north of Bastrop down to Baton Rouge and then eastward to the Pearl River.

By far, most voters in the new district will be closer to Baton Rouge than Letlow's home at Start in Richland Parish.

“As previously stated, we are running for re-election in a district anchored in the Capital Region. Because of the absurdity of the map, we are looking through these districts to determine where we can best represent the interests and priorities of the people of Louisiana for the next two years until a reasonable map is restored," Graves said in a statement.

Because the U.S. Supreme Court decision order covers only the 2024 election cycle, Louisiana lawmakers will be on the hook again to draw new boundaries for 2026.

“The bad news is that Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling is only a temporary calm before the gathering storm of uncertainty for at least 2 more years, possibly more," Graves said.

Letlow's campaign referred back to a statement she made Wednesday, when the Supreme Court ruled.

"Throughout this process, I've committed to run for re-election in the Fifth District," she said then. "In the months ahead, I look forward to continuing to listen to voters, working to earn their trust and support."

Meeting at Shreveport last month, the three-judge panel said race was too great a factor in drawing Louisiana's second majority-Black district. According to testimony, the governor and some lawmakers wanted to sacrifice Graves' seat both in an effort to preserve boundaries for House Speaker Mike Johnson and Majority Leader Steve Scalise, and to punish Graves for not backing Landry for governor.

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