Louisiana GOP congressional delegation qualifies for reelection, eyes House leadership

Greg Hilburn
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Louisiana's Republican congressional delegation qualified for reelection this week with an eye toward reclaiming control of the House as a party and individually rising up the ranks of power.

GOP Reps. Garret Graves, representing the capital region and bayou country, Clay Higgins, representing Acadiana, Julia Letlow, whose sprawling district includes Monroe and Alexandria as the population hubs, and Steve Scalise, who represents New Orleans suburbs and part of bayou country, all qualified on the final day for the Nov. 8 election.

Republican Congressman Mike Johnson, whose 4th District includes Shreveport-Bossier City as the population hub, qualified earlier this week was reelected without opposition.

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U.S. Rep. Troy Carter, Louisiana's only Democratic member of Congress who represents New Orleans and part of Baton Rouge, also qualified on the first day.

Republicans are favored by virtually all analysts of regaining the majority in the House following the fall elections.

That means Louisiana's Republican representatives are in line to land plum assignments if they win reelection. All are favored in their races, though all have drawn opponents this week.

Republican Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise speaks after qualifying for reelection on July 22, 2022.

And all touted their potential leverage for the state as part of their reelection pitches.

At the top is Scalise, who is the minority whip and could rise to majority leader if Republicans gain control, which would place him in the No. 2 leadership position in the House behind only the speaker, who is favored to be Kevin McCarthy of California.

He said House Republicans plan to release their "Commitment to America" in the spring in the vein of the 1990s-era "Contract with America."

Scalise said the document will outline priorities and strategies for energy, border security, taming inflation, and education.

Republican Louisiana Congressman Garret Graves speaks after qualifying for reelection on July 22, 2022.

"The majority leader sets the agenda for the House floor and is in charge of all the committees," said Scalise, noting Louisiana's last majority leader was the late Democratic New Orleans Congressman Hale Boggs in the 1970s.

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Johnson has seen a rapid rise during his first three terms, most recently winning a leadership post as vice chair of the Republican Caucus. His position there appears secure with any outside chance of becoming a caucus chair.

Higgins is set to become the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee after the retirement of New York Congressman John Katko and is angling for the chairman's position if he's reelected in a GOP House.

"We are working to address rising inflation, restore economic prosperity, secure our southern border, unleash American energy production and protect constitutional freedoms," Higgins said in a statement. "With a new Republican majority in 2023, we will aggressively confront the Biden administration."

Graves is already the top Republican on the Aviation Subcommittee of Transportation, setting the stage for a promotion there.

"I'm excited about the opportunity to build on our success," Graves said. "(McCarthy) has already asked me to lead the agenda for energy and climate conservation and I expect to be chair of Aviation. It gives Louisiana a seat at the table."

Republican Louisiana Congresswoman Julia Letlow speaks after qualifying for reelection on July 22, 2022.

Letlow has already landed a spot on the powerful Appropriations Committee, a rare feat for a freshman, and Scalise said her "Parents Bill of Rights" will be incorporated into the Republicans' "Commitment to America" if she wins reelection.

"Appropriations literally holds the purse strings for the country," Letlow said. "Louisiana hadn't had a seat on (House) Appropriations for 10 years. It's very important for Louisiana to have a seat at that table." 

Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.