Louisiana GOP Tensions Rise as Rep. Garret Graves Weighs Run in Redrawn District

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After the Supreme Court mandated Louisiana to adopt a congressional map featuring an additional black majority district, Rep. Garret Graves is contemplating entering a different House race, to the irritation of his fellow Louisiana Republicans.

Although the five-term congressman is keeping his options open, he is in a tough spot. Remaining in his 6th Congressional District poses a high risk of losing to his Democratic opponent due to the redefined district boundaries. Alternatively, running in another race, such as against Rep. Julia Letlow (R-LA), could strain his relationship with his party, which is encouraging him to stay put. Graves and Letlow reportedly share a close bond, and targeting her position would not sit well with many.

Louisiana GOP Tensions Rise as Rep. Garret Graves Weighs Run in Redrawn District
Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., walks into House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s office on, Tuesday, May 30, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

The redistricting came after a federal court determined the previous lines breached the Voting Rights Act, resulting in Graves’s district favoring President Joe Biden by 20 points. Despite this, Graves’s colleagues believe he still has a shot at winning. Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) cautioned Graves that he would lose party backing if he disrupted another GOP incumbent’s race.

“I am prayerful that Garret, my friend, will decide to continue serving Congress as he is now – as a congressman of the sixth district. And if he runs in that district — in his own district — he’ll find a tremendous amount of help from me and from other Republicans in the state,” Higgins told Politico. “The party apparatus will rally around him and support him. Whereas if he determines to run against a colleague, and I could be one of those, he’ll find that to be a very rocky path.”

According to Higgins, GOP leaders — including House Speaker Mike Johnson and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, both from Louisiana — are anxious about the prospect of Graves contending against another incumbent. With infighting already plaguing the House during the 118th Congress, further discord would be detrimental with November approaching.

Last week, the House GOP’s top four leaders endorsed Letlow. Former President Donald Trump and Gov. Jeff Landry (R-LA) have also thrown their support behind her.

The likely Democratic nominee in Graves’s district is Cleo Fields, a black state senator and former House member from the 1990s. Although the district now leans more Democratic, Graves still benefits from incumbency and financial resources.

Graves has until July 19 to make his decision — the deadline for candidate filings in the state.

Elaine Mallon
Elaine Mallon
Breaking news reporter.

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