Baton Rouge state Sen. Cleo Fields is first out of the gate in the campaign for Louisiana’s new majority Black 6th Congressional District, but others are also considering the race from the district’s western, central and northern borders from Acadiana to Alexandria to Shreveport.
Louisiana’s Legislature created the state’s second majority Black district last week and Republican Gov. Jeff Landry signed the map into law Monday to avoid the threat of a federal judge determining the boundaries after two years of court battles.
Landry and lawmakers chose to create the new 6th District boundaries by dismantling the current configuration represented by Republican 6th District Congressman Garret Graves, putting his incumbency in peril.
Graves told USA Today Network this week is running for reelection, but it’s unclear whether he would run in the 6th District or another that is more favorable to Republicans. To do that, Graves would have to challenge one of his incumbent GOP colleagues.
“I can’t sit here and talk about hypotheticals,” said Graves, who said he believes the new map will be challenged in court and won’t hold.
Fields, who served in Congress in the mid-1990s, confirmed his intention to run.
“I will formally announce my candidacy in the next several weeks, but I want to be clear I am a candidate,” Fields said in a statement. “My focus will remain the same as it has always been to work and fight for the people of Louisiana.
“Throughout my career in state and congressional service, my focus has always been on leading the effort to help the people of Louisiana from my Baton Rouge Senate district all the way to Shreveport in my congressional district.”
Democrat Gary Chambers Jr., a well-known activist and businessman from Baton Rouge who has run two credible but ultimately unsuccessful campaigns for the U.S. House and Senate, said he is evaluating the race, but has other considerations like his 14-year-old daughter who starts high school next year.
“We have demonstrated we can raise money and have a base, but does it work for me and my family at this time?” Chambers said.
On the western boundary, state Democratic state Sen. Gerald Boudreaux of Lafayette said he is considering the race.
“I’m doing my due diligence and definitely taking a look at it,” Boudreaux said.
In the central part of the district, former Democratic Alexandria Mayor Jeff Hall, who also served in the state House, is testing the waters.
“It’s right in my wheelhouse,” Hall said. “Certainly I’m interested.”
And on the northern border of the district, former Democratic Shreveport state Sen. Greg Tarver is considering a campaign for the seat.
“I’m going to explore it,” Tarver said.
Just as important as who’s in the race or considering it is who’s out.
Democratic Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome is focused on reelection and won’t run, her spokesman told USA Today Network.
U.S. Small Business Administration regional Administrator Ted James, who served in the state House before being appointed to his current job by President Biden, is expected to leave his position as soon as this week to begin campaigning for Baton Rouge mayor against Broome rather than run for Congress.
And Democratic Shreveport state Sen. Sam Jenkins said he won’t run for Congress but will be focused on supporting a candidate who he believes will makes a commitment to Shreveport.
“Shreveport can’t be an afterthought because Baton Rouge will be the population hub of the district,” Jenkins said.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.