September 05, 2003
Most Challenged House Incumbents
The last Fax Weekly reviewed the four formidable challenges to members of the Legislative Black Caucus in the House. Here's a survey of the most challenged incumbents in the rest of the House.
Emma Devillier (D-Plaquemine). Wounds are still fresh from Devillier's 1999 defeat of former state Rep. Audrey McCain, whose former legislative assistant Karen St. Germain is now running against Devillier. Shannon Ourso, the brother of Iberville Parish President Mitch Ourso, is also running, but the parish leader has not thrown his support to any candidate. St. Germain is the only House challenger to be endorsed by LABI.
Jim Fanin (D-Jonesboro). Elected in February to finish Congressman Rodney Alexander's term, Fanin now faces three opponents, including Todd Culpepper, whom he beat earlier. But the toughest challenge could come from wealthy nursing home owner Tommy Bankston, a former school superintendent in Winnfield who knows his way around the Capitol from lobbying for his industry.
Greg Fruge (R-Eunice). Though Fruge seeks a third term, it's never easy for a Republican to get elected in rural Acadiana. Eunice City Marshall Mickey Guillory, a Democrat, has put together a good campaign with the aid of the state party. It doesn't help Fruge that he is not on good terms with the chancellor of LSU Eunice, who was at Guillory's announcement.
Mickey Frith (D-Abbeville). The two-term lawmaker faces Rebecca Shirley, the director of the Kaplan Chamber of Commerce, in a district that has grown more conservative from reapportionment and new residents. Frith's voting record did not rate an automatic LABI endorsement, but he got it anyway, given that his is not a strong pro-business district.
Tommy Wright (D-Jena). Wright, who survived a close challenge in 1999, faces four opponents, three of them Republicans. Most formidable is thought to be Henry Stringer of Trout.
Damon Baldone (D-Houma). The first-term legislator and attorney faces business owner O'Neal Marlborough, whose father-in-law was the late Sen. Leonard Chabert. Yet the map has changed some since Leonard's day, as the coastal district now goes further up the bayou, which is good for Baldone. Baldone has earned the LABI endorsement and has sent every chronic voter a bottle of hot sauce with his picture on it.