Yesterday, voters in Louisiana's 3rd District went to the polls to decide the last Congressional election of 2012. Veteran Congressman Charles Boustany defeated Freshman Congressman Jeff Landry, winning around 60% of the vote to Landry's 40%.
The lawmakers were forced to run against each other as a result of the state's redistricting process. Louisiana lost a seat in the reapportionment and drew the congressman into the same district. Neither won 50% of the vote in the November election, which featured several candidates, forcing yesterday's runoff.
Landry had won his seat in 2010 with strong backing from local tea party groups. The media and some pundits will no doubt to try to spin his defeat in the runoff as another defeat for tea party candidates. But, that would be a gross oversimplification.
Boustany had represented, for many years, around 80% of the voters in the new district. That's a considerable advantage that would be very hard for Landry to overcome. While Boustany is firmly in the "establishment" wing of the GOP, he is a mainstream conservative, which provided few opportunities for Landry to differentiate himself.
Boustany also sits on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which allowed him to enjoy a significant fundraising advantage over Landry.
In the end a conservative congressman defeated a slightly more conservative one. It's not the story the media will want to tell, but it's the story that's true.