Rep. John Fleming (R)
Elected: 2008, 1st term.
Born: July 5, 1951, Meridian, MS .
Education: U. of MA, B.S. 1973, M.D. 1976.
Family: Married (Cindy); 4 children.
Military career: Navy, 1976-82
Elected office: Webster Parish coroner, 1996-2000
Professional Career: Physician; Businessman
The new Congressman from the 4th District is John Fleming, a Republican who narrowly won in December 2008. He prevailed following three tough contests in two months. A physician, Fleming had little political experience, other than a four-year term in the 1990s as coroner of Webster Parish. He grew up in Meridian, Miss., the son of a utility substation operator who worked two or three jobs to make ends meet. His father died of a heart attack just before Fleming finished high school. His mother was disabled and so relied on Social Security to support Fleming and two younger siblings. After undergraduate and medical school at the University of Mississippi, he spent six years in the Navy, where he did his medical residency. He later opened a family medical practice in Minden, La., and as a sideline, operated 30 Subway restaurants in the state and had a stake in 130 UPS stores, from Mississippi to Texas. He also wrote a book called Preventing Addiction: What Parents Must Know to Immunize Their Kids Against Drug and Alcohol Addiction. In 2007, Fleming was on the social services advisory council of Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s transition team.
|John Fleming (R)||44,501||(48%)||($1,828,695)|
|Paul Carmouche (D)||44,151||(48%)||($1,844,290)|
|Chester Kelley (I)||3,245||(4%)||($39,510)|
|John Fleming (R)||43,012||(56%)|
|Chris Gorman (R)||34,405||(44%)|
|John Fleming (R)||14,500||(35%)|
|Chris Gorman (R)||14,072||(34%)|
|Jeff Thompson (R)||12,693||(31%)|
The competition for the seat began when influential Rep. Jim McCrery, the ranking Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, announced his retirement in December 2007. (He later joined a Washington lobbying firm.) The early front-runners for the GOP nomination were trucking-company executive Chris Gorman and Bossier Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Thompson, who was supported by McCrery and the National Republican Congressional Committee. In the first round of voting, which was delayed a month because of Hurricane Gustav, Fleming led with 35%, to 34% for Gorman and 31% for Thompson. Next came a runoff campaign with Gorman. Both men held similar, conservative views, emphasizing the need to reduce federal spending and taxes, and both spent heavily. Fleming spent over $1 million, much of it his own money, while Gorman spent $1.8 million. Fleming captured the nomination 56%-44%.
Democrats lined up early behind Paul Carmouche, a 30-year Caddo Parish district attorney who styled himself as a centrist Blue Dog Democrat and ran an anti–abortion rights, anticrime campaign. Fleming emphasized his own conservative credentials, calling himself a Ronald Reagan Republican and emphasizing his opposition to abortion rights and support for gun ownership. He called for abolishing the Internal Revenue Service and replacing the current income-tax system with a national sales tax. And he said he favored tough measures against illegal immigrants, decrying an “invasion by illegal aliens.” Fleming out-raised Carmouche $1.4 million to $1.2 million and got a big helping hand from the NRCC.
On Dec. 6, 2008, Fleming won by 350 votes. Carmouche led 57%-39% in Caddo Parish, which cast 43% of the vote. He also took four rural parishes outside Shreveport. Fleming ran strongly in the southern part of the district and in Bossier, which had the second largest vote and became the swing parish. He won there 61%-34%. In the House, Fleming got seats on the Armed Services and Natural Resources Committee and said that he expected a competitive re-election contest in 2010.