I am not sure if any other state can match this percentage, but at this moment in Louisiana politics half of its members in the U.S. House of Representatives are doctors. That is three out of six. Lawyers have always been the dominant profession in politics, but medical people are showing strength.
In this our annual Best Doctors issue, we have a list of doctors who earned votes from their peers for their medical performance. Around the state, some doctors have been getting support from voters too, such as Charley Boustany, a cardiovascular surgeon, who represents the Third District Lafayette/Lake Charles area as well as Bill Cassidy a physician from the Baton Rouge area Sixth District and upstate Fourth District representative Charles Fleming a family practitioner. Keeping an eye on all this is Ophthalmologist John Cooksy who represented the mid-state Fifth District from 1997-2003.
All of the above are Republicans, which is probably the overwhelming party of most doctors nationwide. (Only one Louisiana congressman, New Orleans area’s Cedric Richmond is a Democrat.)
Why doctors have done so well in congressional politics is due to several reasons:
• By nature of their profession, doctors need to have an interest in politics. There is a continuous flow of proposed laws and regulations that they will want to have a voice in. For better, or worse, medicine and politics go together.
• Most doctors are independent businesspeople, so they have the flexibility to set their hours and define their practice as they want to. More than those in many professions, they can make a congressional career fit their life.
• Most doctors are affluent and can afford to get involved with politics.
• Overall, the medical profession has a positive image among voters who, at least, regard doctors as being smart. Voters might not trust all doctors, but they trust theirs.
• Louisiana is a very conservative state (at least outside of the New Orleans area). It is a good place to be a doctor/politician.
By the end of the year the percentage might have changed a bit. Cassidy is running for Mary Landrieu’s senate job, so he’ll have to give up his house seat; though, if he wins, the state’s delegation in the senate will be half doctors. For Louisiana at least the phrase “the doctor is in” could be an answer to a quorum call.