While the nation’s electorate participated in the Republican “Tsunami” resulting in a near historic GOP victory in both congressional chambers last night, Louisiana voters chose instead to do the Cajun “Two-Step” and dance into the December 5th runoff to decide the Landrieu-Cassidy Senate race, as well as the LA 5th and 6th congressional seats. Painting the state “pink” instead of “red”, Pelican State voters moved the conservative needle slightly forward in the U.S. Senate and congressional races. With GOP statewide registration only just above 27%, a similar percentage of independent voters combined with a close to 50% turnout boosted Republican candidates to victory or runoff in several judgeships and lower level races across the state—activity that mirrors voter discontent with the Obama presidency and national policies affecting Louisiana citizens. Expecting these political dynamics and demographics to repeat in Louisiana’s Dec. 5 runoff, it is almost a foregone conclusion that Louisiana will elect a Republican U.S. Senator, maintain their five GOP congressional seats and add to the historic Republican congressional majority that will be seated in Washington DC next January.
Cassidy’s expected runoff victory in December against incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu will likely be the direct result of capturing Tea Party votes that initially went to Col. Rob Maness (202,413) in the primary, while her DEM voting base is expected to dwindle without any local runoff voting in the already-decided congressional districts: Scalise (R) in 1st; Richmond (D) in 2nd; Boustany (R) in 3rd; and Fleming (R) in 4th). The 5th congressional district has ousted short-term incumbent Vance McAllister, our infamous “kissing” congressman, and will instead vote again to elect either Jamie Mayo (D), Mayor of Monroe (28%) or Dr. Ralph Abraham (R) from Mangham (23%). Newcomer Zach Dasher (R) who attracted Duck Dynasty family support, and former congressman and PSC Commissioner Clyde Holloway (R) both did not make the runoff. Again, given our pink demographic alignment it is expected that Abraham will be elected next month by capturing the rest of the GOP vote that went to other primary candidates. In the Baton Rouge congressional 6th district, former Jindal disciple Garrett Graves (R) survived the 12-person field to meet former Gov. Edwin Edwards (D) in the runoff, with a similar result expected. These runoff victories will finally solidify Louisiana’s place in the GOP red color wheel—at least for now.
How last night’s results will affect our statewide elections in 2015 is somewhat uncertain. U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R) reiterated his desire to run for governor next year while vowing to work with the new Senate majority in an e-mail blast to supporters last night, but some political observers are already suggesting he may be asked to remain in Washington and concede next year’s governor’s race to either Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R) or Scott Angelle (R), two of the other top GOP state gubernatorial contenders. Again, not a likely scenario but perhaps the success or failure of the new majority GOP Senate agenda during the next two years will ultimately determine Vitter’s political future.
In other races important to the Louisiana business community, Foster Campbell (D) easily secured another term at the Public Service Commission in the Shreveport area. Not so lucky was incumbent Commissioner Eric Skrmetta (R) who, while capturing 37% of the primary vote, will be in a tight runoff battle with Forest Wright (R) who led Skrmetta with 38% or almost 4,000 more votes on the Northshore. The key for either will be to capture the other 25% of the vote, or 63,442 that went to a third GOP candidate, Allen Leone. With regard to incumbent legislators running for other offices this fall, Rep. Jeff Thompson (R), from House District 8 in Bossier City, was unopposed for state district judge; Rep. Hunter Greene (R) in Baton Rouge was elected as a family court (state district) judge; and Rep. Chris Hazel, HD 27 from Pineville is in a runoff for District Attorney in Rapides Parish.