Louisiana: GOP favored in runoffs

By Hastings Wyman –

“Republicans are favored across the board” in the Dec. 10 runoff, says Trey Ourso, a political consultant (D). On Nov. 8, Louisiana held its “jungle primary” in which all candidates regardless of party appear on the same ballot; to win, a candidate had to get a majority of votes cast. In the races without a majority winner, the top two vie in a runoff.

Three major races will be decided in runoffs on Dec. 10. In the US Senate contest to replace retiring incumbent David Vitter (R), State Treasurer John Kennedy (R) faces Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D). In addition, there are congressional runoffs in two districts.

The data confirms Ourso’s assessment of the GOP’s bright prospects. In an independent poll taken in mid-November, Kennedy easily outdistanced Campbell by 48% to 27%. When leaners were included, Kennedy garnered 58% to 35% for Campbell. The poll was taken by Atlanta-based Trafalgar Group. Republicans also led in the two congressional runoffs.

Baton Rouge-based pollster Bernie Pinsonat says that Democrat Campbell’s chances are “slim and none. He may do a little better than Hillary Clinton,” who garnered 38% in the Bayou state. He also notes that Republican Kennedy won the votes “of more white Democrats than either Campbell or Fayard.” Kennedy, moreover, “is a good candidate. He’s the most popular elected official in Louisiana.”

Despite some hostile attacks across the board, both parties are united as they moved into the runoff. On the Republican side, unlike in the bitter 2015 gubernatorial campaign which led to the GOP’s loss, the also-rans have endorsed Kennedy, including both US Reps. Charles Boustany (R) and John Fleming (R). For the Democrats, Caroline Fayard (D) endorsed Campbell.

Ourso says that Campbell “is raising a good bit of money… getting money not only in state but also from around the country.” He also notes that Campbell is on television a lot.

Republicans are also ahead in the two congressional districts that were not settled on Nov. 8.

In the 3rd District (Lafayette, etc.), the seat will stay with the GOP since both of the runoff contenders are Republicans. In the Trafalgar survey, former sheriff’s captain Clay Higgins led with 41% to Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle’s 33%. When leaners are counted, Higgins led with 49% to 42% for Angelle; 14% were undecided. According to Trafalgar spokesman Robert Cahaly, reported in The Advocate, Higgins got most of the Trump voters while Angelle led among establishment Republicans and Democrats. An internal poll taken for Higgins showed him with a 50%-33% lead.

Ourso calls the 3rd District race “the biggest shocker … Angelle presumed he would waltz in, but is in a real dog-fight.” Angelle has been endorsed by the NRA and the state sheriff’s association, which may help him.

In the 4th District (Shreveport, etc.), Marshall Jones, a Democratic state legislator, led Mike Johnson, a Republican lawyer and businessman (oil and gas), 28% to 25% on Nov. 8 in the race for Fleming’s seat. However, Johnson is favored on Dec. 10. The Trafalgar poll showed Republican Johnson with 48% to 27% for Democrat Jones. When leaners were included, Johnson had 59% to 35% for Jones, with 13% undecided.

So barring a major upset – and we have seen a big one of those this election season – Republicans will hold on to a US Senate seat and two congressional seats in Louisiana.