Last month, we noted that there are three upcoming legislative special elections – two in the state senate and one in the state house. The Senate races are noteworthy because GOP victories in both races would numerically put Republicans in charge of that legislative body. They currently have a 53-48 majority in the state House, with four Independents. In this article, we will update you on what is going on with the two Senate races.
January 22 primary/February 19 runoff ?
House District 101 in eastern New Orleans and Senate District 22 (map) in Iberia/St Martin parishes are having their special elections next Saturday. Early voting concluded yesterday afternoon, and in the senate race, 2,057 early voted, which would suggest a voter turnout in the 17-25% range – typical for a special election. The partisan composition of the early voters was 48-44% Democratic, which is favorable to the Republicans, as the district’s voter registration is 55-24% Democratic. Six candidates (four Republicans and two Independents) are running, which suggests that there will be a runoff on February 19. Who will the runoff candidates be ? That depends on several things:
(1) Since state representative Fred Mills (a very recent convert to the Republican party) is the only candidate from St Martin Parish (where 42% of the voters are), the extent to which he, as a Republican, can consolidate the vote there on either side of the partisan divide;
(2) The extent to which state representative Simone Champagne (a recent convert to the Republican party) can hold her own in Iberia Parish against four other Iberia-based candidates, three of whom could potentially take votes away from her;
(3) 31% of the registered voters are black. Though there is no Democrat in the race, the extent to which this electoral bloc will line up behind attorney David Groner (one of the two Independents) or state representative Fred Mills;
(4) The extent to which Mills or Champagne can attract support outside of their home parishes.
February 19 primary
Candidate filing concluded in Senate District 26 (map) in Acadia/Lafayette/St Landry/Vermillion parishes. This race will be settled on February 19 without a runoff, since only Republican state representative Jonathan Perry and Democratic police juror Nathan Granger qualified to run. Both candidates are from Vermillion Parish, where 47% of the vote will be cast. Though this appears to be a rural district, recent suburbanization in the precincts of St Landry Parish (which has 5% of the voters) and Lafayette Parish (which has 23% of the voters) gives Republicans a fighting chance. This race will be a good test of whether recent Republican successes in Acadiana elections trumps traditional support for Democratic candidates at the local level.