Candidate filing has concluded in Louisiana. This was the first year in history that Democrats largely stayed away. So what happened?
Statewide Elected Officials
The Governor’s race was notable more for who did NOT run: despite last minute rumors, John Georges (who ran for Governor in 2007) decided by mid afternoon that he wasn’t going to jump in. That means that Governor Jindal faces nine minor opponents, of whom four are Democrats, four are Independents, and one is a Libertarian. Given the caliber of the opposition, this race probably will cause statewide turnout to be in the 40-45% range. When early voting occurs in four weeks, we will revise those predictions, based on the early voting volume.
Outside of the Governor’s race, only Republican Treasurer John Kennedy escaped any opposition. The Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General’s races will all face head to head Republican matchups, and will thus be decided in October. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne faces Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser. Appointed Secretary of State Tom Schedler will face a challenge from House Speaker Jim Tucker, while Attorney General Buddy Caldwell will face former Congressman Joseph Cao.
Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon (a Republican) will face Democrat Donald Hodge, while Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain received opposition from Democrat Jamie LaBranche and Reform candidate Belinda Alexandrenko.
Democrats put up a little more fight with the BESE board, as they contested 5 of 8 seats. This historically has been a Democratic dominated board that received little attention on election day, since these races had to share the spotlight with the statewide and legislative races. This year, business groups and education reformers recruited heavily, and Republicans are contesting 6 of 8 seats. Only recent party convert Walter Lee of Shreveport escaped opposition.
(UPDATED 8/14/2011) The GOP’s candidate recruitment efforts were generally very successful: they fielded candidates in a record 105 (out of 144) legislative districts, with candidates in 73 House races and 31 Senate races.
(UPDATED 8/14/2011) In general, however, there was not a lot of competition for these districts: 20 Senators and 42 representatives were unopposed.
(UPDATED 8/14/2011) Currently, the Louisiana House has 57 Republicans, 46 Democrats, and 2 Independents. Before a single vote has been cast, 29 Republicans (28 incumbents and 1 newcomer) have been elected, and in 17 more seats, Democrats did not enter any candidates. On the Democratic side, 13 incumbents were re-elected, and in 19 more seats, no Republican qualified. This means that the remaining 27 House seats will see partisan competition, and in at least 20 of those seats, Republicans have a decent shot at winning. Assuming no Republican seats are flipped by Democrats, the House may end up with at least 59 Republicans (so far, they have picked up the seats of term limited Houma Democrat Damon Baldone and retiring Democrat Chris Roy of Alexandria), and it’s not outside the realm of possibility to see a 66 Republican House.
Currently, the Louisiana Senate has 22 Republicans and 17 Democrats. Before a single vote has been cast, Republicans already have a 22 vote majority. 15 Republicans (13 incumbents and 2 newcomers) have already been elected, and in 7 more seats, only Republicans filed. Democrats, on the other hand, are only guaranteed 8 seats: 5 incumbents in black majority districts drew no opposition, and in 3 more races, only Democrats qualified.
This leaves 9 districts where there will be partisan competition, and in 5 of those seats, Republicans have a decent shot at winning. This means that the state senate will, at a minimum, contain between 24 Republicans and may end up with 27 Republicans. The GOP starts off with a minimum of 24 seats (assuming no Democratic pickups), since no Democrat filed in the districts once represented by two term limited Democrats (Willie Mount of Lake Charles and “Butch” Gautreaux of Morgan City).
As a final note, there was a concerted effort to get black Republicans to run, and 6 have qualified to run in 3 House and 2 Senate districts.