BAYHAM: The 2016 Louisiana Political Winners & Losers
2016 was a consequential year in Louisiana politics for candidates who ran for office and even those whose names weren’t on the ballot.
Here’s a breakdown on those who prospered, directly and indirectly, and those who crapped out.
John Kennedy: The Oxford scholar’s twelve-year slog to the United States Senate reached a happy conclusion.
It took three bids but the dean of statewide elected officials gambled on broad statewide appeal and consistently high approval ratings as treasurer being enough to earn a runoff spot that he claimed with a strong plurality.
That it would be a head to head against the opponent he coveted was less certain but the risk paid off when Foster Campbell slipped past Charles Boustany.
After starting off 25 years ago with an unsuccessful bid for attorney general, being a United States Senator will make a great capstone for Kennedy’s political career.
Mike Johnson: Election week was a bittersweet experience for the freshman legislator, losing his father to cancer on the eve of winning Louisiana’s northwest congressional seat.
Expect Johnson to become a national figure soon on issues that are important to Evangelicals and social conservatives.
Garret Graves: The Baton Rouge Congressman was handily reelected over token opposition and in one term has emerged as one of the most influential members of the Louisiana delegation in Washington, second only to Majority Whip Steve Scalise.
Clay Higgins: Perhaps the biggest upset win in recent state political history, the underfunded cop benefited from the public’s fury towards the political establishment.
The challenge for Higgins is to avoid becoming a one terner such as other longshot congressmen Joseph Cao and Vance McAllister.
Congressman-elect Higgins should tread carefully over the next two years to avoid making any major mistakes as there are opportunists counting on the rookie messing up and preparing to pounce.
Eric Skrmetta: Just two years ago the Public Service Commissioner was on the ropes when the national green energy cabal decided to funnel tremendous resources at unseating him. Now as Donald Trump’s state campaign chairman, Skrmetta is in an enviable position of influence with the new White House.
John Bel Edwards: He lost the battle for house speaker to a compromise GOP candidate, but prevailed in an influence test within his own party in the Senate primary.
Also Trump winning the White House is beneficial for the Democratic governor in two ways: first, there will be less pressure from the Democrats to go along with their national agenda and second, the trend in Louisiana politics since 1979 is that the party that holds the White House generally loses the governor’s race (the exceptions being in 2007 & 2015).
Sharon Weston Broome: The Baton Rouge mayor’s election was the lone bright spot for the Louisiana Democratic Party. And they barely won that.
Mike Francis: The one time Louisiana GOP chairman had made a few losing bids for public office before hitting paydirt this fall in a run for public service commissioner.
Jeff Landry: The Attorney General won a big battle in court against Governor Edwards and is increasingly looking like the GOP’s candidate for governor in 2019.
Bobby Jindal: The ex-governor saw his leading critic win the US Senate and the man he appointed lieutenant governor go down in what should’ve been a slam-dunk of a congressional race.
Furthermore, a cabinet position no longer seems in the cards.
A candidate would be better off running for office with Nick Saban’s endorsement than Jimdal’s.
Scott Angelle: Once considered the rising star in Louisiana politics and a possible candidate for governor again in 2019 after running a strong third the last time, Angelle lost a congressional bid in a runoff that he should’ve won in the primary.
Eliminated from consideration from the 2019 gubernatorial field, Angelle needs to regroup and develop a post-Jindal identity.
Mitch Landrieu: His war on Confederate statues is locked up in federal court (the irony) and no cabinet post to transition to with Hillary Clinton’s defeat, the termed out New Orleans mayor’s election options are limited.
Louisiana Democratic Party: When your side is spiking the football over a win for mayor of Baton Rouge…
The Democrats are becoming a fringe party like the early 1990s GOP in Louisiana and there doesn’t seem to be much stopping their freefall.
Baton Rouge GOP: Short of all hell breaking loose (again), they lost what could have been their last chance for winning mayor-president in the foreseeable future.
Foster Campbell: Not many people can claim having lost bids for Louisiana’s highest three offices (governor, US Senator, and US Representative) but Campbell can.