Welcome to the 2015 runoff election night live blog. Here we will have all the latest news, rumors, and gossip from here until everything is called late tonight. We will not only be covering the Governor’s race, we will have the Lt. Governor and Attorney General races. We will also have the runoffs for the Legislature, BESE, and even some selected parish races of interest.
The Hayride’s team of writers will be all over the state tonight. Scott McKay will be at LABI Headquarters in Baton Rouge, Kevin Boyd will be at Vitter’s Victory Party in Kenner, and John Binder will be somewhere with free wifi and beer.
Strap yourselves in because we have a long night ahead of us.
10:11 PM Kevin Boyd — I’m wrapping up here. The ballroom is cleared out. The final legislative tally is Republicans gained a seat in the State House and Democrats gained a seat in the State Senate.
John Milkovich defeated Richie Burford in Senate District 38 giving Democrats a gain. Ryan Gatti defeated Henry Burns in Senate District 36. Jean Paul Coussan defeated Andre Comeaux in House District 45. Beryl Amedee unseated Joe Harrison in House District 51. Rick Edmonds ousted Darrell Ourso in House District 66. Paula Davis defeated Ryan Heck in House District 69. Ray Garofalo is holding on against Casey Hunnicutt in House District 103.
Tony Davis defeated Mary Harris in BESE District 4. It gives pro-education reform members a clear 7-4 majority on BESE after Governor-elect John Bel Edwards appoints his 3 members.
All in all some improvements in the legislature with the defeats of Ourso and Harrison, but this legislature on the whole will be less conservative than the previous one. That was also before the crushing defeat of Lenar Whitney tonight.
9:30 PM MacAoidh — Vitter is giving his concession speech, the long and short of which is he’s not running for re-election to the Senate.
9:23 PM MacAoidh — The number to meet is 48 percent. And it’s a tall order.
Vitter has lost this race, but the question is whether he can get to 48 percent.
Because at 48 percent, he would manage to match Bobby Jindal’s performance in 2003 when he lost to Kathleen Blanco.
It’s important for him that he do that. Why?
Because if he doesn’t he’ll be the Republican candidate for governor who performed worse than anyone from his party in a runoff since David Duke in 1991.
And that in a year when every other GOP statewide candidate won election or re-election by 54 percent (that was Jim Donelon, who beat three contenders in the primary) or more.
It was Vitter who faltered. The voters didn’t repudiate the GOP; they repudiated Vitter.
9:14 PM Kevin Boyd — We’re calling the Attorney General’s race for Jeff Landry. WAFB has as well.
The mood in the half-empty ballroom at Vitter’s election watch party is subdued. The room never really filled up. Along with Mike Johnson, State Rep. Tim Burns, who is term-limited, was in attendance.
9:10 PM John Binder — Every major media outlet in the state calling the Louisiana governor’s race for State Rep. John Bel Edwards (D-Amite). Edwards had the backing of the Louisiana media and the ever-so-powerful trial lawyers who feared a David Vitter governorship because of tort reform.
9:05 PM Kevin Boyd — We can make a call in the probably the most watched State Senate race. Beth Mizell has won Senate District 12. That is a Republican gain. As it stands, the State Senate is unchanged.
9:00 PM – MacAoidh — 42 percent in…
Hope this is premature, but we’re calling this race for Edwards. Vitter is likely to close it down to a semi-respectable margin before it’s over, but we’re just not sure how you close 70,000 votes with what looks like 500,000 left.
8:51 PM Kevin Boyd — We can call BESE District 6 for Kathy Edmonston. This is the first defeat in BESE races for pro-education reform forces.
We can also call House District 29 for Edmond Jordan.
We’re also calling House District 53 for Tanner Magee.
We’re calling House District 72 for Robby Carter.
8:44 PM MacAoidh — On WAFB in Baton Rouge, New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu just trashed David Vitter personally like you will rarely see in public.
Landrieu is triumphant. There’s a reason.
Orleans’ early votes came in.
This race is callable. An 18-point margin to overcome is virtually impossible. We won’t call it yet, but we’re about to.
8:42 PM Kevin Boyd — We can make our first Legislative race call. Dorothy Sue Hill has been reelected in House District 32. This is a hold for Democrats.
8:37 p.m.MacAoidh — Now with 62 of 64 parishes’ early votes counted…
The two not yet counted? Orleans and West Feliciana. Neither one will close this gap.
8:32 PM Kevin Boyd — Back to the Lt. Governor’s race. The Hayride can project that Billy Nungesser has been elected Lt. Governor, defeating Kip Holden.
8:23 PM MacAoidh — Only five parishes left in the early voting. Here’s the number…
Those look insurmountable at this point.
What are the five left out?
Franklin, Orleans, St. Tammany, St. Landry and West Feliciana.
St. Tammany is good. Orleans is bad. The others aren’t big enough to make much difference. So Vitter will have to overcome a 16-point early vote deficit with Election Day returns when turnout is reportedly low.
8:21 PM Kevin Boyd — Very good news for Billy Nungesser and Jeff Landry. Nungesser is running away in his race 57-43. We’re close to making a call in that race. Landry is leading Caldwell 53-47. Still too close to call.
8:15 PM John Binder — WWL analysts keep reitorating that John Bel Edwards “is a different kind of Democrat.” Then, they go on to say that Lt. Gov. candidate Mayor Kip Holden is loved by republicans. Also, Louisiana Democratic Chairwoman Karen Carter Peterson saying how excited she is for an Edwards governorship.
8:11 PM Kevin Boyd — The early voting numbers still do not look good with more parishes reporting.
8:06 p.m. MacAoidh — Early absentee numbers. Very early.
8:01 PM John Binder — Liberals all over Twitter and WWL-TV now saying it’s going to be “very close.” That’s contrary to polling which has had Edwards far ahead of Vitter. Also, an interesting note, the majority of parishes in the state gave 50 percent or more of their votes to GOP candidates in the governor primary election.
7:56 Kevin Boyd — Here’s a couple of Republicans who showed up for John Bel Edwards’s party in NOLA.
— James Lambert (@hellofasandwich) November 22, 2015
7:46 MacAoidh — From a source with feet in both camps…
I just heard from a contact in Lafayette that the black vote and dems period was low. They were giving out BBQ sandwiches in Lafayette but they got rained on and the people didn’t like that one at all.
7:42 Kevin Boyd — Spoke to State Rep. Mike Johnson. He said turnout in North Louisiana was poor. However we also spoke to lobbyist Brian Trascher as well. Trascher says turnout in metro New Orleans was on par with the primary while the turnout on the northshore was robust due to down ballot races. St. Tammany has a runoff in the sheriff’s race. It will come down to how much of lead Edwards has among early votes.
Crowd is starting to arrive at Vitter’s victory party, but it’s still not a large crowd yet.
7:23 PM Kevin Boyd — Meanwhile at Edwards headquarters, they’re pretty confident.
— Elizabeth Crisp (@elizabethcrisp) November 22, 2015
7:19 PM Kevin Boyd — To answer what will be one of the most asked questions, yes there is a cash bar here at the Vitter victory party. There also still isn’t much of a crowd, but that’s not surprising considering the LSU game just ended.
7:06 PM Kevin Boyd — Here’s some of the turnout reports so far.
Richland Parish is a suburban parish outside of Shreveport and Bossier City. In the 2014 runoff, Bill Cassidy won the parish with 59% with 47.1% turnout. Last month, turnout was 35.8% and Edwards won with 42%.
But in 2008, the last year a Democrat won statewide, Mary Landrieu narrowly defeated John Kennedy by 48 votes. Both got 49%.
7:00 PM John Binder — Reporting from somewhere with free wifi and beer tonight. Lots of rumors going around about low voter turnout in every parish in the state. Not all true, however, as St. Tammany Parish may have a higher turnout than in the primary election. The only known low turnout for sure is in East Baton Rouge Parish.
Also, I’ll be keeping up with the love-fest that is the Louisiana media’s obsession with all things John Bel Edwards. So far, there’s lots of Advocate and Times Picayune reporters telling us via Twitter how excited people are about Edwards.
6:47 PM Kevin Boyd — Here at Vitter headquarters. There isn’t a whole of activity right now. Basically, it’s mostly journalists setting up. Just going through antedoctal reports of turnout on social media. Basically, Orleans and Caddo had a good turnout. St. Tammany did as well. Terrible turnout in East Baton Rouge.