The upcoming U.S. Senate race next year is already getting interesting. This month has seen three candidates officially declare they’re in. Another has announced they’re setting up an exploratory committee. Meanwhile, at least three others have declared that they are considering the race. Oh and that’s not counting the possible Democratic candidate. This could be a very crowded field in a hurry.
Here are the four things to watch for.
- Will John Kennedy run or not? Kennedy has probably the most options open to him of any Louisiana politician right now. He’s easily the most popular statewide elected official and he’s already released polling that has him in the runoff against a Democrat in the Senate race. However, Kennedy has to be tempted as well by a run for governor in 2019. But I’m thinking Kennedy is in for two reasons. The first is that he’s polling the race and the second is he knows a lot can happen between now and 2019. He will want to strike while the iron is hot.
- If Kennedy doesn’t run, the guy to watch is Charles Boustany. Boustany will be the establishment candidate in the race and will be the biggest beneficiary to Kennedy not running. He has a strong geographic base in Southwest Louisiana and it will be even stronger if Scott Angelle (more on him in a bit) and Elbert Guillory decide not to run and instead go for his Congressional seat. Boustany has money and is that special kind of Louisiana conservative that does well in most statewide elections. If Kennedy’s out of the race you have to think Boustany is the front-runner.
- Can Eric Skrmetta consolidate metro New Orleans? Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta surprised observers by forming an exploratory committee for the race. On paper, you would think he has the best shot between him and Rob Maness at consolidating the metro New Orleans region. He represents the area on the PSC. However, his name ID is presumably low because PSCs are generally a low profile job. He also barely won reelection last year when he was targeted by the environmentalist wacko left and Big Solar. On the other hand, he can paint himself as the green crowd’s worst enemy to draw a distinction between himself and his opponents.
- What will Scott Angelle do? Angelle has plenty of options right now after his unexpectedly strong showing in the governor’s primary. He can decide to capitalize on his base for governor and run for Senate. Or he can take an easier path and run for Charles Boustany’s open congressional seat. Unlike Elbert Guillory, whose political career exists solely to enrich his political consultants, Angelle will be a factor in Acadiana. Boustany has to hope that Angelle decides to go for his current seat instead of facing off against him. Angelle will also hurt both John Fleming and Rob Maness as they try to consolidate the tea party vote. However, Angelle’s only downside is that there maybe some bad feelings over his refusal to endorse David Vitter in the governor’s runoff.
We have 11 months before the first vote is cast in this race and a little under 12 months before a Senator is finally chosen. The Democrat opposition is likely to be former Lt. Governor candidate Caroline Fayard and you have to assume she will get one of the runoff spots because she’s a Democrat. The battle for the last runoff spot will be a very interesting battle.
Like most Louisiana elections, this race will be a sprint instead of a marathon. It will be interesting to see who can get off to the fastest start and can hold momentum throughout 2016.