There was a decent indication of the rout in Louisiana legislative races to come back in August, when the Democrats failed to qualify credible candidates in the majority of districts up for grabs due to term limits – including several districts they currently control.
We knew then that the Republican majorities of 60 votes in the House (out of 105) and 25 votes in the Senate (out of 39) were going to expand. When qualifying was over, those 60 House votes became 63 because the Democrats didn’t event contest seats being vacated by Sam Jones, Truck Gisclair and James Armes.
And in the Senate the Democrats didn’t mount a serious challenge to a single Republican-held seat, while being in the position of having two seats in jeopardy of GOP flips. With 26 seats required for a supermajority, this was a cycle in which the Dems simply had to hold the line if not take back a seat or two.
From the standpoint of the Democrats, the failures at qualifying only got worse on primary election night.
The Democrats lost both of those two contested D-held seats. The District 28 seat thrown open when Eric LaFleur was termed out went to hard-core conservative Republican Heather Cloud, who blew out a pair of Democrat state representatives Robert Johnson and Bernie LeBas by earning a shocking 63 percent of the vote in a rout. And even worse, a Democrat-held seat which wasn’t thrown open by term limits also flipped when Barry Milligan knocked out John Milkovich in District 38, taking 51 percent of the vote against Milkovich and fellow Democrat Katrina Early.
Meaning the Republicans now control not just a supermajority in the Senate, but 27 of the 39 seats. That gives them a vote to spare beyond the two-thirds.
And it isn’t just party registration at stake. Within the Republican seats the conservatives ran roughshod.
Glen Womack won a four-way race with just more than 50 percent of the vote in District 32, which was vacated by Neil Riser terming out. That means a conservative seat stays that way in Northeast Louisiana.
That’s also true in District 33, where Mike Walsworth is termed out. Stewart Cathey, a rising conservative star, knocked out Wade Bishop in a 52-48 race.
And it’s true in District 9, where Cameron Henry picked up 78 percent of the vote in a race to succeed Conrad Appel.
Those seats were already highly conservative, and will stay that way. But in a number of other districts where the outgoing Republican was less than ideal from a conservative perspective there was an “internal flip” making a GOP-held seat even redder.
Mike Reese winning District 30 with 51 percent against three others, for example, makes for a rightward move from John Smith.
“Big Mike” Fesi pulling 54 percent of the vote in District 20 against four opponents signifies a massive internal flip from Norby Chabert.
Kirk Talbot winning a 55-45 landslide in District 10 makes that seat a great deal more conservative than it was with Danny Martiny holding it.
Mark Abraham taking home 54 percent in District 25 makes that seat substantially improved from a conservative standpoint than it was with John Bel Edwards fan-boy Blade Morrish holding it.
And in perhaps the greatest internal flip of them all, Robert Mills came just short of a primary win over Ryan Gatti, 48-38. Democrat Mattie Preston, who finished in third with 15 percent, is likely to endorse Mills (she’s not a fan of Gatti’s), making a Mills victory reasonably likely and one of the Senate’s most egregious RINO’s looks on the way out.
There are a number of Republican-held seats in which runoffs are set without the particular prospect of a rightward move. Reid Falconer and Patrick McMath in District 11 will be hard-pressed to build the same record Jack Donohue did. Jim Fannin and Jay Morris in District 35 are so-so conservatives depending on who you talk to; Fannin is the incumbent. And Louie Bernard, who won 55 percent of the vote in District 31, formerly held by RINO Gerald Long, looks like he’ll be similar.
From a conservative standpoint the only real disappointment was Edith Carlin failing to force J. Rogers Pope into a runoff in District 13. That said, even Pope, who’s a bit too old-school Louisiana for most conservatives (on education issues he’s especially terrible), is likely an improvement over RINO Dale Erdey.
The Senate will have gone from a problem to a strength for conservatives. There is now a very real possibility that Sharon Hewitt, one of the most conservative members of the body, could be in a position to claim the Senate presidency – and coming from eight years of John Alario’s corrupt RINO misrule, that’s something akin to a cloudless dawn after an extended stormy night.
The only real threat to the 27-seat majority is a runoff in District 16, where as of last night Franklin Foil finished only eight votes ahead of Steve Carter for a spot in the runoff against Democrat Beverly Brooks Thompson. Thompson finished first with 34 percent in a five way race; Foil and Carter had 30 each and another Republican, Bob Bell, had four percent. It is highly unlikely Foil doesn’t end up with the vast majority of Carter’s and Bell’s votes and that should allow him to cruise to an easy win in the only Republican-held seat where the Democrats could find a semi-credible candidate.
The House might have started with 63 Republican seats after qualifying. After last night’s primary, that number is more like 68.
LeBas and Johnson both saw their seats flip Republican in routs. Rhonda Butler (60 percent) beat two Democrats to secure LeBas’ District 38, and Daryl Deshotel (61 percent) won a landslide over two Democrats and an independent to clean up Johnson’s District 28.
Dorothy Sue Hill was term-limited in District 32, and her husband Herman Ray Hill, who had formerly held the seat, was thrashed by Republican Dewith Carrier by a 64-27 margin.
Republicans picked up a pair of independent-held seats as well. Dee Richard’s District 55 seat went to Bryan Fontenot over Donovan Fremin in a GOP battle, and Terry Brown’s District 22 went to Gabe Firment in a race between a pair of Republicans.
Meaning that Republicans are within two seats of holding a supermajority. That might be cut to one in a runoff in District 62, where independent Roy Daryl Adams only managed 38 percent of the vote in a four-way race, and a pair of Republicans combined for 52 percent. Adams will face Johnny Arceneaux, who had 31 percent in the primary, and there will be major GOP resources poured into the runoff.
It’s even possible that the Democrats could lose a seat they’ve held to an independent. Andy Anders’ District 21 seat will go to a runoff between black Democrat C. Travis Johnson, who had 44 percent in the primary, and independent Glen McGlothin, who had 23. But another independent, Clint Vegas, had 22 percent, and Democrat Jane Netterville had 11. McGlothin, Vegas and Netterville are all white, so if the runoff is decided along racial lines there’s a decent chance McGlothin wins. McGlothin, we’re told, might be persuaded to caucus with the Republicans for a functional working supermajority, though that might not be necessary.
The only real opportunity for the Democrats to stem the tide will be in the District 70 runoff. In that primary, left-wing loon Belinda Davis led three Republicans and a Libertarian with 38 percent of the vote. Barbara Freiberg came in second with 29 percent and should easily consolidate the remainder.
It’s a massive rout, and it’s a huge testament to the effectiveness of the Louisiana Committee for a Conservative Majority and the LAGOP, not to mention the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. Those groups did an outstanding job of candidate recruitment and voter turnout, and won a game-changing victory last night.
All that’s left to complete the opportunity to make Louisiana a truly business-friendly, reform conservative state is Eddie Rispone knocking off John Bel Edwards, who at this point is as politically isolated as any elected official in America.