Obviously, if you were like most people you paid an awful lot of attention to the drama involving the presidential race and probably not as much to the other elections taking place. If you’re in Louisiana and that describes you, here’s what you missed.
PRESIDENT: Trump smashes Biden.
It didn’t quite hit the 60 percent mark the LAGOP was hoping for, as the “city” vote came in late and brought the margin down, but a 58-40 win for the Republican ticket was a solid win for President Trump nonetheless.
You don’t need us to expound on that. The news on the presidential race didn’t come from Louisiana, but other places which do a substantially worse job than we do with vote-counting. Perhaps that’s at least something Louisianans can be proud of.
SENATE: Cassidy re-elected in a romp.
The smart money, we were told before last night, had Bill Cassidy hovering somewhere around 50 percent and an even-money chance to avoid a runoff before his inevitable re-election.
If that was so, the smart money wasn’t so smart after all, because Cassidy greatly outperformed those expectations. Cassidy slightly outperformed Trump, earning 59 percent of the vote against a vast field of 14 challengers. The best performer of the runts opposing Louisiana’s senior senator was Shreveport Democrat mayor Adrian Perkins, who earned a pitiful 19 percent and likely destroyed his political career in the process. Perennial Democrat candidate Derrick Edwards, who peeled off some of Perkins’ vote along with a pair of key endorsements from Cleo Fields and Cedric Richmond, ended up with 10 percent.
5TH DISTRICT: Letlow vs. Harris in a runoff.
In a bit of a surprise, the 5th District congressional race will pit two Republicans against each other. Luke Letlow (33 percent) ran considerably ahead of the field, as expected, but his expected Democrat runoff opponent Candy Christophe (16 percent) fell just short of joining him. That’s because Republican state representative Lance Harris (17 percent) ended up eclipsing Christophe by a slight 556 vote margin. Democrat Martin Lemelle came in fourth with 10 percent and Republican Scott Robinson was in fifth with 8 percent.
Letlow is going to be a heavy favorite in the runoff, as he positioned himself as relatively unideological while Harris’ ads paint him as a tough, unflinching conservative. It’s now going to be a race to see who can line up more of the district’s black Democrats, who are the swing vote.
CONGRESS: Easy re-elections.
None of the state’s five incumbent congressmen were expected to have a problem being re-elected last night and none did.
Steve Scalise won re-election with 72 percent of the vote. Cedric Richmond won with 64 percent. Clay Higgins won with 68 percent. Mike Johnson won with 60. And Garret Graves won with 71 percent.
None had even a remotely serious challenger. They’re all quite popular in their districts.
BATON ROUGE MAYOR: Sharon Weston Broome vs. Steve Carter.
The Republican side of the Baton Rouge mayor’s race was very slow to form up and Republican voters didn’t really galvanize around one of the three options, and that probably had something to do with the rather soft performance of the three GOP candidates last night. The three top Republicans combined for 43 percent of the vote, a number that would need to be a whole lot better in the runoff if there is any chance to unseat Broome.
The incumbent ended the night with 48 percent of the vote, almost getting re-elected in the primary. Add the seven percent fellow Democrat Denise Marcelle posted and she’s at 55 percent and unbeatable.
Steve Carter (20 percent), who outpaced Matt Watson (13 percent) and Jordan Piazza (10 percent), will have the unenviable task of changing the electorate in the runoff. He’s got to find a way to peel off some of the white vote that went to Broome in the primary, galvanize every single Republican voter who went for Watson and Piazza (and E. Eric Guirard, who pulled one percent) and then hope that white turnout is considerably higher than black turnout in the runoff. That’s possible, seeing as though the December runoff is probably a lower-turnout election, but with a whole lot of ground to make up it won’t be easy.
PSC DISTRICT 1: Skrmetta gets a Democrat in the runoff.
Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta polled only 31 percent in the crowded District 1 race last night, which means he’s a little beat up going into the runoff. But Skrmetta does have something going for him, in that his opponent in December will be Democrat Allen Borne, who came in second with 24 percent.
There were three Republican challengers to Skrmetta. Kevin Pearson polled 14 percent, John Mason 13 percent and Richie Sanderson, who touted an endorsement from Edwin Edwards, has just eight percent. John Schwegmann polled six percent on name ID only. His vote likely goes to Borne.
That essentially means Skrmetta needs to find about 20 percent of the vote out of the 35 percent Pearson, Mason and Sanderson managed, against a Democrat. Which is more than likely. Look for an enormous amount of pressure to be put on Pearson, Mason and Sanderson to quickly endorse their fellow Republican – if they don’t, considering Skrmetta has the endorsement of virtually every Republican organization in the city and state, there are likely to be pretty serious consequences.
PSC DISTRICT 5: Six more years of Foster Campbell.
It was 53-47, which isn’t a particularly resounding victory, but Democrat Foster Campbell managed to get himself re-elected to a final term on the PSC. Republican challenger Shane Smiley, the president of the Ouachita Parish police jury, probably cost himself a shot at winning by backing local tax increases back in the summer; that action signaled to voters in the district that he wasn’t all that strong a Republican, and it sapped the enthusiasm for his candidacy.
It is nothing short of amazing that in 2020 a political fossil like Foster Campbell, whom nobody seems to like at all, can’t be beaten for a seat Republicans should be able to claim. But it happened.
AMENDMENTS: The voters don’t get economics.
There was some good news on the constitutional amendments, but not enough of it.
Amendment #1, the Love Life Amendment, passed overwhelmingly, 62-38. That one was never in doubt in a pro-life state.
Amendment #2, which allowed for accurate assessment of the economic value of land containing oil wells, passed with a 58-42 margin. That’s the first piece of good news for the oil and gas industry in Louisiana in a good while.
Amendment #3, allowing the Legislature to raid the Budget Stabilization Fund in the case of natural disasters, passed 55-45. We didn’t like that at all, and it’s another open invitation for the state to spend money without limits.
Amendment #4, which would have imposed some limits on the state’s spending cap, went down to a bad defeat by a 56-44 margin. It seems like voters in Louisiana just love watching their tax dollars flowing out of the state capitol.
Amendment #5, which would have given local governments more leeway in incentivizing economic development projects through payments-in-lieu-of-taxes arrangements, got absolutely slaughtered 63-37. Say goodbye to any more big industrial development in Louisiana, which was probably gone anyway in the event Team Biden steals the presidential election as it looks like they will.
Amendment #6, which increases the income limits for homestead exemptions on special assessments, won big with a 62-38 margin. That was a bad amendment, but voters like the giveaways and the cutouts for everybody but job creators.
Amendment #7, which set up a special fund for unclaimed property that the state can’t touch, passed 64-36. Treasurer John Schroder won that argument big over Gov. John Bel Edwards.