In the four year Louisiana election cycle that starts with the quadrennial presidential election and concludes with the gubernatorial and legislative elections, the year after the race for the White House is relatively quiet.
With the shift of the New Orleans mayor’s contest from Mardi Gras season voting back to the fall, the race for Nola City Hall is the big election in this political off-year.
However there were a scattering of other races of significance on the ballot in Louisiana, including four constitutional amendments.
Helena Moreno – The former television news reporter won a second term as council-at-large in New Orleans by a landslide, drawing overwhelming support from all demographics and political affiliations. Moreno has recovered strongly from her unsuccessful attempt to unseat Bill Jefferson from Congress 13 years ago and is strongly positioned as the candidate to beat if she were to seek mayor in 2025.
LaToya Cantrell – Sun Tzu’s number one principle of war is winning the battle before the actual fight. Cantrell did this by ensuring that no challenger of standing entered the race for mayor despite having received unflattering publicity from her confrontational style and draconian COVID policies that were apparently more unpopular by residents of other parishes than her own. The political class no-showed during qualifying and from that point forward the primary was a matter of what majority she’d secure a second term.
Jeremy Stine and the GOP Senate Caucus – The Lake Charles Republican won the special election to replace “Republican” Ronnie Johns, who took a job with Governor John Bel Edwards. Stine ran as a conservative and his election will keep the rest of the Senate’s Republican caucus more honest and less in doubt, particularly regarding potential JBE veto overrides. Stine’s Democratic opponent was supported by Governor Edwards.
JP Morrell – The ex-New Orleans state senator came back from his “gap year” in politics winning the very seat his mother had unsuccessfully sought 8 years prior. Having dodged a runoff by defeating sitting Councilwoman Kristin Palmer, Morrell attracted support from a coalition of black voters and Republicans who were turned off by Palmer’s stridently progressive politics. Though on the left side of the political fence as well, Morrell successfully conveyed disenchantment with the high crime that has plagued Orleans Parish.
SJWs – Though Palmer’s defeat was a disappointment to the city’s progressive activist crowd, Cantrell’s big reelection win helped balance their evening. However their biggest victory could occur next month as incumbent Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman was surprisingly forced into a runoff by Susan Hutson.
Hutson”s platform is straight out of Bill de Blasio’s Manhattan running on “gender confirming housing” and a host of other leftist social positions. Hutson’s activist vote are sure to turn out in December and Gusman has to figure out a way to generate enthusiasm for his reelection.
LABI – The state’s influential pro-business organization pushed for the adoption of two amendments, the first providing for the streamlining of tax collection and the second a restructuring of the state’s income tax. They had to defy the political gravity of Orleans Parish as Mayor Cantrell opposed the first amendment and the city elections were going to thumb the turnout scales. LABI walked off with half a loaf as Orleans Parish buried Amendment One.
Orleans Parish Political Families -The era of the political family is coming to an end if not already over in Orleans Parish. Though Morrell won, District E’s council race resulted in a big defeat for Sherman Copelin’s daughter Michon and former State Representative John Bagneris- who has one of the most influential surnames in city politics. Both fared poorly and came nowhere close to making the runoff. Orleans Parish politics is entering a New Woke World where ideology matters more than family.
Two Party System in New Orleans – Only two Republicans bothered to qualify for office and neither came close though Vina Nguyen conducted a spirited effort for mayor. Not a single Republican signed up for the District A seat, once a bastion of the New Orleans GOP, due to the strength of the Democratic incumbent and the carving up of the district in reapportionment after two consecutive defeats by the Republican candidate in that seat. Whatever leverage Orleans Republicans have in the city runoffs needs to be utilized to ensure that those running agree to put back together District A as it once was so Republicans can literally have a seat at the city governing table.
Louisiana Democrats – Their brand has become toxic and no doubt helped Stine roll up a big primary victory in the senate special election. With the national agenda becoming more hostile towards the bedrock of the Louisiana economy (oil), there’s little Governor Edwards can do to paper over locally what Joe Biden is doing nationally. Whoever the Louisiana Democrats tap for governor in 2023 won’t have JBE’s personal narrative that appealed to centrist voters and will be further handicapped with Washington ideological baggage. “I’m really not like them” isn’t a great preamble for a candidate introduction.