SADOW: White Democrats Are Almost Gone In Louisiana

The evidence that the white populist liberals who have controlled Louisiana Democrats from going on a century have run their course presented by the party’s candidates in federal electoral contests this week only was reinforced by the electoral showings of their state office candidates.

A few races, regular for Public Service Commission and special for state Senate, not only reinforced the minority party status of Louisiana Democrats but also heralded a continuing change in leadership away from traditional powerbrokers made up of white officeholders in government and party and their donors and contributors drawn from the ranks of courthouse hangers-on, trial lawyers, unions, and other special interests. In the U.S. Senate race, their diminished power showed when not only did Republican Sen. John Kennedy pull more than 60 percent of the vote, also their preferred Democrat contender finished third, well behind upstart/outsider Democrat Gary Chambers who improved on his third place finish in last year’s Second Congressional District contest.

Democrats only won in that majority-minority U.S. House district, returning Rep. Troy Carter, with Republican incumbents easily winning all others (one faced no competition). But that’s the only thing that went right for the party establishment.

As it turned out for the state contests, perhaps only one went as expected, where GOP Public Service Commissioner Mike Francis easily fended off a challenge from a field without a Democrat whose competitors hardly campaigned. The other PSC race in the body’s only majority-minority district laid bare intraparty rivalry among Democrats. Although black, Public Service Commissioner Lambert Bossiere III and his family have firm ties with party mandarins and while on the PSC he has fronted efforts to privilege renewable energy efforts that faction supports.

This it seems was not enough for climate alarmists who threw multiple black challengers out there. Altogether, they held Bossiere below an absolute majority to force a December runoff with their preferred candidate, leftist interest group administrator Davante Lewis, who squeaked past the others to join him. Bossiere well outspent the pack and should have enough in the tank to triumph, but his inability to win outright shows that more radical outsiders have gained traction on the establishment.

The New Orleans-based (with a slight slice of Jefferson Parish) Senate District 5 pitted two of the most leftist Democrats in the Louisiana House of Representatives against each other. In fact, only one major difference existed between black Royce Duplessis and white Mandie Landry: their skin color. As it is, the party activists that Landry hangs around with are more often with the establishment than those with whom Duplessis consorts.

The district had a large majority of Democrats and a slight white majority but only a plurality. Yet Duplessis won by capturing almost all black voters in heavily-black precincts while hanging tough in clear majority white ones, often matching Landry’s totals or coming close to those. He took advantage of wokeness and the white guilt it spawns in those of that race with that attitude, a campaign playbook for this kind of district that calls for reinforcing black solidarity while knowing leftist whites are more likely to vote for a black candidate than blacks will vote for a white. It’s a recipe that will put black Democrats in power at the expense of establishment whites.

Yet the most telling and discouraging result for the establishment came in the Senate District 17 race between Democrat state Rep. Jeremy LaCombe and GOP businessman Caleb Kleinpeter. The sprawling district north and west of Baton Rouge has a plurality of Democrats and about 35 percent black registration and is the kind Democrats must win in order to prevent supermajority rule by legislative Republicans, if not have a majority themselves. Its previous occupant had entered as a Democrat but then switched to the GOP.

With his 2019 district win and subsequent House experience, many observers considered LaCombe the favorite and perhaps able to win without a runoff. He also raised $300,000 and spent over half, perhaps holding a bit back for an expected December election, which was $100,00 more raised and $50,000 more spent than Kleinpeter.

But when the ballots were counted, he didn’t even make a runoff as Kleinpeter took the outright majority. Not only does this essentially lock in Kleinpeter, who articulates much more conservatism than his predecessor, for as many as 13 years to the seat, but it also brings into question whether LaCombe can survive against a Republican in a reelection attempt next year in a district with a lower proportion of blacks. (It’s quite possible his vote to uphold a gubernatorial veto in 2021 of a bill to prevent males from competing in all-female sports played a significant role in his defeat then, and perhaps will next year.)

He may become a statistic most closely associated with the decline of establishment Democrats: the almost total disappearance of whites of that label elected to the state’s majoritarian institutions or at the federal level. None of eight are in Congress, only two out of 20 are on the executive branch side, and the party has just two of 39 in the Senate and seven of 105 in the House. After the dust settles next year, all those state totals probably will be halved or more.

As national Democrats go further off the deep end and state Democrat activists loyally follow, even as the party continues its decline the influence of blacks in it will surge while that of whites is on a trajectory to all but disappear.

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