It’s no surprise that the Nov. 18 runoff election numbers, in terms of turnout, aren’t likely to be very impressive. A low-turnout runoff cycle was assured when Jeff Landry captured 51.6 percent of the vote in the Oct. 14 gubernatorial primary, robbing this month’s election of a marquee race atop the ticket.
The early voting numbers have reflected a turnout which might well dive below 20 percent. In early voting, which ended Saturday, just 260,156 voters turned out, a number far below the 368,951 who showed up to vote early for the Oct. 14 primary. Turnout for the Oct. 14 cycle was just 35.8 percent; do the math and now you’re projecting just 25.2 percent turnout for Saturday’s elections.
And if early voting is any indication, you’re also projecting a catastrophic outcome for Louisiana’s Democrats – which means a glorious outcome for everybody else.
Only 23.2 percent of the early vote in advance of Saturday’s cycle came from black voters (74.3 percent of the early vote was white). That compares with 26.4 percent of the early vote in advance of the primary – and in that cycle, black voters ended up as only 24.8 percent of the voting electorate.
So the pace thus far would indicate you could have an electorate on Saturday which is better than three-quarters white and maybe 20-22 percent black.
As for its partisan mix, here are some crazy numbers: early voting in October was 45 percent Republican and 40 percent Democrat, while the overall voting electorate was 43.6 percent Republican and 38.7 percent Democrat.
For the November cycle, the early voting mix has been 46.9 percent Republican and 38.5 percent Democrat. So you could well have a November electorate which is only 35 or 36 percent Democrat by registration.
And let’s remember that as much as a quarter of the people registered as Democrats in Louisiana are Republican voters who simply haven’t bothered to change their registration – because with a jungle primary, it makes no difference what letter is next to your name.
This is a classic opportunity for running up a score if you’re a conservative, so the suggestion here is to show up on Saturday and see just how many TD’s your favorite candidates can rack up. After all, even if there are no local or legislative races going on in your area, there are seven statewide items you can make your voice heard about.
1. Liz Murrill For Attorney General
Murrill almost joined Jeff Landry and Billy Nungesser as a primary winner, hitting 45 percent on Oct. 14 in a five-person race with two other Republicans in it. Given that John Stefanski (17 percent) and Marty Maley (7 percent) have both endorsed her and it’s difficult to imagine very many of their voters won’t follow suit, Murrill could well hit the 70 percent mark on Saturday night against Democrat Lindsey Cheek, who had just 23 percent of the vote in the primary (another Democrat, Perry Terrebonne, had 7 percent). In fact, we’ll predict Murrill will hit 70. But why not turn out on Saturday if you haven’t already voted, just to see if we can make that happen?
2. John Fleming For State Treasurer
Fleming was in the same basic boat as Murrill, in that he hit 44 percent in the primary in a three-way race. He’s collected the endorsement of Scott McKnight, who finished third in the primary for Treasurer with 24 percent, and he’s up against Dustin “Tolls” Granger, perhaps the most competitive of the three remaining statewide Democrat candidates. But Granger is a rather shrill leftist who comes off as Bernie Sanders with a Lake Charles accent, and his howling at Republicans on Twitter has made him a figure of fun in some quarters.
We’re calling him “Tolls” Granger because of a few ranting posts he made on the Joint Transportation Committee’s rejection of a John Bel Edwards Hail Mary proposal putting tolls on a new I-10 bridge over the Calcasieu River. It’s very rare to see tolls put on a stretch of interstate highway; tolls are for the roads that bypass the interstate so you can get where you’re going faster than it can, and most people get that. Which is why the Lake Charles legislative delegation consistently informed Edwards and his Department of Transportation and Development that tolls on that rebuilt bridge were a nonstarter. Edwards and DOTD didn’t listen, they pushed a toll-based public-private partnership proposal anyway, and suffered a humiliating loss. Granger then took to Twitter shilling for Edwards and attacking all the Republicans for the sin of listening to the voters.
The chalk would say Fleming 68, Tolls 32. We’ll see if he can hit that number. Your vote can help him get there.
3. Nancy Landry For Secretary of State
Landry emerged from a crowded GOP field in the Secretary of State primary, but she performed impressively given that of the three “major” Republican candidates in the race she was the least well-known. Mike Francis had been state GOP chairman and serves as a member of the Public Service Commission, and Clay Schexnayder is the Speaker of the House. Landry had served three terms in the Louisiana House of Representatives and is currently the first assistant Secretary of State, which is a bit more obscure, but on the campaign trail she proved awfully impressive and managed to come within 20 votes of Democrat Gwen Collins-Greenup, who finished first.
Republicans – all told, there were five of them – combined for 69 percent of the vote. Landry had 19 percent, and she’s racked up endorsements combining for most of the rest. There are detractors, namely the Brandon Trosclair faction who think Louisiana’s election system is susceptible to vote fraud and want to go to a pure paper ballot system, but honestly that’s a very small number of people. Trosclair only got six percent of the vote in the primary. His voters might not be excited about Landry, but on the other hand, Collins-Greenup represents the people they suspect would be most likely to perpetrate the vote fraud so it’s hard to imagine they’d cross over to vote for her.
That would make the chalk something like Landry 69, Collins-Greenup 31. Again, your vote could help determine whether Landry can hit that number.
4. A Yes On Amendment 1
This is the first of four constitutional amendments on the ballot for the Nov. 18 cycle. It reads as follows…
Do you support an amendment to clarify that the timing of gubernatorial action on a bill and his return of a vetoed bill to the legislature is based upon the legislative session in which the bill passed and to authorize the legislature, if it is in session, to reconsider vetoed bills without convening a separate veto session? (Effective January 8, 2024)(Amends Article III, Section 18)
Royal Alexander, Michael Lunsford and Jeff Sadow have all recommended a “Yes” vote on this one, and we join in that. Current law is set up to make it harder for the legislature to override a veto, and there is no good public policy reason for that. It’s a nice reform, even if we won’t likely need it since the days of the John Bel Edwardses wielding vetoes like cutlasses are over for the time being.
5. A Yes On Amendment 2
Amendment 2 deals with dedicated funds the state doesn’t use anymore, and asks the voters to strike them out of the Constitution as a means of taking out the trash. It reads…
Do you support an amendment to remove provisions of the Constitution of Louisiana which created the following inactive special funds within the state treasury: Atchafalaya Basin Conservation Fund, Higher Education Louisiana Partnership Fund, Millennium Leverage Fund, Agricultural and Seafood Products Support Fund, First Use Tax Trust Fund, Louisiana Investment Fund for Enhancement and to provide for the transfer of any remaining monies in such funds to the state general fund? (Repeals Article VII, Sections 4(D)(4)(b), 10.4, 10.10, and 10.12(B) and (C) and Article IX, Sections 9 and 10)
Alexander, Lunsford and Sadow all agreed this is a good amendment, and so do we. At some point it would be a very good idea to start over with a brand new state constitution, though that’s typically what you’d want to do in the fifth year of a gubernatorial tenure after he’s won re-election. In the meantime, we’re for scrubbing everything out of the current constitution that doesn’t absolutely have to be there, and a bunch of dedicated funds which don’t even have any money in them would certainly fit that bill.
6. A No On Amendment 3
Amendment 3 is a giveaway, albeit for a good cause. It reads…
Do you support an amendment to authorize the local governing authority of a parish to provide an ad valorem tax exemption for qualified first responders? (Adds Article VII, Section 21(O))
This would add an extra $25,000 exemption to property taxes for police, fire, and other first responders, at a time when we as a state may be looking at emulating states like Texas and Tennessee on local property taxes as a means of more reliable and accountable government funding. Royal Alexander liked this amendment, while Lunsford and Sadow were opposed.
We’re with Lunsford and Sadow. We aren’t opposed to giving out perquisites and benefits to first responders, but what we’d like to see is for them to get pay raises from local governments instead of freebies from the state constitution. And yes, this sets up an opt-in for the locals to use, but again – pay raises are a better plan than tax exemptions. Call us a no on this one.
7. A Yes Vote On Amendment 4
The final constitutional amendment on the ballot dives rather deeply into the weeds. Here’s what it says…
Do you support an amendment authorizing the legislature, after securing a two-thirds vote of each house, to use up to two hundred fifty million dollars from the Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund to alleviate a budget deficit subject to conditions set forth by law and allowing the legislature to modify such conditions for accessing the monies in the fund, subject to two-thirds vote? (Amends Article VII, Section 10.15(E)(1) and (F); Adds Article VII, Section 10.15(G))
The Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund is the backup rainy day fund the state has. At present, the Legislature can empty the whole thing if it wants, with a two-thirds vote. This would restrict the Legislature in the future to only tapping it for $250 million.
And while Lunsford was dubious – he said he was “leaning” toward no – Alexander and Sadow were yeses on this one. So are we. What drives that choice is this: we don’t want to give legislators too many other options short of cutting that massive state budget when “fiscal cliffs” come. Using the rainy day funds and the other little pots of money the state has to cover a budget deficit was something Bobby Jindal got very good at, and for a time it was somewhat effective in softening the blow as the state wound down the bloat from Katrina recovery money and Obama’s “stimulus” plan, particularly in Jindal’s second term. But the point was that he needed to right-size state government, not draw down state assets to keep paying for it. And now that we followed Jindal with an eight-year spending bacchanal under Edwards which is going to have to fall away, hard choices and real reforms have to be made.
We know that legislators won’t do those things unless they have to. This will help force their hands as the next fiscal cliff (from Edwards’ massive sales tax increase coming off the books in a year or two) approaches, so it’s worth supporting.