With roughly a week or so to go until Louisiana voters weigh in on our Dec. 8 runoff ballots, let’s take a quick look back at the November primary results to better understand what we’ll be walking into to kick off the Christmas season
If you’re in a parish with law enforcement-related races pending, you may want to pay particular attention to the party affiliations of those candidates.
There could be a notable trend building. For example, in the primary race for sheriff in St. Mary Parish, three of the top four finishers held no party affiliations, including one of the runoff contenders. The second round pits Scott Anslum (no party, 34%) against Blaise W. Smith (Democrat, 23%). In the state’s other 2018 race for sheriff in DeSoto Parish, Jayson Richardson (no party, 62%) beat out Gary Hobbs (Independent, 38%).
These races don’t exactly make for a trend, but local officials do seem to be dropping party labels at an accelerated rate. While this could be particularly important to watch among the ranks of sheriffs, a few police chief runoffs, such as those in Acadia, Bienville and other parishes, feature a handful of no party candidates.
Noticeably absent from the December runoff ballot will be constitutional amendments. There were six on the primary ballot, and all passed with margins ranging from 56% to 72%.
If you’re a supporter of another constitutional convention, then here’s some relatively bad news in those results, depending on your perspective. As long as the voting public is content with incrementally crafting fundamental law via amendments, momentum will be difficult to build.
With minimal deviations, voters also apparently lost interest in actually voting the further down the ballot they went. The constitutional amendments served as another reminded of this sad trend. There were 1.46 million votes cast for the first amendment, then 1.45 million for the second, and further along the fifth and sixth amendments listed notched 1.41 million and 1.40 million votes, respectively.
Likewise missing from the December runoff ballot will be congressional races, thanks to a clean sweep of wins by the Bayou State delegation. Here are some takeaways:
- No one received more votes (192,526) in a Louisiana congressional race this cycle than U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.
- Congressman Garret Graves can bring in a crowd, as evidenced by the 53.2% turnout in the 6th District. When compared to Louisiana’s five other seats in the House, it had the highest level of voter engagement.
- Congressman Clay Higgins has his foothold in the 3rd District. He karate-chopped six opponents in the primary with 56% of the vote. (A couple of the challengers had money, and one attempted to benefit from his connections to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who recorded robocalls.)
- Ryan Trundle is a north Louisiana Democrat who you’ve probably never heard of. But he does hold the distinction of receiving the most votes in a Louisiana congressional race this cycle for a non-incumbent. Trundle notched 72,923 votes in the 4th District. So who is he? Trundle is a Shreveport resident and an environmental activist. He also worked on the 2016 presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
As for the Louisiana Legislature and it’s never-ending supply of special elections, it’s now down to one for this calendar year. The last contest of 2018 is taking place in House District 90 in St. Tammany Parish. First-place Republican Mary DuBuisson has advanced to the second round against preacher and reality TV personality John Raymond. Democrat Sean Morrison was squeezed out of the runoff by five votes, and could become a major factor.
The only statewide race of the year is also the marquee race of the runoff cycle. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, a Republican, is trying to keep hold of his job against a challenge from Democrat, “Gwen” Collins-Greenup. In eight parishes, this matchup for secretary of state is the only race on the ballot. Another nine parishes have the SOS election on their ballots as well, alongside a limited number of propositions.
But that doesn’t mean turnout should suffer. The remaining parishes have all of the proverbial bells and whistles on their ballots, from the secretary of state race to local elections. Plus, early voting is already underway — it convened last week, on Nov. 24, and concludes Saturday, Dec. 1. You also have until Tuesday, Dec. 4, to request a mail ballot. So vote! Fill out a ballot.
Interest should be high for our December runoffs, even if turnout fails to top the 50.8% engagement rate from the November primary. I’d love nothing more, however, than to be proven wrong on that assumption.