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Change law to avoid electoral ménage à trois

At the very least, change Louisiana election rules about runoffs. Better yet, change the entire election system.

That’s lesson to be drawn from the unusual result from last Saturday’s balloting in Senate District 16. The heavily-Republican district produced two GOP candidates with the exact same vote totals, trailing a Democrat. Under Louisiana law, that makes for a runoff among all three candidates, which would have made the Democrat the favorite to win a district someone from her party by the numbers had no business winning.

As it turned out, a recount turned up an additional vote for one of the Republicans, avoiding the ménage à trois. Regardless, the incident should serve as a signal to make some changes. The rule that a runoff should go to three candidates if the second- and third-ranked tie might make sense if Louisiana had an open or closed primary system. In that instance, a general election would feature party nominees (and any no party candidates), of which by definition there could be only one of each.


Resisting St. George illustrates backwards LA

If you want to understand why Louisiana does so poorly in providing opportunity to its citizens, look no further than the St. George microcosm.

Under the radar statewide in last week’s election, a small but comfortable majority voted the new city into existence. This came despite an enormous effort over the past half-dozen years by representatives of the status quo to prevent its birth, sending waves of disinformation about its formation cascading over the local polity.

Those special interests included most local government elites, prominent citizens who didn’t live in the unincorporated area, and largely Democrats at the state level. They hate what St. George stands for: an example of citizens taking back self-governance from elites who support, if not openly then tacitly, the tax-and-spend/crony capitalist/good-old-boy-and-girl government that has shortchanged Louisiana for decades.


LA elections force Democrats into odd strategy

Oddly, Louisiana Democrats likely will stay away from supporting their own party’s candidates to try to run the runoff election table to avoid an electoral catastrophe for the state’s political left.

When the dust settled after Saturday’s elections, with one exception Louisiana’s conservatives had much about which to cheer. That bit of rain on their parade came in the form of incumbent Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards getting above 46 percent of the vote, making him the favorite to win reelection against Republican businessman Eddie Rispone in about a month’s time.

Everything else set the state’s left up for close to political disaster at the state level. Republicans snared enough House seats to put them on track to get a supermajority of 70. They reached the Senate supermajority mark of 26. A solid pro-reform majority appeared on poised to continue on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. In the only Supreme Court contest on the ballot, appellate court judge Will Crain, a solid conservative, led the field.


Few dramatic NWLA races, but those went big

Drama appeared in few races this weekend in Bossier and Caddo Parishes, but what few had it produced a lot of it.

Somnambulant Bossier Parish contests – what few occurred in following the generally apathetic attitudes of its citizenry – did result in the dumping of appointed Norman Craig in District 4 in favor of John Ed Jorden, while incumbent Glenn Benton easily turned back a challenge in District 2, Chris Marsiglia picked up the open District 6 seat and Philip Rogers and Jim Viola headed to a runoff for the vacant District 3 seat. All are Republicans, which will leave the GOP with a comfortable 9-2-1 majority.

The real action came with the District 36 state Senate contest. Four years ago, Republican Ryan Gatti ran complaining about tax increases. Squeaking in, he immediately voted to raise taxes and spent the next four years assisting his old chum Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards in growing state government and thwarting tort reform that threatened the amount of lucre he acquires in his full-time job as a trial lawyer.


Edwards only LA Democrat election bright spot

For the first time this election season, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards can be called the favorite to win reelection. It was about the only thing that went right for Louisiana Democrats and their fellow travelers in the 2019 state general elections.

Edwards ended up just over 46.5 percent of the vote, with Republican businessman Eddie Rispone edging past GOP Rep. Ralph Abraham for a runoff spot at a bit over 27 percent of the vote. Three minor candidates collected fewer than three percent among them.

Together, the two major Republicans pulled down just on 51 percent of the vote. They can count on perhaps two percent that went to the minor candidates; with most of the rest not voting in the runoff. Few of these contrarian voters will cast abllots for Edwards; people who vote for minor candidates either do it knowing they don’t want to vote for the incumbent or feel so principled that they won’t vote for anybody but that candidate.


Edwards on defensive; Rispone wins debate

Finally, some body blows were landed in the final statewide televised Louisiana gubernatorial forum of 2019, to the chagrin of Democrats.

As always, participants had differing objectives. For incumbent Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, he needed to keep on dancing fast, trying his best to explain away, if not put nausea-inducing spin on, Louisiana’s worst, if not the worst, economic performance in the nation during his term, induced by tax increases well beyond necessary for the additional spending (that increased almost twice the rate of inflation in terms of state dollars used) he supported. He also needed to dodge whatever of a host of things not related to economics that his opponents Republicans Rep. Ralph Abraham and Eddie Rispone could work them into the mix.

As for the GOP challengers, they had a two-front battle on their hands. Each had to figure out a way to push past the other into an almost-certain runoff and do it in a way that would damage Edwards. Whichever can do both of these in the forum and then amplify that over the next five-plus weeks can become Louisiana’s 57th governor.


Colleges should avoid appearance of favoritism

Several Louisiana higher education institutions may have put their thumbs on the scale to aid anti-reform candidates in Board of Elementary and Secondary Education contests.

From the middle of September on, candidate forums were conducted across the state for the seven contests on the ballot this Saturday. These were conducted by a recently-formed interest group called the Louisiana Public Schools Coalition, comprised of unions and special interests tied to district superintendents and school boards -- all of whom have a history of resisting a reform agenda that emphasizes measured classroom achievement, educational choice, and commitment to escalating standards.

The forums (some of which were recorded) naturally were imbalanced in that the questions came from the organizers (although not all were moderated by people associated with the organizers) and from members in an audience typically stacked with sympathizers, if not affiliates, of the special interests behind the group. There’s nothing wrong with that; candidates know what they get into and even if proceedings slant to promote certain views, useful information for voters can come from that. (Not all pro-reform incumbents attended the forums.)


Blacks unenthusiastic about rehiring Edwards

A reason Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ reelection chances, according to early voting totals, have started to slip away is an understandable lower enthusiasm in the black community for him.

Not only did early voting data for the Oct. 12 election show that Republicans disproportionatelyparticipated relative to Democrats, so did whites relative to blacks. Across the ten most recent statewide elections spanning 2014-18, on average 8.51 percent of whites and 7.06 percent of blacks voted early. For early voting concluding last weekend, the numbers respectively were 14.35 and 10.18, with the gap going from a past mean of 1.45 to this election’s 4.17.

Historically across the ten elections, come election day the ratio of early to election day votes for whites has been 4.62 and for blacks 4.8, meaning to a small degree that whites disproportionately use early voting compared to blacks, so that ameliorates somewhat the impact of early voting in carrying through to election day results. Consider also that the historic overall turnout gap has been about 5 percent higher turnout for whites, or about 3.5 times higher than that for early voting.


Caddo elections figure into statue removal

As Caddo Parish sinks deeper into the political and legal morass involving its decision to remove the courthouse’s Confederate monument, election year politics come more firmly into play.

After the Parish Commission voted in 2017 to move the United Daughters of the Confederacy monument on the grounds since the early part of the 20th century then last year a federal court decided the parish owned the ground underneath the memorial which an appellate court upheld this year, in August the Commission sent the UDC chapter a demand letter to move the statuary in 90 days.

An analysis by Republican state Rep. Thomas Carmody, acting independently of his office and unpaid by the parties involved, told the Commission it used a faulty interpretation of the state’s Civil Code that might entice a suit should it try to move the monument. To add insult to injury, the UDC told the Commission to go pound sand.


Early voting numbers signal Edwards defeat

Early voting statistics for the Oct. 12 Louisiana statewide general election are in, with anecdotal reports based on figures earlier in the process leading to conjecture of a Republican advantage. Those forecasts appear accurate, the final early voting data show.

To determine whether any party’s candidates have an advantage, data from the previous five years of contests with a statewide elective office on them can be used. This yields ten data points. For each election, the proportion of early voting compared to total registration and final turnout percentage may be computed to make a ratio of total turnout percent to early voting percent. An average of these total/early proportions can create a benchmark to forecast total turnout.

Democrats have averaged 39.26 percent total turnout while Republicans have averaged 43.59 percent. In terms of early voting over this span, those means respectively are 8.47 and 10.14. Thus, the ratio for Democrats, is 4.65; for Republicans, it’s 4.35. This shows in recent history that of those who vote Democrats in comparison to Republicans disproportionately don’t vote early, with early votes making up 21.5 percent of their total while for the GOP its early voters comprise 23 percent of that total.