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Big night in LA for GOP, bigger for reformers, newcomers

As many anticipated, it is a good night for Republicans in Louisiana, but an even bigger night for reformers and newcomers in state politics.

Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal made history by winning the governor’s race as a non-incumbent without a general election runoff. Republican state Rep. Mike Strain forced incumbent Bob Odom into a runoff, and is likely to win there. And although he probably is the underdog, Republican Royal Alexander edged out incumbent Charles Foti to meet northeast Louisiana District Attorney James “Buddy” Caldwell. This means the Louisiana GOP now has a majority of the 7 statewide offices, and probably will have 5, maybe 6 of them after November 17.

In the Senate, Republicans made good progress. In District 31, a political newcomer knocked off a veteran Democrat House member for a pickup. In District 32, the same almost happened with Republican Neal Riser coming within a few votes of winning outright, which he probably will do in November. In District 1, a battle of House incumbents was won by A.G. Crowe to capture another seat. If Riser wins this would be a net GOP gain of 2, but Republican candidates will have to hold seats in districts 22 and 25 against experienced Democrats.

The House also trended in the GOP’s direction, a net gain for sure of 3. But more interesting than partisan results was the fact that incumbents and holdovers of all kinds had trouble. One GOP pickup was in House District 27 where incumbent Rick Farrar was annihilated. A GOP hold came in Senate District 11 where Republican state Rep. Pete Schneider similarly was blown away. In District 14 state Rep. Yvonne Dorsey could not put away a political newcomer, both Democrats. District 38 incumbent Sherri Smith Cheek barely held off another Republican who she outspent considerably. In House District 31, Republican state Rep. Don Trahan won by 33 votes over an independent.

This continues the trend noted over the past year in special elections – newcomers benefiting from trends in the voting public, and Republicans most often being those newcomers.

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