Search This Blog


GOP favorite to retain special election House seats

Qualifying for the two special elections for U.S. House in Louisiana are over, and conservative Republicans are immediate favorites to take both seats.

That’s not such a bold statement concerning the First District. Vacated by Gov. Bobby Jindal who won overwhelmingly both times out, the winner of the Republican primary in March or April would have to become incapacitated prior to the April or May general election in order for a Democrat to win. The three major Republicans – state Sen. Steve Scalise, state Rep. Tim Burns, and Slidell Mayor Ben Morris – are very likely to pursue conservative policies in the House.

Scalise would be favored among the three. Not only has he served in elective office longest but he has been the most high profile of the three and has picked up some heavyweight endorsements. Further aiding him is that Burns and Morris are northshore candidates, splitting that vote potentially and leaving the southshore entirely to Scalise. It’s not likely Scalise can win without a runoff with Burns being the more likely opponent, but he should be able to get past his former state House colleague in April.

The Sixth District in contrast might have been more competitive but the dynamics in the Democrat primary may hand the election to the Republicans. Louis “Woody” Jenkins would be the favorite on the GOP side because of much more name recognition and past campaign acumen. Many still recall how he beat more prominent Republicans to come within a few thousand votes of winning the U.S. Senate seat still held by Mary Landrieu (and most won’t remember how he waged a futile protracted battle to overturn the decision which cost him support in his failed run to win the old elections commissioner job in 1999.)

It will be difficult for his two other major opponents to outdistance a longtime fixture on the Baton Rouge and state media and politics scenes with an impeccably conservative reputation. Jenkins could win without a runoff.

Despite knowing that demographics make it impossible for a non-conservative black candidate to win this district, two quality black candidates signed up to run on the Democrat side of the ledger along with two major white candidates. Jason Decuir came within double digits in votes of knocking off prominent former state House member state Sen. Yvonne Dorsey last fall, an impressive showing for a first-timer despite that power broker former state Sen. Cleo Fields supported Dorsey. The other black Democrat isn’t chopped liver, state Rep. Michael Jackson, but whether he can beat DeCuir depends upon how much animus Fields and his political machine feels towards DeCuir and whether that means Fields will actively support Jackson.

Major white candidates are state Rep. Don Cazayoux and former government official under the previous two governors Andy Kopplin. Between these two, Cazayoux has the edge because of his lengthy and relatively uncontroversial legislative service while Kopplin will be associated with the negatives of both the Kathleen Blanco and Mike Foster Administrations which will outweigh any praise from his work on recovery issues, even if he can more easily draw upon votes from the urban parts of the district than Cazayoux from New Roads.

But since all four are running together, really interesting dynamics could occur. Given extant campaign organizations, the propensity for whites to cross over racially to vote for black candidates at higher rates than blacks for whites, and that many white Democrats will not vote because they would prefer to vote in the Republican primary but cannot, it is not inconceivable that both black candidates will make the runoff, retaining the district for sure for the GOP. Even if a white candidate emerges to contest the general election, the ferocity and drain of resources of his getting there might preclude him from winning. This is the kind of district where everything has to go right for a Democrat to win, and the candidate lineup doesn’t make it look like that will happen.

These are early speculations, mind you, and much still can happen. But the most likely scenario is two GOP retentions.


Anonymous said...

What part of squeezing $28 BILLION in hurricane recovery money from the Federal government would you consider controversial about Andy Kopplin's legislative service? Kopplin went to D.C. nearly two dozen times on behalf of Louisiana. While the likes of Cazayoux, Decuir and the other candidates running have district experience, none of them has had to go to bat for Louisiana in a Federal arena like Kopplin has. And won. I mean, come on! Becoming head of the Louisiana Recovery Authority was not a political move for his career, it was simply the right thing to do when the right thing needed to be done. That is the kind of guy that Andy Kopplin is. Those of us who know him, know that well. Plus, he is a Harvard man and brilliant to boot. Ask anyone who has ever worked with him. Now is the time for Louisiana to get SMART. Kopplin's the man for district 6.

Jeff Sadow said...

>What part of squeezing $28 BILLION in hurricane recovery money from the Federal government would you consider controversial about Andy Kopplin's legislative service?

Not his legislative service, his service in high-ranking positions to former Govs. Foster and Blanco. And he wasn't the main guy in any way that got recovery money out of D.C. -- you can thank Jindal and other federal elected officials for that, although that money was coming regardless of who led the LRA (which, by the way, his getting that job was falling on his sword for Blanco after the horrendous post-Katrina performance of he, Blanco, and the rest of Blanco's staff).

And, when people think of "LRA," many probably are first going to think "Road Home" and then of far less complimentary terms. That association more likely is to hurt him than help him politically.

Anonymous said...


Do you realize that their is an independent candidate in this race that can make things interesting?

Jeff Sadow said...

Not sure which of these you mean. Yes, the 1st has two and the 6th three, but none of them are likely to make it interesting enough to deny an almost certain GOP win in the 1st, and a likely GOP win in the 6th.