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Primary elections postponing helps some, hurts others

Did part of Sec. of State Jay Dardenne’s decision to recommend to Gov. Bobby Jindal (who took this advice of) postponing the weekend’s elections come out of concern that some candidates might be differentially affected by the impact of Hurricane Gustav, as I mused recently? If so, he’s not telling but that so quickly it was declared that conditions, even in places that only got a lot of rain, would be too disruptive to hold it on time was surprising.

Regardless, dynamics will be affected in two contests. Incumbent Rep. Rodney Alexander will not be affected by any delays as he will mop up any opposition whenever an election is held and incumbent Rep. Steve Scalise will do the same to whoever is opponent may be. Nor will Democrat Paul Carmouche running really be affected in the Fourth District as he is expected to win outright despite date changes. Contests that could be affected include the Republican side for that district and the Second District Democrat contest.

The chief factors that could be altered are those of momentum and money. Some candidates who may have been doing well earlier may find they were beginning to slide as time went by, so they will be unhappy at this delay, while others not making much progress will be given extra time to rectify that. Others built spending strategies based around the date; for example, a heavy ad blitz with big expenditures right before the election may have been believed to pay off with a runoff spot and momentum where more money could then be raised. But without such a reward, these campaigns now will be punished as, unless their candidates are wealthy, their coffers will be low without much ability to get ad time next week (or even the week after, as Dardenne has hinted there could be a two week or even more delay).

In the Second, the delay helps incumbent Rep. Bill Jefferson since his resources depends the least upon others. He can sink more personal wealth and use the advantages of his office during the extended period. Others will scramble to find money in a challenging environment. It also gives new life to slow-developing candidacies like those of Jefferson Parish Councilman Byron Lee and state Rep. Cedric Richmond who appear to have been languishing, providing overtime for them to try to turn things around.

In the Fourth, Bossier City attorney Jeff Thompson is the most adversely affected. The latest comer into the race with the fewest resources including his own, he was starting to get momentum on his side that may be interrupted by a money crunch, a period where the two candidates who largely self-financed their campaigns Minden physician John Fleming and Shreveport executive Chris Gorman can more easily adapt. Indications were Fleming and Thompson were headed to the runoff but that could change as a result of this interruption.

Whether postponement occurred, the storm was going to make an impression on these races. Whether this decision will significantly affect them remains to be seen.

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