LA 2012 elections produce winners, winners-in-waiting
Although the election calendar claims we’re going to have some contests in Louisiana on Dec. 8, in reality all statewide contests substantively will have been settled over a month earlier. Yet this outcome wasn’t the most interesting one in state politics from this election.
But perhaps the most intriguing result of the night came on the 67 separate votes to impose three-term limits for each and every school board that did not already have them. For years, interests representing school boards and systems, if not the majority of school board members themselves, bitterly fought against passing any state law imposing them, until a compromise allowing the chance to implement them in the form of local option votes broke through. And not only did voters in every single jurisdiction vote them in, they did so overwhelmingly with scarcely any getting less than 70 percent approval, indicating that the people were of a very different opinion on this than the subjects of those elections.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Public Service Commission District 2 contest did end without further voting with former state executive branch official Scott Angelle winning a majority. Considered the favorite with his fundraising ability as evidence, he proved strong enough not to need a runoff. This demonstration begins a solid electoral base for him to build on should his ambitions grow for more prestigious offices in the future.
By contrast, in the contest to fill the open Supreme Court District 5, the demographics suggested that Democrat 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John Michael Guidry would face any of several Republicans in a runoff where the Republican would win and to some degree every Republican was competitive. The thinking was that whoever wound up second would have become so narrowly, but instead another Republican from that court, Court of Appeals Judge Jeff Hughes surprisingly created some separation from the others to claim that spot while all but one of them ended up with roughly the same number of votes.
While some late money from legacy lawsuit trial lawyers appears to have come into the campaign to benefit Hughes, could his triumph have been as simple as saying he’d turn on the poison? Among the competitive candidates for the job, only Hughes volunteered he favored capital punishment, which sentences the Court automatically reviews. Among a public generally that favors this as a punishment option, that may have set him apart from the others in a kind of contest that typically has few to no issues. He now is the overwhelming favorite to win a ten-year term.
And in another contest that will have a runoff but really is over barring incredible circumstances, in the Third Congressional District pitting two incumbents together because of redistricting, Rep. Charles Boustany led Rep. Jeff Landry by about 15 percent. Given the runoff election without a presidential race will bring out a more ideological electorate with proportionally fewer Democrats, and in many places perhaps with no other races on the ballot, Landry being the more ideological candidate and marginally more conservative might have been expected to have an electorate more to his liking than that which showed up in the general election. But not 15 percentage points worth, effectively ending this race.
All of the other congressional incumbents cruised to reelection except for, in very unanticipated fashion, Rep. Cedric Richmond, who ended in up in quite a fight to avoid a runoff. He barely succeeded where he almost wound up having to run against a largely unknown cousin of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Gary Landrieu. That might have set up an extremely dangerous election for Richmond, as Landrieu, especially with his high-profile name, might have been able to take advantage of the same dynamics of a runoff contest (minus the fact that Richmond hasn’t been arrested of anything worse than for a bar fight) as did former Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao to pull off an upset.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 23:45