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Anti-politics-as-usual trend reconfirmed by more results

And the trend continues: candidates tainted with the perception of being “politics as usual” are going to have a hard time winning office in Louisiana this year.

The special elections for two state House seats are congruent with results of previous such legislative contests. District 4 had two ex-politicians face off, but the one who prevailed has the least connection to past politics. Democrat Patrick Williams served just a term as a Caddo Parish commissioner before choosing to run for and fail to gain this seat in 2003. His decisively defeated opponent Democrat Larry Ferdinand, by contrast, has served almost continuously in government for 30 years, first as a Shreveport city councilman, then working for the city, and most recently working for the state.

More to this point was the results of the District 94 contest, where political newcomer Republican Nick Lorusso bested fellow GOP member Jeb Bruneau. The latter is the son of the present seat-holder Peppi Bruneau, and that relationship appears to have been a major factor in Lorusso’s triumph.

The elder Bruneau resigned weeks ago in order to trigger a special election to have a winner seated right as the Apr. 30 regular session of the Legislature began. Lorusso, and others, charged it was an effort to have an election when a smaller portion of casual voters would participate and, with attention spans lower among the electorate rather than during a regular election, the Bruneau machine would get working and the Bruneau name would carry greater weight as a factor in making a vote decision to the assistance of the younger Bruneau.

Instead, this early resignation became an issue and looks to have backfired if that were the intent – but a risk perhaps the Bruneau’s were willing to take. Peppi is an astute politician and may have figured anti-incumbent or anything that smacked of an incumbent sentiment in October would make a special election a better bet for his son. If so, he underestimated the swelling of power of this sentiment that looks ready to intensify as the year moves along to the benefit of legislative newcomers and disproportionately against Democrats.

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