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Result shows pro-GOP, anti-incumbent trend continues

The next marker in the quest to figure out where the 2007 elections are headed came with the special election in House District 94. The term-limited unreliably conservative but entertaining (we will miss his banter in committee and on the House floor) state Rep. Peppi Bruneau will hand over the reins of the district just as the regular session starts, doing so he said to give the winner more seniority in the chamber, while critics said he was trying to better position to succeed him his son Jeb Bruneau .

I’ve noted that, with the coming of term limits for legislators and the increasingly apparent internal contradictions and invalidity of the liberal/populist ethos in Louisiana as the state gets kicked dragging and screaming into by events beyond its control, that Republicans and/or non-incumbents will make major gains in political contests this year. This contest proves interesting in this regard, for it is a reliably conservative district but with Bruneau the younger a kind of quasi-incumbent and having three other GOP challengers along with a pair of Democrats putting up a fight to prevent his ascension.

If Bruneau won outright, it would tend to support the Republican part of the hypothesis but not the incumbent one (whose only real strong support to date comes from the dismantling that newcomer state Sen. Ted Cassidy brought to potential-chamber-jumper state Rep. William Daniel IV in both Republicans’ quest in December for the Senate District 16 open seat). If another Republican won outright, that would provide strong evidence for both. Two Republicans, or even one, in a general election runoff would keep us guessing, but that Bruneau was denied an outright win would tend to bolster the anti-incumbent hypothesis.

And the answer? Certainly no sign that it won’t be a favorable Republican year, as Bruneau with 32 percent and another Republican, Nick Lorusso (endorsed by the Alliance for Good Government) with 25 percent, made the runoff. And, the fact that Lorusso pushed Bruneau into a runoff, not trailing him by much, may mean that anti-incumbent sentiment may swell in support of Lorusso.

One interesting dynamic was the two Democrats picked up 39 percent of the vote, with one not far behind Lorusso. Much of this vote could go to Lorusso out of spite of Bruneau. Running just one of them might well have gotten that one into the runoff, although it’s not likely anti-incumbent sentiment would cancel out partisanship and ideology leading Bruneau to win. No doubt this will displease my good friends at a rabidly pro-Democrat blog that occasionally links to this space who must feel like they have their fingers in the creaking Democrat majority dike in the state (I must correct them about one thing in that, as they refer to me as a “Republican operative,” that other than a GOP party registration I proudly acquired just after graduating high school I have no affiliation with the party).

It’s just one special election in one small part of the state, but it’s more evidence pointing to a favorable Republican trend this election cycle, and, given that Bruneau was forced into a runoff so his chances of winning are at best even money, that the anti-incumbent feeling is itself alive and well.

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