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GOP set to make LA gains, but missed bigger ones

Republicans should be cautiously optimistic about their state elective office chances in this fall’s elections given the list of qualifiers for those positions that was completed of Thursday.

Things are really looking up for the GOP at the statewide executive level. (Recent) Republican Treasurer John Kennedy was reelected unopposed and only token opposition surfaced against Secretary of State Jay Dardenne and Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon. With Rep. Bobby Jindal running away with the governor’s race, the GOP looks almost certain to lock up a majority of the executive offices for the first time since Reconstruction.

Worse for Democrats, the chances of Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom and Attorney General Charles Foti are even at best, given the controversial terms and ethics and legal charges against the former and the latter’s penchant for whipping up publicity about cases that his office cannot guide to convictions. Only Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu among Democrats can be considered a favorite going into his contest, but his chances of losing are not trivial given the quality of his Republican opponents. At this point, chances are the Republicans can take five of the seven slots.

In the Senate, by the end of qualifying, Democrats had 17 secure seats and Republicans 8 (this includes contests where the only competition to one or more of a major party’s candidates is not from the other major party). This already represents a pickup of a seat for the Democrats (know because the term-limited incumbent will be replaced by someone from the other party running unopposed). In the House, Democrats secured 38 seats, the Republicans 29 and the lone present (GOP-leaning) independent reelected without opposition, a net change of zero (one seat flipped for each party).

These numbers point out the greater difficulty the GOP will have in trying to win the Senate for the first time since Reconstruction. Already down a seat, they’ll likely get it back in the 1st and have their best chances of picking up seats in the 31st and 32nd, but may lose the 25th so they may come out only up one behind their current situation, 25-14.

Their chances in the House are much brighter. Seats they have a good chance to take are the 15th, 39th, 98th, and 103rd which would move them to within 7 of a working majority; no GOP seats look as ripe to change as these do potentially but there are several other competitive seats from both parties that, if the Republicans manage to take about three-quarters of those in addition to these, will bring them the majority.

This disparity at the statewide vs. legislative level points out that the Republicans still are a little short of bench strength. It may seem hard to believe now, but just two decades ago few Republicans were elected to any state or local offices and so while with just seven statewide offices there’s a sufficient pool of quality candidates, when considering the 144 legislative seats, the relative lack of experienced candidates at the local level plus the relative lack of organization of the Republican party apparatus (the Democrats are also but this penalizes them much less with many more experienced candidates at the local level) detracts from what looks to be a very good election year for the party.

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