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Qualifying shows GOP looks to extend power grasp

Qualifying for state and local elections has ended, setting up fall elections that showcase the dominance the Republican Party has assumed in the state, in the process creating some Alice-in-Wonderland moments.

As no candidate considered major entered any of the statewide races who was not a Republican, expect after the October election that if for any of these a Republican does not win outright then, including the governorship, only Republicans will be left for the general election runoffs in November. As for the governor’s race, expect incumbent Republican Bobby Jindal to win in the general election with at least 60 percent of the vote. This eventually discomfits the liberal elite such as writers at the Baton Rouge Advocate, who never would have given front-page treatment to an opponent of his with almost no money and no real grasp of preferred issues by the Louisiana public as they did when it splashed prominently the entrance into the contest of one of the several Democrat longshots hoping Jindal before election day gets caught with a live boy or a dead girl; good luck with that with this scandal-boring top officer.

This result produced a governor’s contest that features the least suspense, given the quality of candidates as a whole, since 1936.
Then, Richard Leche, at the time a minor appointed official, emerged as a compromise candidate among the Long faction – deliberately kept divided by Huey and said by him ready, willing, and able to squander the power he would (involuntarily relinquished, as he no doubt figured and what actually happened) transfer to them, which of course Leche managed to do with his imprisonment for corruption. Then, he faced a sitting Congressman and won handily.

At the Legislative level, reviewing the lineups qualifying, Republicans look assured of 24 seats to the Democrats 12. Winning the majority of the rest gives the GOP a two-thirds advantage in that body. In the House, the GOP is right on the cusp of majority status with 52 assured seats, well ahead of the 39 expected Democrat wins. If the remaining 13 contests (assuming a no-party win) go with the GOP a little under 50/50, that gives the party 58 seats. A little luck puts them at 60 or four-sevenths of the House’s composition.

So powerful, in fact, has the GOP label become that two long-time Democrats, with zero fanfare, quietly filed as Republicans this time in a bid to enable opponents of education reform to capture the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. BESE incumbent Walter Lee drew a free ride back into office, while Dale Bayard also claimed a GOP label against Republican Holly Boffy in order to stave her off after barely winning against a fairly unknown, under-financed candidate last time.

As a result, in perhaps the fact about this round most imbued with looking glass qualities, probably the most consequential Democrat in state in these elections is one who last week was not even going to run. Jindal publicly lauded Glenny Lee Buquet when she did an about-face and decided to run for another term for BESE, even when a Republican had filed to run.

The Republican tide in Louisiana will go way up the shore this fall. It may end up holding more than 60 House seats, could grab two-thirds of the Senate, will keep all statewide offices, and will establish a majority on BESE that likely aids reform. It will have been nearly 30 years since such dominance by a party existed at the state level, and stunning now is at that time it was the party on the short end of the stick.

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