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Likely GOP incremental gains in LA fall elections

After qualifying for state and local elections for this fall in Louisiana has ended, the only question is whether Democrats can prevent their position from eroding further for state offices.

Concerning the seven statewide elected positions, all presently in the hands of Republicans, that status seems highly unlikely to change. They will hold the Treasurer’s position for sure with incumbent John Kennedy the overwhelming favorite. Fellow GOP members Secretary of State Tom Schedler and Agriculture Secretary Mike Strain almost certainly will win without a runoff, while the GOP’s Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, with two Democrat opponents, might get forced into a runoff but that he easily should win. If Republican Atty. Gen. Buddy Caldwell doesn’t win reelection, the GOP’s former Rep. Jeff Landry is the heavy favorite to replace him.

Democrats state Rep. John Bel Edwards and Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden are great bets to advance to a runoff for the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s races, respectively, but would be heavy underdogs to whichever Republican they would face. The question isn’t whether Democrats can win one these spots, but instead how conservative of a Republican will defeat them in their runoffs, with the overall tilt to the right of the political spectrum also becoming more pronounced among statewide elected officials if Landry wins.

Nor do Democrats look to reclaim any ground from Republicans in legislative contests. In the state Senate, only six open seats are held by Republicans now and they will lose one, the 24th District as no Republican signed up to contest that one. However, they are favored to capture the 12th and have a chance at the 29th, an open Democrat seat that is a majority-black district with a black Republican running against a white Democrat, which will show the relative strengths of party and race in vote determination. In the other districts now held by them, Republicans are expected to win and lose in the ones held by Democrats (in all, the GOP will win a minimum of 18 seats while Democrats will claim a minimum of 8), probably leaving their two-thirds chamber majority intact, if not improved.

In the House, few inter-party races should be competitive in a way that would allow Democrats to eat into the GOP majority. Only six total look like they go could either way, with incumbents Democrat Dorothy Sue Hill of the 32nd,  Democrat Stephen Ortego of the 39th, and Republican Ray Garofalo of the 103rd vulnerable. The other three are open seats, the 13th currently Republican and the 41st and 60th now claimed by Democrats. Flipping a coin, the GOP gains one from these.

Regarding all other seats, the incumbent party (or no-party incumbent) is expected to win those (Republicans will win a minimum of 44 while Democrats are guaranteed 34). Surprises always can pop up, but they should be far and few between so, again, if any party gains this time out, odds are it will be the Republicans, leaving them with a majority of several seats.

As disheartening as this might be for Democrats, it could have been worse, largely because Republicans did not field candidates in several places that they could have taken over. In these days and times, a good rule of thumb is a Republican can win in a district where their numbers are roughly equal to the number of black Democrats and the number of white Democrats is around twice their size or more (although the greater the advantage of Republicans over black Democrats, the smaller the white Democrat numbers can be).

Using this metric, the GOP would have been competitive in state Sen. Gary Smith’s 19th, state Sen. Eric LaFleur’s 28th, state Rep. Gene Reynolds’ 10th, state Rep. Robert Johnson’s 28th, state Rep. James Armes’ 30th, state Rep. Mike Danahay’s 33rd, state Rep. Bernard LeBas’ 38th, state Rep. Jack Montoucet’s 42nd, state Rep. Truck Gisclair’s 54th, and state Rep. Neil Abramson’s 98th. While all of these incumbents ran again, quality candidates would have had a decent chance to claim a couple of scalps. In addition, the open 75th House District fits these metrics and would have presented an excellent pickup opportunity.

More diligent party-building by the state GOP might have given the party’s next governor more than a four-sevenths advantage for the next four years. But having come to dominance in just the past few years, it must learn how to press its natural advantage instead of expending energy on controlling factionalism, which then might produce something closer to the astounding majorities experienced by the Texas Republicans.

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