Welcome to the big time, Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy, and
all the liberal media slings and arrows that come with that.
Those who have followed Louisiana politics for the
past two decades know Kennedy as an entertaining quote machine about a range of
subjects (some not always directly connected to the policy aspects of his job)
that resonated well with the state’s public. In part because of that, he could
have sent Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards
back to Tangipahoa Parish courthouse politicking with ease in this fall’s
But in his two years in Washington, the national media
have picked up on his quotability and he receives attention out of proportion
to his status as a very junior senator. Probably no freshman garners as much airtime
on national networks as does he, with the possible exception of Missouri’s
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley.
Paint political phenomena with too broad of a brush
and your risk erroneous analysis, which some observers did regarding Louisiana’s
2019 gubernatorial election.
In the wake of incumbent Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards narrow
win over Republican Eddie Rispone, some analysts identified voting patterns in
suburbs as a key. Rispone easily dispatched Edwards in rural parishes in winning
40 of the state’s 64 parishes, while Edwards countered with an overwhelming victory
in Orleans (New Orleans) and comfortable wins in East Baton Rouge (Baton Rouge)
and Caddo (Shreveport).
Given that Edwards outlasted Rispone by only around
40,000 votes, it might appear that “suburbs” made the difference. Jefferson
Parish, just west of Orleans, gave four-sevenths of its vote to Edwards, and in
East Baton Rouge, where about half the population doesn’t live in the city, Edwards
took two-thirds of those ballots.
In two years’ time will occur perhaps the most
lasting single consequence of Louisiana’s 2019 state elections, reapportionment.
By the end of 2021,
the state must have districts drawn representing Congress, both chambers of the
Legislature, the Supreme Court and courts of appeals, the Board of Elementary
and Secondary Education, and the Public Service Commission, using the 2020
census data released at the end of that year. In all likelihood, this will
occur by special session sometime in 2021.
Redrawing districts happens through the regular legislative
process: a bill which must reach majority votes in each legislative chamber and
gain gubernatorial assent defines these boundaries for each kind of government
institution. If vetoed, two-thirds majorities override.