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Landry pushes Henry into LA Senate leadership

Grass definitely isn’t growing under the feet of Louisiana’s governor-elect, Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry as the nightmare extends for the state’s political left.

Thursday, recently reelected GOP state Sen. Cameron Henry announced senators of the 2024-28 term — all but two already known after last weekend’s elections — had settled on him to helm the Senate. Jockeying had been going on before the election between him and Republican Mike Reese, like him finishing his first term, for the president’s post.

The decision came so quickly not only because almost all seats had been filled but also given who won a number of seats. Several intraparty matchups candidates featured limited government conservatives serving presently in the House who consistently voted that way, against other Republicans who at critical junctures defected from that worldview or other get-along-go-along social conservatives recruited from outside state government, with the more conservative triumphing in every case. They had worked with Henry, one of the stauncher fiscal conservatives in his career, in the past when he spent the 2016-20 term there as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and are ideologically compatible with him.


Winners, losers already there in LA elections

It’s not too early to declare some winners and losers in Louisiana’s state elections this cycle, primarily because so many contests already have been decided or wrote on the wall what will come in next month’s runoff elections.

WINNER: Jeff Landry. The Republican attorney general wiped out all opposition in the gubernatorial race, in the most impressive display of the 1974 Constitution era. He became the first first-time candidate ever to win without a runoff and joining only Democrat Edwin Edwards (1983), Republican Mike Foster (1999), and Republican Bobby Jindal (2007 and 2011) in pulling off the feat of a general election triumph. That he did so bodes well for his powers of persuasion in herding the Legislature, which almost certainly will deliver supermajorities for his party, towards delivering on an agenda that looks to be the most transformative in a century.

WINNER: Billy Nungesser. The chattering class (see Loser below) thought he could give Landry a run for his money and were somewhat surprised when the Republican passed on that race to win reelection as lieutenant governor. Perhaps he knew something that other like GOP Treas. John Schroder and GOP state Sen. Sharon Hewitt didn’t, that Landry would win. His big win keeps him in office while others retire or hope to bag jobs in the Landry Administration.


Organization key to Bossier winners, losers

With all but one contest at the state and local levels resolved, elections this cycle in Bossier Parish demonstrated that to come close to beating its political establishment, you had to have a pretty organized effort behind you.

At stake were all the seats on the Police Jury as well as two state Senate and two state House of Representative slots, with a couple of House posts already decided when House District 10 incumbent Republican Wayne McMahen and House District 5 newcomer Republican Dennis Bamburg didn’t draw opponents, as well as a few juror positions with just incumbents filing. Among the others, in all but one Jury and one House seat establishment forces had a rooting interest in, if not intense involvement supporting, a particular candidate.

The House race it didn’t particularly care about was the District 2 matchup between Caddo Parish Democrats Terence Vinson from the School Board and Steven Jackson from the Parish Commission. It offered a contrast in styles both in terms of candidates and campaigns: Vinson utilizing traditional canvassing methods and with a steady record in office, while Jackson spent more overall and more on media to go with his more controversial personality, most recently being convicted for impersonation of a police officer. That apparently didn’t faze enough voters, who gave him a narrow win.


LA election results encouraging for conservatism

Recent state and local elections in Louisiana essentially confirmed that Republicans as expected would pick up a seat in each chamber in the Legislature, but produce a more conservative Senate beyond that.

Before any votes were cast, Republicans already had sewed up majorities in both legislative chambers. In the Senate, 12 were elected unopposed (including those who originally had opponents later disqualified) while another 10 featured all-GOP contests. In the House, 31 eventually faced no opposition and 25 were all-GOP affairs. Democrats were guaranteed 8 Senate seats and 29 in the House. This meant fewer than half of Senate seats had any competition at all, and in the House just over half did.

Of the remaining 9 Senate and 20 House contests – meaning inter-party competition in only 23 percent in the Senate and 19 percent in the House – 4 in the Senate were heads-up matches between the two major parties and 5 such in the House, although in another couple a Republican went head-to-head with a non-Democrat (and another with multiple Republicans running), so party composition of these would be resolved with certainty. In all, the Senate had 5 party-contested races in GOP-leaning districts and in 3 leaning to Democrats, while in the House this occurred in 12 with a tilt to Republicans and in 5 tilting to Democrats.


Quick Landry win restarts LA political evolution

The ideological left and political consultants were the biggest losers in Louisiana’s 2023 general election, as the state went back to the future with new heights attained in the political career of Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry, who fewer than a dozen years ago looked to have little future in politics but now becomes the lodestar for genuine, far-reaching conservative policy change.

Landry assumed an additional title this past weekend: governor-elect, when he bested a field of a 15 with 52 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff. Nobody else came close – Democrat former cabinet member Shawn Wilson (26 percent) barely got half of Landry’s total and the combination of Republican former gubernatorial official Stephen Waguespack (5.9 percent), Republican Treas. John Schroder (5.3 percent), independent trial lawyer Hunter Lundy (4.9 percent), Republican state Sen. Sharon Hewitt (1.7 percent), and Republican state Rep. Richard Nelson (0.3 percent, comprised of voters who didn’t get the memo that he had withdrawn about a month ago) that drew barely more than a third of Landry’s haul even as collectively they spent in 2023 $9.2 million through nearly the end of September, only $400,000 fewer than did Landry.

This result reverberates on different levels. Perhaps the outright general election win, only the second by a newcomer to the Governor’s Mansion after Republican Bobby Jindal’s second try in 2007, was predictable. Landry’s first campaign in 2007 saw him fall fewer than 600 votes short from defeating a sitting Democrat state representative for a state senate seat, and in his next in 2010 he knocked off a former speaker of the House on the way to winning a congressional seat.