Friday, October 11, 2019

Louisiana Governor Election

Louisiana Governor

2016 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Status: Democrat Incumbent
Prediction: Likely Democrat

Tomorrow, voters in Louisiana will head to the polls for the first time this year to go about the process of electing a Governor and other state offices. This blog post is coming today because there is a chance, although perhaps somewhat less than likely, that the Gubernatorial election will be decided tomorrow, in the "Jungle Primary", without the need for a runoff election between the top two finishers. If that were to happen, that contest will not be until another Saturday, next month on the 16th of November. My prediction for the eventual outcome will remain the same for now.

Historically, no state has had weaker political parties as an institution than Louisiana. While the politics of the state are colorful and the lean of the voters is conservative, the past 40 years has seen a lot in the way of party switching and sometimes surprise results. Still though, Democrats used to dominate, as was the case everywhere else in the South, and in recent years, the state has moved solidly towards the GOP. A conservative Democrat was the surprise winner though four years ago over a weakened Republican opponent, and that incumbent is out to prove that his first victory was no fluke. Governor John Bel Edwards will easily finish in first place tomorrow but will he win a majority and avoid a runoff or will he have to face a Republican opponent? He is certainly hoping to end this early, but will be the favorite if a runoff is held.

In 2015, the Gubernatorial election went to a runoff, but then U.S. Senator David Vitter, who had long been considered the favorite, had to deal with a very divided party post-jungle, as well as people remembering a past personal scandal of his. The outgoing GOP Governor was also very unpopular and a drag on the party. Edwards ran on a culturally conservative platform in regards to issues like abortion and guns and won enough cross-over votes to become Governor.

Many Republicans thought this was a unique circumstance and that Edwards could be easy picking in 2019. Still though, the biggest names in the state party, including the oft-quoted U.S. Senator John Kennedy, declined to make this race. Most members of the Louisiana Republican Congressional delegation also took a pass, despite the fact that they did not risk losing their current job in an odd-year election. Some were relieved when a Republican Congressman did enter in the person of Ralph Abraham, also a physician.

It looked like the Bayou State would see a very competitive race between Edwards and Abraham, with nobody else really becoming a factor, but a second Republican has made a great deal of noise in the field and if recent polling is to be believed, has now surpassed Abraham as the top Republican. Eddie Rispone is a first time candidate and wealthy businessman who is playing up his outsider ties in a way that appeals to many who like what they have seen in Donald Trump as President. While Abraham has not been in Congress long, he might be tainted by any sort of association with Washington D.C., still he has the support of much of the state's Republican establishment.

While Rispone might seem to have the most in common with Trump in terms of biography, the truth is that all three major candidates are trying to appeal to Trump voters in a state where the very controversial incumbent President is believed to be very popular still. Just tonight, Trump held a rally in Louisiana, where I am certain that both GOP Gubernatorial candidates attended. Trump recently Tweeted a joint endorsement of both and said how important it was to get the race to a runoff. His appearance will be an attempt to gin up conservative turnout in order to hold Edwards under 50 percent. If the current President were to have endorsed one of the Republicans, it would be a huge advantage for them. He has stayed neutral however, although it appears that Donald Trump Jr. endorsed Abraham some time ago. The Congressman, perhaps feeling a bit of desperation in falling behind Rispone, has moved even further to try to appeal to Trump die-hards. He recently introduced a resolution in Congress, certain to go nowhere, to expel House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from the body.

In the meantime, John Bel Edwards has remained a socially conservative Democrat, which is likely the only type of Democrat capable of winning statewide. He recently signed a bill to restrict abortion similar to what Republican Governors in other states have done to great consternation among abortion supporters. While Trump is now going out of his way to target Edwards, the reelection seeking Governor has been very cautious in criticizing the Republican President. The Governor's job approval ratings are definitely well above that of Bobby Jindal, the outgoing Republican Governor who four years ago was seeking the GOP Presidential nomination.

There are other candidates on the Jungle Primary ballot tomorrow. One of them is frequent candidate Gary Landrieu, whom despite his well known political name and distant relation to the famous Louisiana Democrat family, is also running as a Trumpist style populist. Another Republican is also on the ballot without any semblance of major support. Finally, there is Democrat Oscar Omar Dantlzer, an African-American bus driver, who is not mounting much of a campaign but does claim to be the only anti-Trump candidate in the field and the only pro-choice one as well. Could enough liberal Democrats who are upset at Edwards cast a protest vote, costing the incumbent a chance to avoid a runoff, and into a potentially tough race against a Republican?

Clearly, if John Bel Edwards were a Republican with the same record and same position, many Democrats, even in Louisiana would want no part in voting for him. Most though are able to think strategically though in realizing he is definitely the party's only hope not just of victory but of relevance in Louisiana. With Republicans divided among two candidates and indeed with suburban affluent Republicans who may be down on Trump and willing to accept a conservative leaning Democrat, Edwards is a clear favorite at this point for four more years.

The polls show the incumbent flirting with getting 50 percent tomorrow, with the latest polls moving even more in that direction. If I had to predict, I will say that Edwards will fall a bit short. I also think it is more likely than not that Rispone will eliminate Abraham tomorrow. Many will think a runoff will tighten quickly and give the Republicans a chance to win by mid-November, but I still think Edwards will do what the polls are currently showing, and win a runoff by a solid but not overwhelming margin.

Maybe by the time the voters have the final say, I will get to have sampled one of those chicken sandwiches from "Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen. "


At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Dem Socialist Dave said...

Watch the results live from the La Sec of State (of course, you knew that's the world-renowned R. Kyle Ardoin) at this self-refreshing page — which was showing nothing at 9 p.m. EDT.

At 6:23 AM, Anonymous Dem Socialist Dave said...

Complete unofficial results with all precincts reporting and a 45% turnout:


3934 of 3934 precincts reporting – 100%
absentee reporting – 100%


626,000 John Bel Edwards (DEM) 47%
10,993 Oscar “Omar” Dantzler (DEM) 1%

368,318 “Eddie” Rispone (REP) 27%
317,115 Ralph Abraham (REP) 24%

10,966 Patrick “Live Wire” Landry (REP) 1%

10,086 Gary Landrieu (IND) 1%


Unofficial Turnout: 45.3%

At 3:12 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Bold Prediction: JBE wins reelection tonight due to massive African American turnout in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Alexandria, Shreveport.

Louisianans aren't stupid in voting out a popular Governor with budget surplus.


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