Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Race of the Day- Louisiana U.S. Senate

Louisiana U.S. Senate

83 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Likely Republican

Conventional wisdom would state that this race would be "safe" for the GOP and by calling it "Likely Republican", I am not really taking issue with that. There are just some unknown and unique factors to take into consideration and there has not been any polling done. The top Democrat in the race, who entered just before the July filing deadline, also changed the calculus a bit.
As most political junkies know, Louisiana's "jungle primary" is pretty unique. California and Washington have adopted it, but they have actual primaries, to produce two candidates, of whatever party, who then face off in November. The "primary" in Louisiana on on Election Day in November. It also is frequently the deciding contest. Candidates of all parties run together and if someone receives a majority of the vote, they are elected. If not, the top two candidates, of any party, would face off in an early December runoff. In recent years, this has helped Democrats win the Governorship, but federal contests are very different. While Louisiana once sent only Democrats to the Senate, it is now a thoroughly Republican state for federal elections and that seems unlikely to change.
First term incumbent Bill Cassidy is seeking reelection and will only see one other barely known Republican on the ballot. This means that the physician and former Democrat turned conservative Republican officeholder has a very good chance of hitting the 50 percent mark in November and being elected. He was elected in 2014 by finishing second in the jungle primary, and then winning by a wide margin over an incumbent Democrat in a runoff, which by then was basically a foregone conclusion. If somehow Cassidy finds himself in a runoff, he will be heavily favored but could face a solid opponent who would have a possibility of driving the turnout of some voters who might not otherwise participate in runoffs.
For months, it looked like no top tier Democrat would enter the race and that Cassidy could basically cruise to victory without breaking a sweat. With several little known Democrats saying they would run, the incumbent's top competition was thought likely to be Antoine Pierce, an African-American community activist from Baton Rogue, who had lost some lower level races. The DSCC seemed to be working behind the scenes to get another candidate in the field and Cassidy and Pierce alike probably wish they did not.

Just before the filing deadline, Adrian Perkins entered the race with the support the Senate campaign arm of Democrats. At just 34 years old, Perkins has a very impressive biography. The grandson of a sharecropper, Perkins grew up in Shreveport where he was involved in his High School's student council as well as three sport star. The 9/11 terrorist attacks during those years inspired him to join the Armed Forces and he received an appointment to West Point, where he was the first ever black class President. His Army service saw him deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan where he won the Bronze Star. Perkins also graduated with a law degree from Harvard and continued his penchant for student politics by being elected student government President there too.
Faced with plenty of professional opportunities, Perkins stayed in Shreveport and ran for Mayor, defeating the incumbent in a runoff. Clearly ambitious politically, Perkins has a biography that reads like a potential President, black or white, minus perhaps an election to statewide office. Nonetheless, the Mayor is a Louisianan and a Democrat, and those do not seem to mix very well, unless perhaps you are a Pro-Life culturally conservative throwback like current Governor John Bel Edwards who was lucky enough to win an initial election over a soured upon opponent who could not unite the Republican Party behind him.
There is no reason to believe that Cassidy has serious issues with the Louisiana electorate or that his support of Donald Trump will turn off a majority of the state. The incumbent also has a highly respected background as it relates to his volunteer medical work for the poor or after natural disasters. He probably will get somewhat above 50 percent in November, but if he does not, the national media will take serious note of the runoff needed. The conservative nature of Louisiana would have Cassidy a solid favorite in that as well.
In making this race, and while still being in his first term as Mayor, Perkins is perhaps looking to increase his name recognition. Clearly, he has higher political goals, but as long as he is pro-choice on an issue like abortion, any statewide win in Louisiana will be tough to come by, and right now, only the Congressional district in New Orleans, far from where he lives, is one that might elect a Democrat. Perhaps though, Mayor Perkins could find himself nominated for the Cabinet of a Democrat President and Senator Cassidy will get to vote on his confirmation.
 U.S. Senate races predicted thus far:

5 D (2 Safe, 2 Lean, 1 Tossup) 
9 R (2 Safe, 3 Likely, 3 Lean, 1 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

40 Democrats (35 holdovers, 2 Safe, 2 Lean, 1 Tossup)
39 Republicans (30 holdovers, 3 Safe, 3 Likely, 2 Lean, 1 Tossup)


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