Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Races for U.S. Senate and open seat in Congress draw crowds as qualifying wraps up in Louisiana

by BIZ Magazine

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – As candidate qualifying ended Friday, more than a dozen candidates had signed up to challenge U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy in November.

Cassidy, a Republican with President Donald Trump’s backing and $6 million in campaign cash, will be a heavy favorite to win re-election. Cassidy is a medical doctor from Baton Rouge who has served in the Louisiana Legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives. He knocked off Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in 2014.

Though Louisiana does not hold party primaries, Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins is the Democrats most likely standard-bearer in the U.S. Senate race. Perkins is a West Point and Harvard Law School graduate who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning the rank of captain and a Bronze Star, he says. He was elected mayor in 2018 in his first run for office.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy is not up for re-election this year.

The race for the state’s 5th Congressional District, Louisiana’s only open seat in Congress, also drew a crowd. U.S. Representative Ralph Abraham, a Republican, is not seeking re-election after three terms.

Luke Letlow, Abraham’s chief of staff for all three terms, and state Rep. Lance Harris, a Republican who has been in the Louisiana Legislature since 2012, are the most high-profile candidates in the race. A total of nine candidates qualified.

Every Louisiana incumbent in the U.S. House of Representatives drew at least two challengers.

Former state Rep. Kevin Pearson, a Slidell Republican, qualified Friday to try to unseat fellow Republican Eric Skrmetta of Metairie from the Louisiana Public Service Commission. Pearson had served in the state House of Representatives since 2008 but reached his term limit last year and was unable to run for re-election.

Skremetta has served on the PSC since 2009 and has the endorsement of the state GOP. John Schwegmann, a Democrat turned independent who was a commissioner for 15 years before losing re-election in 1996, also is seeking the seat.

Also competing in the PSC’s District 1, which includes suburban areas outside New Orleans, are Green Party member William Boartfield Jr. of Harvey. Republicans Richie Sanderson II of New Orleans and “Big John” Mason of Metairie, and Democrat Allen Borne Jr. of New Orleans.

Democrat Foster Campbell, who has been on the PSC since 2003, will try to fend off Republicans Shane Smiley of Monroe and Scotty Waggoner of West Monroe.

Voters also will look to fill two open seats on the Louisiana Supreme Court. Chief Justice Bernette Johnson, the state’s first Black chief justice, is retiring. Associate Justice Marcus Clark stepped down earlier this year.

Sandra Carbrina Jenkins and Piper Griffin of New Orleans and Terri Love from Gretna, all Democrats, are vying to succeed Johnson. Republicans Shannon Gremillion of Alexandria and Jay McCallum of Farmerville are running in Clark’s district.

In Louisiana elections, every candidate regardless of party runs on the same ballot in the first round. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two advance to a runoff.

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