Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Abortion amendment, Abraham’s successor on Louisiana ballot

by Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The balance of power in Louisiana’s U.S. House delegation — five Republicans and one Democrat — is unlikely to change in Tuesday’s election, but there is a question as to who will represent a heavily Republican district where the incumbent is not seeking re-election.

Five incumbents are running and all are considered likely to keep their posts. But Republican Ralph Abraham is stepping down from his northeast Louisiana-based district. Nine people are running to fill the open seat in the reliably Republican district.

Also on the ballot, along with the races for president and U.S. Senate, are seven proposed changes to the Louisiana Constitution, including one to make sure nothing in the document is construed as granting women the right to abortion.

5th Congressional District

Incumbent Republican Ralph Abraham, an unsuccessful candidate for governor last year, is keeping a self-imposed term-limits vow, bowing out of the House after three terms as the representative from a sprawling northeast Louisiana-based district.

He has endorsed his chief of staff, Luke Letlow, as his replacement and Letlow has garnered support from others in the Republican House delegation. The question is whether he can win outright against eight opponents — three other Republicans and four Democrats on Tuesday. If nobody gets more than 50% of the vote in the nonpartisan election, the top two finishers go on to a December runoff.

Federal Election Commission reports showed Letlow with a strong funding advantage over his competitors, including Republicans Randall Scott Harrison, a member of the Ouachita Parish Police Jury; and state Rep. John Lance Harris. Democrats in the race include social worker Sandra Christophe and Martin Lemelle Jr., chief operating officer at Grambling State University.

3rd Congressional District

Two-term incumbent Republican Clay Higgins rose to acclaim in his southwest Louisiana district as a local sheriff’s department captain who made bombastic anti-crime videos.

Since his election, he has courted controversy, most recently with a social media post promising the use of force against armed protesters that was removed by Facebook for violating the company’s violence and incitement policies.

He remains a favorite to win a third term. Democrat Rob Anderson, who placed a distant second with 5% of the vote in the district two years ago, is among Higgins’ three challengers this year.

1st Congressional District

Incumbent Steve Scalise, the House Minority Whip, is the heavy favorite. His two little-known challengers in the reliably Republican district are a Democrat and Libertarian.

Scalise was first elected to the House in 2008 after years in the Louisiana Legislature.

2nd Congressional District

Incumbent Cedric Richmond, the only Democrat and the only Black member of the state congressional delegation, faces five little-known challengers. He has served in the House since 2011.

Before he won his congressional seat, Richmond was a state representative from New Orleans. He is a co-chair of Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.

4th Congressional District

Mike Johnson, an attorney who was part of the team of House Republicans who defended President Donald Trump when Trump was impeached, is running for a third term.

Johnson also serves as chairman of the Republican Study Committee, which touts itself as the largest caucus of conservatives in Congress.

He faces three little-known challengers: Republican Ben Gibson and Democrats Kenny Houston and Ryan Trundle.

6th Congressional District

Republican Garret Graves was first was elected to represent his Baton Rouge-based south Louisiana district in 2014, spoiling a comeback attempt by four-term former Gov. Edwin Edwards, a Democrat.

Easily reelected in subsequent years, he is expected to win a fourth term Tuesday. There are three challengers: Libertarian Shannon Sloan, independent Richard Torregano and Democrat Dartanyon Williams.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment 1

The first on the ballot of seven proposed amendments to Louisiana’s constitution is one to explicitly state that “a right to abortion and the funding of abortion shall not be found in the Louisiana Constitution.”

Analysts say passage would have little immediate effect. However, were the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision on abortion rights, the amendment would ensure against any court ruling that language in the Louisiana Constitution grants abortion rights.

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