Sen. Cassidy and every Louisiana U.S. House incumbent win reelection; one runoff set for next month

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy has been reelected to a second term, easily winning outright in the first round against 14 challengers and avoiding a runoff.

Meanwhile, every Louisiana incumbent in the U.S. House of Representatives secured an early victory Tuesday night by cracking the 50 percent threshold needed to win in the first round, with one House race left to be decided in December.

As a Republican incumbent in a red state, Cassidy was heavily favored to win. The only question for his campaign in Tuesday’s nonpartisan open primary, in which every candidate competes on the same ballot regardless of party, was whether he would get more than 50 percent of the vote and avoid facing the second-place finisher next month.

With a handful of Democrats in the race, most of the Democratic donations and high-profile endorsements went to Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins. Gov. John Bel Edwards backed his candidacy, and former President Barack Obama recorded a message of support for Perkins.

Cassidy, a medical doctor, served in the Louisiana Legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives before knocking off former Sen. Mary Landrieu in 2014. He emphasized health care, support for President Donald Trump, and allegiance to Louisiana’s energy industry.

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, and was elected mayor in 2018 in his first run for office. He criticized Cassidy for the senator’s “crusade” to repeal the Affordable Care Act and voting to fill a Supreme Court vacancy only days before the election.

“I’m a problem solver,” Cassidy told his supporters once his first-round victory was assured. “I don’t go to Washington to have something listed in my obituary that he was a senator. I went to Washington to try to do something good for my state and for my country.”

The only drama in Louisiana’s congressional races was in northeast Louisiana’s 5th District, where Congressman Ralph Abraham’s decision not to run for reelection left the seat open. Luke Letlow, who was Abraham’s chief of staff for all three terms, emerged as the clear frontrunner.

Sandra “Candy” Christophe, a Democrat who is a social worker and addiction counselor, held an early lead for second place. But as the votes were counted, Republican state Rep. Lance Harris inched ahead, edging out Christophe for a spot in the December runoff by 456 votes in a race with almost 310,000 voters.

The runoff election will be held Dec. 5.

Republican Minority Whip Steve Scalise easily outpaced two challengers in his 1st District, which includes suburban New Orleans and part of southeast Louisiana’s bayou region. Democrat Cedric Richmond, who represents New Orleans proper and part of the Baton Rouge area, emerged victorious in a six-candidate field.

In southwest Louisiana’s 3rd District, Republican Clay Higgins ran away from three challengers to win reelection. In northwestern Louisiana’s 4th, Congressman Mike Johnson easily retained his seat over three challengers.

Congressman Garret Graves, a Baton Rouge Republican, cruised to a victory in a four-candidate field. His 6th District includes most of the Capital Region and part of southeast Louisiana’s bayou region.