Early voting underway in Louisiana’s October 12 gubernatorial primary
Three states—Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi—are holding gubernatorial elections in 2019. Nominees were selected in partisan primaries in Kentucky in May and in Mississippi in August.
Louisiana uses what’s known as a blanket primary, where all candidates appear on the ballot—regardless of party. A candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50 percent of the vote in the October 12 primary. Otherwise, a general election for the top two finishers will be held November 16. Of the five gubernatorial elections between 1999 and 2015, three were won outright in the primary and two—in 2003 and 2015—were decided in the general election.
Media reports have identified incumbent John Bel Edwards (D), U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham (R), and businessman Eddie Rispone (R) as the leading candidates. Two polls from late September have shown Edwards with about 46% support and Abraham and Rispone tied for second place within the margin of error.
Edwards says that Louisiana went from having a budget deficit to a budget surplus during his tenure and that he increased funding for education and expanded Medicaid in the state. Abraham and Rispone say that Louisiana’s economy ranks last in the nation. Both say they would increase jobs and lower taxes. Abraham has campaigned on his record in the U.S. House and Rispone has highlighted his background as a businessman.
Political action committees affiliated with both the Democratic Governors Association and Republican Governors Association had each spent $2.2 million on the race as of September 2. The campaign finance figures for all three leading candidates through the date are shown below:
Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South and the only Democrat holding statewide office in Louisiana. Early voting began September 28 and ends October 5.
The gubernatorial election coincides with elections for the state Senate and state House, meaning that all three trifecta components will be on the ballot. Neither party will be able to form a trifecta without winning the gubernatorial election. The current makeup of the Louisiana state Senate is 25 Republicans and 14 Democrats, and in the state House is 60 Republicans, 39 Democrats, and 4 independents with one vacancy. Democrats would need to retain the gubernatorial seat and win majorities in both chambers of the state legislature while Republicans would need to maintain their legislative majorities and pick up the governor’s mansion.