Stories about Louisiana

Brett Geymann elected to Louisiana state House after special election is canceled

Candidates interested in running in a special election for the District 35 seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives had until January 8, 2021, to file. Republican Brett Geymann was the only candidate to file by the deadline. Since only one candidate filed for the race, the February 6 primary and the March 20 general election were canceled. Geymann was deemed elected to the seat without appearing on the ballot.

Geymann previously served in the Louisiana state House from 2004 to 2016. He was term-limited from seeking re-election in 2015.

The seat became vacant after the resignation of Stephen Dwight (R) on December 1, 2020. He resigned to become the district attorney of Calcasieu Parish. He had represented the district since 2016.

Louisiana has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a 27-12 margin and the state House by a 67-35 margin with two independents and one vacancy. Democrat John Bel Edwards was elected governor of Louisiana in 2015.

As of January 2021, 16 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 11 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Additional reading:

Jason Williams defeats Keva Landrum in Orleans Parish District Attorney race

Jason Williams (D) defeated Keva Landrum (D) in the December 5, 2020, general election for the Orleans Parish, Louisiana, District Attorney. Williams received 57.8% of the vote, while Landrum received 42.2%.

Williams is an at-large member of the New Orleans City Council, a seat he won in 2014. Landrum served as a judge at the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court until July, 2020, when she resigned to enter the District Attorney race.

Williams and Landrum advanced from the first-round of voting on November 3 after neither received more than 50% of the vote to win, as required under Louisiana’s majority-vote system. Landrum received 34.8%, while Williams received 29.4%.

Incumbent Leon Cannizzaro (D), who was first elected in 2008, declined to seek re-election, leaving the seat open for the first time in 12 years.

Additional reading:

Louisiana voters reject amendment to allow out-of-state members on university boards

Voters in Louisiana rejected Amendment 1 in the state’s general election held on Dec. 5, 76.5% to 23.5%. The amendment would have allowed the governor to appoint at-large members to the boards of supervisors for the public university systems from out-of-state if there are multiple at-large seats and at least one at-large seat is filled by a member residing within the state. The amendment would have applied to the boards of supervisors for the University of Louisiana System, the Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, the Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.

The amendment was approved unanimously in both chambers of the legislature in October 2020. This amendment on the Dec. 5 ballot was the first post-November statewide measure in Louisiana since at least 1974.

State Sen. Cleo Fields (D), who sponsored the amendment in the legislature, said, “Leaders throughout the country have ties to our public universities. In fact, many alumni have skyrocketed to success in other states but are not permitted to give back in the form of board service. A yes on Amendment 1 welcomes new perspectives, expertise, and connections to Louisiana universities. … A yes on Amendment 1 maintains current boards and will only be used if appropriate at the expiration of an existing at-large member’s term.”

The Louisiana Republican Party argued that the amendment could result in positions on boards going “to rich outsiders who would do political favors to obtain such appointments from governors.” The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana (PAR), a nonprofit organization, published arguments for and against the amendment. PAR wrote the following argument in opposition to Amendment 1: “There is no requirement that the out-of-state members be graduates of the institutions they will govern. A broader reform might have moved the details of the composition of these boards out of the Constitution and into statute where they can be adjusted as necessary by the Legislature.”

Louisiana voters decided seven constitutional amendments on Nov. 3, approving five and rejecting two. Louisiana voters decided 189 constitutional amendments from 1995 through 2019. Of those, 121 were on even-year ballots amounting to an average of 10 measures per even-numbered year. Voters approved 75 percent (141 of 189) and rejected 25 percent (48 of 189) of the constitutional amendments since 1995.

Additional reading:


Luke Letlow wins Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District race

Luke Letlow (R) defeated Lance Harris (R) in the general election for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District on Dec. 5. With all precincts reporting, Letlow received 62% of the unofficial election night vote.

A second round of voting was required since none of the nine candidates received a majority of the votes in the Nov. 3 primary; Letlow and Harris were the top two finishers—receiving 33.1% and 16.6% of the vote, respectively. Incumbent Ralph Abraham (R), who was first elected in 2014, did not seek re-election. A Republican has represented the district since 2004. Letlow will assume office on January 3, 2021.

A total of 470 seats in the U.S. Congress (35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats) were up for election on November 3, 2020, including two special elections for U.S. Senate.

Additional reading:


Ralph Abraham – Ballotpedia

Louisiana legislature certifies constitutional amendment for December 5 ballot

On October 21, 2020, the Louisiana Legislature referred a constitutional amendment to the December 5 ballot during its second special legislative session. Senate Bill 44 (SB 44) would allow the governor to appoint at-large members to the boards of supervisors of state university systems from outside of the state if there are multiple at-large seats and at least one at-large seat is filled by a member from the state. The boards would each still consist of 15 members appointed by the governor and approved by the state Senate. Currently, the Louisiana Constitution requires all members to be from the state.

In Louisiana, a two-thirds vote is needed in each chamber of the Louisiana Legislature to refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot for voter consideration.

SB 44 was introduced on September 30, 2020. The state Senate and House approved the bill unanimously.

SB 44 is the only 2020 ballot measure certified for a post-November 3 statewide election. Louisiana voters will decide seven constitutional amendments on November 3 that concern abortion, taxes, natural resources, and state finances. In addition to statewide constitutional amendments, measures legalizing sports betting on a parish-by-parish basis are on the ballot in each of Louisiana’s 64 parishes on November 3. 

Louisiana is holding a general runoff election on December 5. Louisiana’s electoral system for local, state, and federal offices differs from those employed in the other 49 states. In Louisiana, all candidates running for a local, state, or federal office appear on the same ballot in either October (in odd-numbered years) or November (in even-numbered years), regardless of their partisan affiliations. If a candidate wins a simple majority of all votes cast for the office (i.e., 50 percent, plus one vote), he or she wins the election outright. If no candidate meets that threshold, the top two finishers, regardless of their partisan affiliations, advance to the election in December. In that election, the candidate who receives the greatest number of votes wins.

Between 1995 and 2019, Louisiana voters decided 189 constitutional amendments, averaging 10 measures per even-numbered year election. Voters approved 75 percent (141 of 189) and rejected 25 percent (48 of 189) of the constitutional amendments.

Additional reading:

Louisiana 2020 ballot measures

Judicial nominee confirmed to federal district court

On July 28, 2020, the U.S. Senate confirmed David Joseph to a federal judgeship on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana by a 55-42 vote. Joseph will join the court upon receiving his judicial commission and taking his judicial oath.

Joseph was nominated to the seat by President Donald Trump (R) on December 2, 2019, to replace Judge Dee Drell, who assumed senior status on November 30, 2017. The nomination was returned to the president at the sine die adjournment of the U.S. Senate on January 3, 2020. The president officially renominated Joseph on January 6. Joseph’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee was held on January 8, 2020, and the committee voted to advance Joseph’s nomination to the full Senate on May 14, by a 12-10 vote.

After Joseph receives commission, the Western District of Louisiana will have:
• No vacancies
• Six Republican-appointed judges

• One Democrat-appointed judge

In addition to Joseph, President Trump has appointed four judges to the court. President George W. Bush (R) appointed one judge to the court, and President Barack Obama (D) appointed one judge to the court.

Since taking office, President Trump has nominated 262 individuals to federal judgeships, 202 of whom have been confirmed. As of July 30, 2020, there were 79 vacancies in the federal judiciary, 49 pending nominations, and three future federal judicial vacancies.

Additional reading:

Candidate filing deadline to run for congressional office passes in Louisiana

On July 24, 2020, the major-party filing deadline to run for elected office in Louisiana passed. The candidate filing period ran from July 22 to July 24; the Louisiana State Legislature moved the filing period from earlier in the month in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Prospective candidates filed for the following congressional offices:

U.S. Senate

Louisiana’s Class II Senate seat is up for election. Incumbent Sen. Bill Cassidy (R) filed for re-election to the seat. He was first elected in 2014.

U.S. House of Representatives
All six of Louisiana’s U.S. House seats are up for election. Republicans currently hold five of those seats and a Democrat holds the other. Five of the six incumbents filed for re-election:
  • District 1: Steve Scalise (R)
  • District 2: Cedric Richmond (D)
  • District 3: Clay Higgins (R)
  • District 4: Mike Johnson (R)
  • District 6: Garret Graves (R)

District 5 Rep. Ralph Abraham (R) is the one congressional incumbent not seeking re-election to his seat. He announced on February 26, 2020, that he would be retiring after his current term, in keeping with his decision upon his election in 2014 to serve only three terms.

Louisiana elections use the majority-vote system. All candidates compete in the same primary, and a candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate does, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election, regardless of their partisan affiliation. The primary is scheduled for November 3, and the general election is scheduled for December 5, 2020.

Louisiana’s statewide filing deadline is the 50th and final major-party deadline to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The previous statewide filing deadline was on July 14 in Delaware.

Additional reading:

Filing deadline passes to run for school boards in Louisiana

The filing deadline to run for the Orleans Parish and Caddo Parish school boards is on July 24, 2020. In Orleans Parish, all seven seats on the board are up for election. Meanwhile, Caddo Parish is holding a special election for the District 8 seat, which became vacant when Denee Locke (R) moved out of the district.
In Orleans Parish, the primary is scheduled for November 3, 2020, and the general election is scheduled for December 5. In Caddo Parish, the special general election is scheduled for November 3.
These two districts served a total of 55,257 students during the 2016-2017 school year.
In 2020, Louisiana is also holding elections for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Public Service Commissioner, state Supreme Court, and Circuit Courts of Appeal. The statewide filing deadline is also on July 24.

Louisiana state executive and judicial filing deadline ends July 24

On July 24, 2020, the filing deadline passed to run for state executive and judicial offices in Louisiana. Candidates filed for the following offices:

  • Louisiana Public Service Commission (two seats)
  • Louisiana Supreme Court (two seats)
  • Louisiana Circuit Courts of Appeal (13 seats)

The primary is scheduled for November 3, and the general election will be held on December 5. Louisiana is under a divided government and does not have a state government trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.

Additional reading: