Taglouisiana

Stories about Louisiana

Candy Christophe (D), Julia Letlow (R), and 10 other candidates running to represent Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District

Twelve candidates are running in a March 20 special primary election to represent Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District. The election was called to fill the vacancy left after Congressman-elect Luke Letlow (R) died in December 2020. 

The 12 candidates who filed for the seat include nine Republicans, two independents, and one Democrat. Heading into the election, Candy Christophe (D) and Julia Letlow (R) have led the field in media coverage.

Christophe has worked as a business owner and social worker. Cristophe, the only Democrat running, has an endorsement from the state Democratic Party. Her campaign platform includes addressing unemployment in the district, supporting small businesses and farmers, and investing in infrastructure.

Letlow’s professional experience includes working as a teacher and educational administrator. Her endorsers include the state Republican Party and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Letlow said she and her late husband Luke Letlow (R) shared a vision for the district that included investing in jobs and rural development, supporting agriculture, and supporting education.

Before 2021, Louisiana’s 5th was represented by Ralph Abraham (R), who won re-election outright in the 2018 primary with 67% of the vote to Jessee Carlton Fleenor’s (D) 30%. In the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump (R) defeated Joe Biden (D) 65% to 34% in the district.

Christophe was also a candidate in the 2020 primary election. That year, Luke Letlow and Lance Harris (R) advanced to the general election with 33.1% and 16.6% of the vote, respectively. Christophe placed third with 16.4% of the vote. Luke Letlow won the general election against Harris 62% to 38%.

Under the Louisiana majority-vote system, all candidates run in a single primary election. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two vote-getters advance to a general election. If necessary, the general election for this seat will take place on April 24.

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Supporters, opponents of Louisiana constitutional amendment on abortion raised over $1 million in 2020

Louisiana Pro-Life Amendment Coalition, the campaign in support of Louisiana Amendment 1, and Louisiana for Personal Freedoms, the opposition campaign, reported receiving a combined total of $1.1 million in contributions for the 2020 election cycle. 

Louisiana voters approved Amendment 1 in November 2020 by a vote of 62.06% to 37.94%. It added language to the Louisiana Constitution stating that “nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”

According to the latest campaign finance reports filed February 17, Louisiana Pro-Life Amendment Coalition reported $681,191 in contributions. The top donors to the coalition included:
• LA Right to Life Educational Committee – $280,000
• Edward L. Rispone – $50,000
• Donald T. Bollinger – $25,000
• Kenneth Wood Sr. – $25,000
• William Henry Shane Jr. – $20,000

Louisiana for Personal Freedoms reported $428,824 in cash and in-kind contributions. The top donors to the committee included:
• BYP 100 – $150,000
• Open Society – $100,00
• Lift Louisiana – $80,758.12
• Planned Parenthood Action Fund – $51,448
• Catholics for Choice – $5,000

As of 2021, at least 10 states, according to The Guttmacher Institute, provided a state constitutional right to abortion based on court rulings. Ballotpedia has identified six ballot measures to amend state constitutions to declare that nothing in the state constitution provides a right to abortion. In Tennessee (2014), Alabama (2018), West Virginia (2018), and Louisiana (2020), these constitutional amendments were passed. In Massachusetts (1986) and Florida (2012), these constitutional amendments were defeated.

Kansas voters will be deciding a similar measure in August 2022 to state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortion and that the state legislature has the authority to pass laws regarding abortion. The amendment was a response to the Kansas Supreme Court ruling in Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt (2019), in which the court decided that the Kansas Bill of Rights includes a right to abortion.

Louisiana Amendment 1 was referred to the ballot by the state legislature in June 2019. A two-thirds vote is needed in each chamber of the Louisiana State Legislature to refer a constitutional amendment.

Committees registered to support or oppose all 129 statewide measures on the ballot in 2020 reported a combined total of $1.23 billion in contributions.

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Three candidates file to run in Louisiana House District 82 special election

Candidates interested in running in the special election for the District 82 seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives had until January 27, 2021, to file. The primary is scheduled for March 20, and the general election, if needed, is set for April 24.

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 wins a majority of the vote, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election, regardless of their partisan affiliation.

Three candidates—Raymond Delaney Jr. (D), Edwin Connick (R), and Laurie Schlegel (R)—filed to run in the special election.

The special election became necessary after Charles Henry (R) resigned his seat on January 12. Henry was elected to the state House in 2019 with 70.5% of the vote.

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 66-35 margin with two independents and two vacancies. Democrat John Bel Edwards was elected governor of Louisiana in 2015.

As of January 2021, 25 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

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Four candidates file to run for two Louisiana appellate judgeships

A special primary election for two of the 53 seats on the Louisiana Circuit Courts of Appeal is scheduled for March 20, 2021. The filing deadline passed on January 22. Elections to the court are partisan, and a full term is 10 years. If needed, a general election is scheduled for April 24, 2021.

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. 

Three candidates filed to run in the Second Circuit Court of Appeal District 1 race. Democrats Marcus Hunter, Larry D. Jefferson, and J. Garland Smith qualified for the special primary.

In the Second Circuit Court of Appeal District 2 race, Republican Jeff Robinson was the only candidate to file. Because the number of candidates was equal to the number of seats up for election, both the primary and the general elections were canceled. Robinson was declared elected without his name appearing on the ballot.

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Filing deadline passes for special Louisiana congressional, state executive elections

Candidates interested in running in the special election for Louisiana’s 2nd and 5th Congressional Districts and District 4 of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) had until January 22, 2021, to file. The primary is scheduled for March 20, and the general election, if needed, is set for April 24.

The 2nd Congressional District special election was called after it was announced that Cedric Richmond (D) had been chosen as a senior adviser to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement for the then-incoming Joe Biden presidential administration. Richmond served from 2011 until he left office on January 15. Fifteen candidates filed for the seat, including eight Democrats, four Republicans, one Libertarian, and two independents.

The 5th Congressional District special election was called after newly elected officeholder Luke Letlow (R) died on December 29, 2020, from complications related to COVID-19. He was scheduled to assume office on January 3. Thirteen candidates filed for the seat, including two Democrats, nine Republicans, and two independents.

The BESE special election was called after Tony Davis (R) left office to devote more time to his job as a senior director at the National Association of Manufacturers on January 20. Davis served from 2016 to 2021. Six candidates filed for the seat, including two Democrats, two Republicans, and two independents.

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 percent of the vote. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election, regardless of their partisan affiliation.

Ballotpedia is also covering two Court of Appeals special elections and one state legislative special election in Louisiana on March 20. The state legislative special filing deadline is January 27.

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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.

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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.

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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:

https://ballotpedia.org/Louisiana_2020_ballot_measures