LA-SD20: Dems Hold Tough Open Seat

UPDATE: It’s over. Democrat NorbĂ©rt “Norby” Chabert wins by almost a nine-point spread. Nice work.

Polls will close in a few minutes for a pair of special elections in Louisiana. One, a House special, is a D-on-D affair, but there’s also a state Senate special election that’s a bit more interesting: the former occupant of the seat was a Democrat who resigned to serve as Terrebonne Parish’s levee director earlier this summer, and it’s also one of the state Senate districts whose lines overlap with Charlie Melancon’s 3rd Congressional District.

More, from Josh Goodman:

Only in Louisiana does a state legislator resign to become his parish’s levee director. State Senator Reggie Dupre, a Democrat, left earlier this summer to serve as Terrebonne Parish’s levee director, setting up a special election in Louisiana’s 20th District tomorrow.

This should be a tight race. In the first round of voting, Republican Brent Callais took 38%, while Democrat Norby Chabert took 33%. The third candidate in the primary, Damon Baldone, was also a Democrat, but it’s not clear that his votes will go to Chabert. Baldone hasn’t endorsed either of his two former foes. A Callais win would chip into the 23-16 Democratic advantage in the Louisiana Senate.

So far as I can tell, this area of coastal Louisiana is ancestrally Democratic, but very conservative. The district covers parts of Terrebonne Parish and Lafourche Parish. I don’t know about the specific areas of the parishes that are in the 20th District, but overall both Terrebonne and Lafourche gave John McCain about 70% of the vote. In contrast, Mary Landrieu’s U.S. Senate race was very tight in both parishes.

While downballot special elections are often unpredictable affairs that serve as unreliable tea leaves for future elections, this one will be of some interest to those looking to gauge the health of the Dem brand in Cajun country.