Lousiana House 2007: LCRM Gloats; I Assiduously Take Notes

Crossposted at Daily Kingfish

If you have a spare moment in your busy schedule, I recommend you visit the webiste of the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority, a PAC US Senator David Vitter bankrolls with Washington, DC, money. All the usual suspects are there: Paul Dickson, Wendy Vitter, Boysie Bollinger, David Vitter, TA Barfield, Joseph Canizaro, Michael Polito, Fox News and The Weekly Standard.  And there they are rehashing and revising all the 1994 rhetoric, failing to recall that today is the year 2007.  “Revolution,” “Republican re-alignment [sic],” “Republican domination,” “a Democrat [sic] Party in crisis,” “trial lawyers,” “smaller government,” “business friendly,” “an end to political corruption:”  all the tropes are there for the taking, and Vitter and company are falling on top of one another as they grasp for whatever straws they can find in their twisted fantasy space.  It is quite sick, really, especially when one wonders why they are so obsessed with hegemony.  For the goal is to present “the next Republican Governor” with a “Republican controlled House.”  Dissent and debate will not be brooked in their warped vision for Louisiana. 

Despite all the crowing about the impending “revolution,” LCRM has already conceded the state Senate to the Democrats.  Their eyes are focused on the state House, and they outline the following four step plan for their planned takeover of that chamber in their introductory video: maintain the 25 seats presently held by Republicans; hold all 15 open Republican seats; “switch” or defeat 7 Democratic incumbents in districts “friendly to Vitter and Bush;” win 20 of the open Democratic seats that “lean Republican.”

Here is a table enumerating the state House seats they plan to target with open Republican seats in pink, Republican seats in red, open Democratic seats in purple and Democratic seats in blue:

HD01 James Morris Caddo and Bossier Parishes
HD07 Beverly Bruce Caddo and DeSoto Parishes
HD09 Billy Wayne Montgomery Bossier Parish
HD10 Jean M. Doerge Webster Parish
HD13 Jim Fannin Bienville, Jackson, Ouachita and Winn Parishes
HD14 Charlie Mac McDonald East Carroll, Morehouse, Ouachita and West Carroll Parishes
HD19 Francis T. Thompson East Carroll, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland and West Carroll Parishes
HD20 Lelon Kenney Caldwell, Catahoula, Franklin and Tensas Parishes
HD24 Joe Salter DeSoto, Red River, Sabine and Vernon Parishes
HD25 Charlie DeWitt Rapides and Vernon Parishes
HD27 Rick Farrar Rapides Parish
HD30 John Smith Beauregard and Vernon Parishes
HD32 Herman Ray Hill Allen, Beauregard and Vernon Parishes
HD39 Clara Guilbeau Baudoin Lafayette, St. Landry and St. Martin Parishes
HD41 Mickey Guillory Acadia, Evangeline and St. Landry Parishes
HD42 Gil Pinac Acadia and Lafayette Parishes
HD46 Sydnie Mae Durand St. Martin Parish
HD47 Mickey Frith Cameron and Vermilion Parishes
HD48 Romo Romero Iberia Parish
HD49 Troy Hebert Iberia and Vermilion Parishes
HD50 Jack Smith Iberia, St. Martin and St. Mary Parishes
HD53 Damon Baldone Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes
HD55 Warren Triche Lafourche Parish
HD56 Gary Smith St. Charles and St. John the Baptist Parishes
HD75 Harold Ritchie St. Tammany and Washington Parishes
HD84 NJ Damico Jefferson Parish
HD103 Kenneth Odinet Orleans and St. Bernard Parishes

Some of this is not very surprising, but I do not understand how Republicans believe an incumbent such as Damon Baldone, who secured a large portion of the Terrebonne Parish vote during the 2004 jungle primary for LA-03 and thereby enabled Charlie Melancon to edge past state Sen. Craign Romero into the runoff, would either switch parties or lose an election in his home turf.  I also wonder how they plan to smear Mickey Guillory, a former police officer, and Jean Doerge, a former educator.  And do they seriously believe River Parish voters will oust Gary Smith?

Their focus on Acadiana is the result of the popularity of John Breaux and Chris John in this region.  The Acadiana vote has always been one Republicans have had a difficult time securing, and they believe this is the year they can turn south Louisiana red.  While the fields for the jungle primaries for these races are yet to be formed, we do have promising Democratic candidates running for some of these open Democratic seats.  One worth watching and supporting is Simone Champagne, who retired from her position as Chief Administrator for Iberia Parish Government in order to run for Troy Hebert’s House seat.  If we can recruit organized and qualified candidates such as Champagne in every open Acadiana seat, we will derail LCRM’s plan to control the state House in the name of “Republican domination.”

What are your reactions to LCRM’s strategy?  And how do you interpret their rhetoric?  Is David Vitter obsessed with Chris John?  Do you see their strategy as viable?  Or do you view it as so much posturing and so much bilge?  Whether or not we agree with it, we at least know where the lines have been drawn, and we should prepare to fight them on each and every front. 

And we should also surprise them with attacks in districts they assume are safely Republican.  HD54, HD104, HD105 are three seats presently held by Republicans that are far from safe.  Two other seats that comes to mind unbidden are HD94 and HD95.  And according to one Louisiana political pundit, HD31 may become a very interesting race.

Election Returns Tonight: LA-HD1, LA-HD4, LA-HD40

Special open primaries for the remainder of the terms to end in November for LA-HD1, LA-HD4 and LA-HD40 have been held today.  Polls close at 8pm CST in Louisiana, and returns should be available immediately thereafter.

Here is how the ballot appears for all three races:

State Representative, 1st Representative District
0 of 31 precincts reporting
Click here for Results by Parish
0  0% Michael Page Boyter, R –
0  0% Richard “Richie” Hollier, D –
0  0% Ruth W. Johnston, D –
0  0% “Jim” Morris, R –
0  0% Marc Weddleton, R –

State Representative, 4th Representative District
0 of 26 precincts reporting
Click here for Results by Parish
0  0% Larry Ferdinand, D –
0  0% Reginald Johnson, D –
0  0% Calvin “Ben” Lester, Jr., D –
0  0% Patrick C. Williams, D –

State Representative, 40th Representative District
0 of 43 precincts reporting
Click here for Results by Parish
0  0% “Jim” Darby, D –
0  0% “Chris” Declouette, D –
0  0% Elbert Lee Guillory, D –
0  0% “Bradford” Jackson, N –
0  0% Roderick “Rod” James, D –
0  0% Ledricka Johnson, D –

LA-HD4 and LA-HD40 are seats guaranteed for Louisiana Democrats.  LA-HD4 is centered around Shreveport, and it extends into some of the more rural portions of Caddo Parish.  A district with an African-American majority, LA-HD4 was previously held by Cedric Glover, who is now the first African-American Mayor of Shreveport.  Larry Ferdinand and Patrick Williams, who received the endorsement of the Shreveport Times, the major local newspaper, are considered the favorites in this race, and I imagine they will face each other in a runoff.  Whoever wins LA-HD4 will hold this seat in November, as Democrats outnumber Republicans in this district by very high numbers.

LA-HD40 is also guaranteed for the Democrats.  This seat, centered around Opelousas in St. Landry Parish, was previously held by Don Cravins, Jr., who ran for and won the Louisiana Senate seat vacated by his father, Don Cravins, Sr., who is now Mayor of Opelousas.  This district is both an African-American and Democratic majority district, and whoever wins it will most probably hold it in November.  The Daily World, the major local newspaper, chose not to endorse any of the six candidates.  Turnout for this election is approximately 16%, and reporters are anticipating a runoff between two of the six candidates.

LA-HD1, however, is not guaranteed for the Democrats.  Although it was previously held by a Democrat named Roy “Hoppy” Hopkins, who recently died of cancer, this open seat can be won by either party.  Indeed, the district has a tendency to vote for Republicans in federal races: John Kerry only received 32.28% of the vote in 2004; Kathleen Blanco received 44.15% of the vote in 2003; and Mary Landrieu received approximately 45.34% of the vote in 2002.  A populist Democrat who understand agricultural and infrastructural issues can win in this district that includes rural Caddo and Bossier Parishes, but it will be a difficult seat for Democrats to hold in November. 

Richie Hollier, a Democrat who is running for office for the first time, has a strong grasp of the issues facing this district, and he has traveled throughout the district in order to hear its constituents’ needs.  Ruth Johnston, an Oil City resident who has served as Justice for the Peace, an elected office, for 18 years, is a former restaurant owner who desires to make government and the legislative process more accessible to the residents of the first district.  Both of these Democrats will face stiff competition from “Jim” Morris, a Caddo Parish Commissioner, who has received key endorsements from other Republicans in the district as well as the endorsement of the Shreveport Times, the major local newspaper.  Morris believes problems with Louisiana’s public school system will be solved with the introduction of prayer into the classroom, which leads me to wonder how an editorial board can endorse his candidacy in the open primary.  The other Republicans are not considered viable: Marc Weddleton just moved to the area two years ago, and Boyter is a regular gadfly whose platform is marijuana rights.

Turnout for LA-HD1 has been very low: only 100 ballots were cast during the early voting period in all of Caddo Parish, which also includes the race for the open seat of LA-HD4.  Moreover, Caddo and neighboring DeSoto Parish have been under a tornado watch all afternoon.  And while one would believe this would depress turnout, some claim it may increase it in some areas.  But turnout overall has varied from 2% to 16%.

LA-HD1 is what I consider to be a bellwether race.  If we hold it, we will hold the Louisiana House in November.  If we lose it, then we need to prepare ourselves for the fight of our political lives in November.  Watch the returns of this race, as this race will determine how hard Louisiana Democrats will have to fight if they want to hold on to their majorities in the state legislature.  And if we lose LA-HD1, then capturing LA-HD94, the special election for which will be held on 10 March, will be mandatory.  That can be done by supporting Deborah Langhoff.

The returns should be available at 8:30pm CST.