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.