All seven of Louisiana’s statewide elected positions are on Saturday’s ballot, with wide open competitions for governor and lieutenant governor because the incumbents aren’t running for re-election. Runoffs, as needed, will be Nov. 21.
Nine candidates are running for governor, though only four have mounted large-scale campaigns with multimillion-dollar fundraising and advertising. The major contenders are: Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards and Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter.
More than $13.5 million has been spent by the candidates alone. Outside groups have poured in millions more, the first time super PACs have played much of a role in the race.
Gov. Bobby Jindal is term-limited after eight years in office.
Four men are vying for the job that Dardenne is leaving to run for governor: Republican John Young, president of Jefferson Parish; Republican Billy Nungesser, former president of Plaquemines Parish; Democrat Kip Holden, mayor of Baton Rouge; and Republican state Sen. Elbert Guillory of Opelousas.
The lieutenant governor leads Louisiana’s Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and serves as the figurehead for the state’s $11 billion tourism industry. Nungesser and Young have done most of the campaign spending, in an advertising battle that has become attack-heavy in its final days.
Republican incumbent Attorney General Buddy Caldwell is fighting to hang onto his seat amid strong competition from former Congressman Jeff Landry, who has received the endorsement of the state Republican Party. Also in the race are Port Allen lawyer Marty Maley, a Republican, and Democrats Geri Broussard Baloney of Garyville and Ike Jackson of Plaquemine. Baloney received the backing of the state Democratic Party.
OTHER STATEWIDE RACES
Louisiana’s four other GOP statewide incumbents are running for re-election: Secretary of State Tom Schedler, Treasurer John Kennedy, Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon and Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain. Each has drawn challengers, though few are well-funded.
The secretary of state is Louisiana’s chief elections official. Schedler faces a Democratic challenger, Baton Rouge law professor Chris Tyson. Kennedy also has one opponent, Republican lawyer Jennifer Treadway.
The incumbent agriculture and insurance commissioners attracted three opponents each.
Donelon faces opposition from Donald Hodge Jr., a Democrat and lawyer from Baton Rouge who ran unsuccessfully against Donelon four years ago; Charlotte McDaniel McGehee, a Democrat and lawyer from Prairieville; and Matt Parker, a Republican from Calhoun who owns a car repair business.
Strain is challenged by Charlie Greer, a Democrat and retired agriculture department employee from Natchitoches; Adrian “Ace” Juttner, a Green Party candidate from Abita Springs; and Jamie LaBranche, a Republican from LaPlace who ran unsuccessfully against Strain four years ago as a Democrat.
STATE EDUCATION BOARD
Voters will choose the eight elected members of the 11-member Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the state’s top school board. It sets policy for more than 700,000 public school students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Five incumbents are running for re-election. The makeup of the board will help decide whether Superintendent of Education John White keeps his job for the new term and how much Louisiana reworks its use of the Common Core education standards.
There are four proposals to change the Louisiana Constitution.
Amendment 1 would steer some oil and gas money that would otherwise flow into Louisiana’s “rainy day” fund, known as the Budget Stabilization Fund, into a transportation account to spend on road and bridge work. The trust fund would break into two parts: one that continues to work as a rainy day fund and the other that allows spending on transportation projects. Currently, the cap on the fund is about $800 million. This would boost that cap to $1 billion, split evenly between the two subaccounts.
Amendment 2 would pour more money into transportation projects, allowing the state treasurer to invest public dollars into an “infrastructure bank” that works as a revolving loan program for local governments to borrow money for the projects at low interest rates.
Amendment 3 would widen the definition of what can be considered in fiscal legislative sessions held every two years to deal with mainly budget and tax issues.
Amendment 4 would require that state or local governments from outside Louisiana pay taxes on property they own in the state.
Read The Independent’s guide to the constitutional amendments here.