GOP positioned for small gains in Legislature

by Jeremy Alford, LaPolitics

While not by much more compared to the current term, Republicans will continue to have a majority in the Legislature.

The real question is whether they can advance their lead in the upcoming runoff elections.

After the recent primary contests, 60 out of the 105 House members are Republicans thanks to two pickups. The GOP replaced Rep. Stephen Ortego, D-Carencro, from House District 39 with Julie Emerson and removed term-limited Rep. Mickey Guillory, D-Eunice, in House District 41 to make room for Phillip DeVillier.

In the upper chamber there are currently 24 Republican senators out of 39 after Democrats nabbed one seat when Rep. Ledricka Johnson Thierry of Opelousas was taken out by Gerald Boudreaux in Senate District 24. Boudreaux will take over for Sen. Elbert Guillory, R-Opelousas.

Republicans could take their old number back in the Senate if they can get Beth Mizell elected over Democrat Mickey Murphy in Senate District 12, which is being vacated by term-limited Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa.

The only other possible flip is Senate District 38, which leans slightly GOP with a majority-Democrat registration. The race pits Rep. Richie Burford, R-Stonewall, against Democrat John Milkovich. The seat is open with term-limited Sen. Sherri Smith Buffington, R-Shreveport, moving on. Milkovich is benefitting from trial attorney cash and ground support from Evangelical boosters. He is a social conservative and has some pastors in his corner.

In the House, Republicans could end up scoring a +3 if the hotly contested House District 32 goes their way, with Biscuit Smith challenging Rep. Dorothy Sue Hill, D-Dry Creek. Like the Mizell race, there’s a lot riding on Smith’s campaign for the GOP establishment. A source said third place finisher Zollie “Ty” Pearce, a Democrat, may be endorsing Smith soon. Hill captured Allen Parish in a major way, but the sheriff’s race is complete there and another hotly contested runoff for sheriff is still on for Smith’s turf of Beauregard, where he ran strong along with Calcasieu.

Democrats think they can create an upset with House District 103 as the trial lawyer money stacks up against Rep. Ray Garofalo, R-Meraux, and props up newly minted Democrat Casey Hunnicutt. Still, the Republican vote totaled 58 percent in this district.