Election season enters round two

by Jeremy Alford, LaPolitics

The big challenge in the U.S. Senate runoff for Treasurer John Kennedy and Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell will be grabbing the attention of the same voters who were already less than enthusiastic about this race during the primary.

For Campbell, however, there are other obstacles. Last Tuesday’s election saw 578,000 votes cast for Campbell and Caroline Fayard, the leading Democrats.

Kennedy’s own vote share alone was 482,000 votes. When combined with the three leading Republican candidates, including Congressmen Charles Boustany and John Fleming, that GOP share jumps up to 984,000 votes.

The Campbell campaign will have to find a way to overcome that numerical hurdle and expand upon its core Democratic vote.

When and where the two men might debate is another question. They will have at least three choices for televised forums, with WDSU-TV in New Orleans hosting a debate on Nov. 29, Louisiana Public Broadcasting sponsoring its statewide forum on Dec. 1 and WVLA-TV in Baton Rouge hoping to put on its own show on Dec. 2.

National Republicans are eager to seal the deal in Louisiana and regional offices are already being set up to make the final push for Kennedy.

There will be 10 satellite GOP offices statewide for the race, which should also benefit the two Republican runoff candidates who are in congressional races in the Acadiana and Shreveport regions.

Campbell’s most important ally in the primary was undoubtedly Gov. John Bel Edwards, who is receiving a lot of the credit for Campbell reaching the second round. Edwards also played a key role in Campbell’s fundraising operation.

It’ll be interesting to see just how much more political capital Edwards will be willing to expend on Campbell’s behalf with oddsmakers heavily favoring Kennedy. A campaign spokesperson said late last week that the governor is continuing to help and is replying to all requests.

Edwards, overall, has endorsed three candidates during this election cycle and so far only one has been handed a defeat.

Mary Werner, the daughter of one-time Democratic Party chair Buddy Leach, lost her bid for the Public Service Commission despite Edwards’ support and a last-minute cash infusion from her family. Former GOP chair Mike Francis beat her and another opponent with 54 percent of the vote, avoiding the need for a runoff.

The governor has likewise endorsed fellow Democrat Marshall Jones in the 4th Congressional District, where state Rep. Mike Johnson benefitted from independent expenditures made by D.C.-based conservative organizations.

With the field now cleared, the Republican infrastructure is getting fully behind Johnson as Jones has to run a campaign in earnest after getting a pass as the lone Democrat in the primary.