Capt. Clay’s voting aversion If voting is a form of patriotic duty, Clay Higgins is frequently AWOL.

by Mike Stagg

Glen Clay Higgins’ fate as a candidate for the Louisiana’s Third District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives rests in the hands of the voters in that district, but not with him. Higgins does not live in the district, nor has he at any time since it was redrawn when Louisiana lost its Seventh District seat after the 2010 census and reapportionment.

In fact, records show that the St. Landry Parish resident who is now asking voters to support him for Congress often doesn’t even bother to show up at the polls on the Election Day.

Higgins is a voter in the Fifth Congressional District that extends from Monroe down into St. Landry Parish and across to Bogalusa in Washington Parish.

He is not required by law to live in the district in which he runs. In a telephone interview with The IND, Higgins says he has no intention of moving into the Third District if he beats Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle in the Dec. 10 runoff election.

“I believe an injustice was done St. Landry Parish in the reapportionment in 2011,” Higgins says. “St. Landry is part of Acadiana and has always been so. For this parish to have been carved into three districts, with the two biggest parts divided between districts dominated by Shreveport [the Fourth District] and Monroe [the Fifth District] is just wrong. St. Landry Parish has never been associated with Shreveport or Monroe.”

Higgins says he believes that “morally, legally, ethically and constitutionally, I would be within my rights to stay right where I am if I’m elected.” Higgins adds that Bobby Jindal lived in Baton Rouge when he won election to the First Congressional District seat in 2004. Jindal, however, moved to Kenner after election, inside the First District.

“The founding fathers envisioned that the House of Representatives would be based on population, but not solely population,” Higgins explains. “They believed that the districts should reflect the culture and heritage of the regions included in those districts. I intend to stay where I am, just a few miles outside the district because, culturally, I’m in the district.”

Higgins has been eligible to vote in 31 elections as a resident of St. Landry Parish since 2006, according to records obtained from the Louisiana Secretary of State. He has not voted in 61 percent of those elections (19 in all), some of which present some interesting twists.

Higgins claims most of the votes he missed were local property tax votes. He says that as a longtime renter, he was not always informed on the issues at stake and chose not to cast uninformed votes.

He says he’s a pretty good American, having served his country in the U.S. Army and in law enforcement.

“I can tell you this, if I missed a fall election — presidential or mid-term — it means that something big was going on in my life,” Higgins says.

Higgins, aka "The Cajun John Wayne," burst on the public scene as the frontman for the St. Landry Crime Stoppers videos. As a deputy for the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Department, Higgins got the badge from Sheriff Bobby Guidroz and the gig as well. It turns out, though, that Higgins did not vote in either the primary or the runoff in the 2006 special election in which Guidroz was chosen to fill the unexpired term of the late Howard Zerangue.

The Secretary of State shows that Higgins — then registered to vote at Ward 1, Precinct 10 in Opelousas — did not vote in either of the hotly contested elections between Guidroz and Zeringue’s former chief deputy Laura Balthazar (Lambert Castille’s 253 votes forced a runoff between the two frontrunners who were separated by only 184 votes). Higgins voted in subsequent elections in which the sheriff was on the ballot.

Like many Louisiana voters, Higgins has been drawn to the polls more often by federal elections than other races — with some curious exceptions. He’s been a stalwart voter in presidential elections but has not taken part in any of the three presidential preference primaries held in Louisiana since 2006. He’s left that decision-making to others.

Read more about Higgins here.

In 2010, when Louisiana briefly returned to party primaries for elections to federal offices, Higgins — a registered Republican — did not vote in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat then held by David Vitter. This was the year of the Deepwater Horizon and the Obama deepwater drilling moratorium. Vitter, though, was being challenged by a former state Supreme Court Justice Chet Traylor from Monroe. Higgins again deferred to the wisdom of his fellow Republicans and did not vote.

Higgins did vote in the Oct. 2, 2010, primary for lieutenant governor, which was held to fill the unexpired term of Mitch Landrieu, who had resigned after being elected mayor of New Orleans. Scott Angelle, Higgins’ runoff opponent in the runoff for the Third Congressional District seat, filled the seat on an interim basis until the special election selected Landrieu’s successor.

He voted again on Nov. 2, 2010, when Vitter was re-elected to the Senate over a field that included then-Third District Congressman Charlie Melancon. Jeff Landry was elected to the Third District seat that Melancon abandoned to run for the Senate. At that time, the Third District was based in southeast Louisiana. Melancon had succeeded Billy Tauzin in 2002.

It appears Higgins has left local taxing decisions up to his fellow St. Landry citizens, as he has routinely failed to vote in elections that focused exclusively on tax issues. There were tax issues on the ballot in other elections in which he voted, but the Secretary of State only provides information on whether a person voted without the granularity of which specific contests or issues a person cast his vote.

The most intriguing aspect of Higgins’ sub-.500 voting record shows up in the 2015 primary and general elections for statewide offices.

Higgins voted in the Oct. 24 primary (at Ward 4, Precinct 3). That means he likely voted for a candidate for governor and possibly a candidate for attorney general. But, he did not vote in the Nov. 21 runoff when two of his patrons in the Third District race were on the ballot. David Vitter lost his runoff race to John Bel Edwards in the campaign for governor. But, Jeff Landry won his race against incumbent Attorney General Buddy Caldwell in voting on that day.

Vitter and Landry have scores to settle with and wounds to inflict on Higgins’ opponent, Angelle, and his patron Bobby Jindal. Higgins’ candidacy has proven to be the ideal vehicle to accomplish that, considering Angelle’s stunningly poor run in the primary.

For Vitter, it’s payback time for Angelle, who declined to endorse Vitter in the runoff with JBE. For the ambitious Landry, a congressional loss for Angelle could spell the end of his political career and keep him out of the governor’s race in 2019.

As a .390 hitter in baseball, Higgins would be in the Hall of Fame. With that record as a voter, he’s been a minor league citizen.