Legislators already jumping into 2019

by Jeremy Alford, LaPolitics


Even though the regular campaign season for the Louisiana Legislature won’t come around again until 2019, there’s already one open seat that will be decided by a special election next year and more could soon follow.

In another surprising trend, candidates across the state are already starting to announce their legislative bids for 2019 — showing how even down-ballot campaigns are starting earlier than ever.

Part of this early posturing could be due to terms limits, which will force out somewhere between 60 percent and 70 percent of the entire House and Senate in roughly three years.

The latest development comes from Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, a longtime Capitol player who started his legislative career in the House in 1994.

Martiny said he is considering a potential run for a different elected job closer to home in the near future. But it largely depends on what happens on this coming Election Day.

While he has been urged to consider running for judge in the coming years, Martiny is keeping tabs on the Jefferson Parish Council seat held by Ben Zahn, who is expected to win his bid for Kenner mayor on Dec. 10. If Zahn is successful, the resulting vacancy on the parish council could be a good fit for Martiny, who is term-limited.

“I’m considering that,” Martiny told LaPolitics.

In turn, if Martiny is successful, that would trigger a special election in Senate District 10. Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge, has already said he is interested in running.

Martiny’s potential exit from the upper chamber would create some openings for leadership gigs as well. He is the commerce chairman and the chairman of the Senate GOP delegation.

Also dependent on the Dec. 10 runoffs are whether Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, wins his bid for Baton Rouge mayor and if Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Shreveport, is victorious in the 4th Congressional District race.

If both win, then two special elections will be needed next year.

There’s already a special election scheduled for March 25 in House District 92, where former Rep. Tom Willmott won his primary campaign for the Kenner City Council.

As for some very early posturing, Iberia Parish Councilman Ricky Gonsoulin is already telling supporters that he will run in House District 48 next cycle, in 2019. That’s the seat being vacated by House Speaker Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, due to term limits.

East Carroll Parish Police Jury President Lee Denny, who lives in House District 19, has also already started campaigning and intends to be on the ballot. This is the district currently occupied by Rep. Bubba Chaney, R-Rayville, who is likewise term limited.