JBE uncommitted on lege endorsements

by Jeremy Alford, LaPolitics

As January reaches its midpoint, Gov. John Bel Edwards hasn’t decided who he might support in the Legislature’s upcoming special elections in north and south Louisiana.

It’s possible that the governor, a Democrat, could potentially avoid the races for these legislative seats altogether, especially since all of them are located in districts that lean conservative.

Edwards made a small handful of endorsements last year, helping Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome get elected but falling short on his other nods for the U.S. Senate, Congress and Public Service Commission.

Now there are three special elections slated for March 25 to fill seats in the House of Representatives.

Candidates have already signed up for the House District 8 race in the Bossier City region, where newly-seated Congressman Mike Johnson vacated the post, and for the House District 92 contest in the Kenner area, which was prompted by the election of former Rep. Tom Willmott to the City Council there.

The race in the Acadiana-based House District 42 will be open to qualifiers beginning next week, from Jan. 25-27. It was made vacant when Jack Montoucet was appointed as the new wildlife and fisheries secretary by Edwards.

Runoffs in all of these special elections, as needed, are scheduled for April 29.

The legislative seats will remain vacant during the Legislature’s next special session, which the governor is expected to call for mid-February.

The governor has said that the special session will be needed to help address a $313 million deficit plaguing the current fiscal year.

This year’s regular session will convene on April 10, which means new lawmakers elected via special elections may miss a few weeks of the action if runoffs are needed.

The regular session is expected to host discussions on tax reform and a contentious budget debate for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.