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U.S. Senator John Kennedy won’t run for Louisiana governor in 2019

Kennedy would have been formidable obstacle to re-election of Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

WASHINGTON (CFP) — U.S. Senator John Kennedy will not run for Louisiana’s governorship in 2019, opting not to make what would have been a formidable challenge to Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards’s prospects for re-election.

“It is such an honor to represent the people of Louisiana in the United States Senate. Right now, that’s where I think I can do the most good,” he said in a December 3 statement announcing his decision.

U.S. Senator John Kennedy

The outspoken Kennedy also offered a blistering critique of the condition of state government back in the Pelican State.

“I hope someone runs for Governor who understands that Louisiana state government does not have to be a big, slow, dumb, wasteful, sometimes corrupt, spend-money-like-it-was-ditchwater, anti-taxpayer, top down institution,” he said.

“I love Louisiana as much as I love my country, and the people of my state deserve a state government as good as they are.”

Kennedy, who has won six statewide elections, was the most prominent name among Republicans considering the governor’s race, and his decision not to run is good news for Edwards, who is trying to win re-election as a Democrat in an increasingly Republican state.

The only Republican in the race so far is Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone. U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham of Alto has also said he is considering entering the contest and will announce his decision by January 1.

Kennedy, 67, was elected to the Senate in 2016 on his third try after a long career in state politics. He spent 17 years as state treasurer and served in the administrations of governors Buddy Roemer and Mike Foster. He switched parties from Democrat to Republican in 2007, while treasurer.

During his time in the Senate, Kennedy has become known as one of the chamber’s most quotable members, offering often blunt and colorful analogies.

He once described Facebook’s behavior as “getting into the foothills of creepy,” and after sexual harassment charges rocked Hollywood, said that he didn’t know how movies were getting made “because it looks like they’re all busy molesting each other.”

Taking issue with the practice of credit reporting companies to charge consumers for protecting their information, Kennedy said, “I don’t pay extra in a restaurant to prevent the waiter from spitting in my food.”

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards

Edwards, 52, won the governorship in 2015 by defeating then-U.S. Senator David Vitter, and is the only Democrat to hold a governorship in the Deep South. Kennedy was then elected to Vitter’s seat.

In the 2015 campaign, Edwards benefited from the unpopularity of the outgoing Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, as well as personal issues surrounding Vitter, who publicly admitted to patronizing prostitutes.

This time around, Republicans will make Edwards’s record the issue, including tax hikes and Medicaid expansion that he pushed through the legislature and a controversial program to reduce prison sentences for non-violent offenders.

In Louisiana, all candidates for governor run against each other in a so-called “jungle” primary in October, with the two top vote-getters advancing to a November runoff if no one gets a majority. The Republican field will most likely be competing for the second spot against Edwards.

Louisiana is one of four states that elect governors in off years. Neighboring Mississippi will also have a governor’s election in 2019.

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U.S. Senate, House races will be decided in Louisiana runoff

Democrats face uphill climbs in 2 races; 2 Republicans face off in the other

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

louisiana mugNEW ORLEANS (CFP) — Voters in Louisiana will go to the polls one more time on December 10 to choose a new U.S. Senator and two members of the U.S. House for the northwestern and southwestern parts of the state, in the last federal elections of the 2016 cycle.

After the state’s all-party “jungle” primary on November 8, the Senate race features Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy and Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, pitting two of the state’s longest serving and best-known politicians against each other.

State Treasurer John Kennedy

State Treasurer John Kennedy

Kennedy came in first in the primary with 25 percent, with Campbell at 18 percent. Because Republicans have already secured their 51-seat Senate majority, the Louisiana runoff will not affect the balance of power.

Kennedy, 64, from Madisonville near New Orleans, has been Louisiana’s treasurer for nearly 17 years, winning statewide office five times. In 2004, he made an unsuccessful bid for the Senate as a Democrat and tried again in 2008, after switching parties and becoming a Republican. He lost to Democrat Mary Landrieu.

Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell

Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell

Campbell, 69, from Elm Grove near Shreveport, has represented northwestern Louisiana on the Public Service Commission since 2003, a post he won after making three unsuccessful attempts to win a seat in the U.S. House. He also ran for governor in 2007, coming in fourth place in the primary.

The seat opened up after Republican  U.S. Senator David Vitter decided not to seek re-election and run instead for governor, a race he lost to Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards. Given the Pelican State’s Republican tilt, Kennedy is considered the favorite in the race.

In addition to the Senate race, voters in the 3rd U.S. House District, which takes in southwestern Louisiana, and the 4th District, which takes in the northwest, will choose new congressmen.

In the 3rd District Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle from Breaux Bridge will face fellow Republican Clay Higgins, a former sheriff’s deputy from St. Landry Parish who became well known for tough-talking anti-crime videos that have gone viral on the Internet.

The seat opened when GOP U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany of Lafayette left to make an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate seat, finishing third, just behind Campbell.

In the 4th District, Republican State Rep. Mike Johnson of Bossier Parish will face Democrat Marshall Jones, an attorney from Shreveport, in the runoff, which will be the last House pickup opportunity for Democrats.

The seat opened when U.S. Rep. John Fleming of Minden also decided to run for the Senate, where he finished fifth. Republicans have held this seat since 1988, making Johnson a prohibitive favorite.

Republican U.S. Senate incumbents trying to fight off Democratic challengers

Florida and North Carolina are Senate battlegrounds; Louisiana holds all-party primary for Vitter’s seat

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

election-central-16(CFP) — Nine GOP-held Southern U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs in the November 8 election, with Republican incumbents heavily favored in six races.

The exceptions are Florida, where Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio is facing off against Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, and in North Carolina, where the GOP incumbent, U.S. Senator Richard Burr, is facing Deborah Ross, a former state legislator and Duke University law professor.

And in Louisiana, 24 candidates are running in an all-party “jungle” primary, with the top two vote-getters advancing to a December 10 runoff, which could potentially decide the balance of power in the Senate.

Pre-election polls have shown Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy in the lead, followed by Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, a Democrat; Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany of Lafayette; and Democrat Caroline Fayard, a New Orleans lawyer.

If Kennedy and Boustany can both clear the runoff, the GOP would be guaranteed of keeping the seat, now held by U.S. Senator David Vitter. But if Campbell or Fayard can come through, the December 10 runoff will be the last word on Senate races this year — and, if the Senate is closely divided, decide which party controls the chamber.

In addition to Rubio and Burr, Republican incumbents are seeking re-election in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

All are heavily favored, although the race in Georgia between U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson  and Democratic businessman Jim Barksdale is somewhat more competitive.

In Alabama, Richard Shelby faces Democrat Ron Crumpton, a marijuana rights activist; in Arkansas John Boozman is seeking a second term against Democrat Conner Eldridge, a former federal prosecutor from Fayetteville; and in Kentucky, Rand Paul is running against Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.

In Oklahoma,  James Lankford faces Mike Workman, a Tulsa political consultant, and in South Carolina, Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, faces Democrat Thomas Dixon, a Charleston pastor.

Racist David Duke qualifies for Louisiana U.S. Senate debate

Debate on November 2 will take place at historically black Dillard University

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

louisiana mugNEW ORLEANS (CFP) — Racist David Duke will take the stage at an historically black university on November 2 to debate with five other Louisiana U.S. Senate candidates, after scoring high enough in a poll to qualify for the event.

State Treasurer John Kennedy

State Treasurer John Kennedy

The poll, commissioned by debate Raycom Media, showed Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy and Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell leading a crowded field of 24 candidates vying for the the open Senate seat in the Pelican State’s all-party “jungle” primary.

The top two vote-getters on November 8, regardless of party, will advance to a December 10 runoff.

Duke came in at 5.1 percent in the poll commissioned by Raycom, the sponsor of the debate at Dillard University in New Orleans, which was just above the 5 percent threshold set for candidates to qualify. Raycom confirmed to the Baton Rouge Advocate that, based on those poll results, it would invite Duke to the debate.

Raycom, based in Montgomery, Alabama, plans to air the debate on its television stations in Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport.

Duke celebrated the news in a Tweet, in which he said, “I can’t wait to tell truth nobody else dares!”

Dillard, which rented space for the event to Raycom’s station in New Orleans, WVUE, said in a statement that the university “will work with WVUE to ensure that the event is secure and managed professionally, as it does with every event that occurs on our campus.”

The statement also said that WVUE is the “sole sponsor” of the event and that Dillard “does not endorse the candidacy of any of the candidates who will appear at this debate.”

Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell

Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell

The poll found Kennedy at 24 percent, followed by Campbell at 19 percent. Three candidates were in a statistical tie for third place: Democrat Caroline Fayard, a New Orleans lawyer (12 percent), and two sitting GOP U.S. House members, Charles Boustany of Layfayette (11 percent) and John Fleming of Minden (10 percent).

Among those not making the 5-percent cut were Joseph Cao, a Vietnamese-American Republican who represented the New Orleans area in Congress from 2009 to 2011, and Rob Maness, who made a spirited but unsuccessful Tea Party-backed bid for the Senate in 2014.

The seat is being vacated by Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter, who gave up his Senate seat to make an unsuccessful run for governor in 2015.

Open Louisiana U.S. Senate primary draws 24 candidates

Race will include two sitting members of Congress and white racist David Duke

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

louisiana mugNEW ORLEANS (CFP) — A gaggle of 24 candidates have qualified for the primary for an open U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana, which could play a pivotal role in the battle for Senate control.

The list of those who qualified by the July 22 deadline included three current or former members of Congress, two state officeholders and white supremacist David Duke, who filed to run as a Republican.

In Louisiana, all candidates, regardless of party, run in a Nov. 8 primary, with the top two vote-getters advancing to a December runoff if no one clears 50 percent.

The Louisiana race, then, could become the last and deciding contest for control of the Senate.

In all, nine Republicans filed, along with seven Democrats, two Libertarians and six without a party affiliation.

With so many candidates in the race, the outcome is uncertain. But Democrats hoping to overcome the Pelican State’s Republican tendencies may benefit by having fewer big name candidates in the race to divide their vote.

On the Democratic side, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and Caroline Fayard, a New Orleans lawyer, head the field.

Campbell made a losing bid for governor in 2007, while Fayard was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate in a special election for lieutenant governor in 2010.

The Republican side of the ballot is much more crowded. Two sitting U.S. House members–Charles Boustany of Layfayette and John Fleming of Minden–gave up their seats to pursue the open Senate seat.

Joining them are State Treasurer John Kennedy, a former Democrat who lost Senate races in 2004 and 2008; Joseph Cao, a Vietnamese-American who represented the New Orleans area in Congress from 2009 to 2011; and Rob Maness, who made a spirited but unsuccessful Tea Party-backed bid for the Senate in 2014.

In an announcement video on his website, Duke, making his third try for the Senate, said he was running to represent “European Americans.” He also claimed credit for introducing the phrase “America First” into national politics, which has become a mainstay of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

“I’m overjoyed to see Donald Trump, and most Americans, embrace most of the issues that I’ve championed for years,” he said.

The Louisiana seat opened up after U.S. Senator David Vitter retired to make an unsuccessful bid for governor in 2015.

Democrat John Bel Edwards wins Louisiana governorship

Edwards defeats GOP U.S. Senator David Vitter, who announces he won’t seek re-election

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

louisiana mugNEW ORLEANS (CFP) — Democratic State Rep. John Bel Edwards will be the next governor of Louisiana after defeating Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter in a contentious runoff.

In his concession speech, Vitter announced that he will not seek re-election to  the Senate next year, opening a seat Republicans will have to defend to keep their majority.

Louisiana Governor-elect John Bel Edwards

Louisiana Governor-elect John Bel Edwards

Edwards took 56 percent in the November 21 vote, to just 44 percent for Vitter, easily winning a race few people thought Edwards could win when he announced his long-shot candidacy in 2013.

“The people have chosen hope over scorn, over negativity and over the distrust of others,” Edwards said at his victory party in a New Orleans hotel.

“I did not create this breeze of hope that’s blowing across our beautiful and blessed state, but I did catch it. And I thank God I did.”

Edwards, 49, an attorney and former Army Ranger from Amite, was the minority leader in the Louisiana House, where he was a strong critic of Republican Governor Bobby Jindal, particularly over Jindal’s refusal to expand Medicaid.

However, Edwards ran a race tailored to culturally conservative Louisiana–opposing abortion and supporting gun rights–to become the first Democrat to win a statewide race in seven years.

He will be one of just three Democratic governors in the 14 Southern states. The others are in Virginia and West Virginia.

U.S. Senator David Vitter

U.S. Senator David Vitter

Vitter, 54, started out the race for governor heavily favored. But he was dogged by two Republican challengers in the state’s all-party “jungle” primary and started the runoff far behind Edwards, who had the united support of Democrats.

So bitter was the primary that one of Vitter’s two Republican opponents, Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne, crossed party lines to endorse Edwards, angering the state’s GOP establishment. The other, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, sat out the runoff rather than supporting Vitter.

The senator was burdened both by Jindal’s marked unpopularity and continued fallout over a 2007 scandal in which he was linked to a Washington prostitution ring.

In the closing days of the campaign, Vitter tried to make the possible resettlement of Syrian refugees in Louisiana an issue, but it was not enough to catch Edwards, despite the state’s strong GOP tendencies.

“I have lost one political campaign in my life–tonight–and, ironically, it’s the campaign and the political effort I am most proud of, particularly these last few weeks, fighting shoulder to shoulder with you,” Vitter said during his concession speech at a hotel in suburban New Orleans.

Vitter then announced to his supporters that he would not seek re-election next year, ending his 23-year political career that took him from the State House in Baton Rouge to the halls of Congress.

“I had decided when I decided to make this race … that I wanted to pursue new challenges outside the Senate, no matter what,” he said. “I’d reached my personal term limit.”

While Republicans would be favored to keep the seat, Vitter’s decision gives Democrats their best chance outside of Florida of flipping a Southern Senate seat in 2016.

 

U.S Senator David Vitter airs mea culpa ad in Louisiana governor’s race

Vitter admits he “failed family,” as his opponent accuses him of choosing “prostitutes over patriots”

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

louisiana mugNEW ORLEANS (CFP) — Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter has gone on the air with a personal mea culpa in the Louisiana governor’s race after his Democratic opponent accused him in an ad of choosing “prostitutes over patriots.”

U.S. Senator David Vitter

U.S. Senator David Vitter

The new ad from Vitter — who acknowledged committing unspecified “sin” in 2007 after being publicly linked to a Washington, D.C. prostitution ring — begins with the line, “Fifteen years ago, I failed my family.”

“But I found forgiveness and love,” Vitter says, as a video plays of him sitting around a dining room table with his family. “I learned that our falls aren’t what define us but rather how we get up, accept responsibility and earn redemption.”

“You know me. I’m a fighter, and as your governor, I’ll get up every day to fight for you.”

Vitter’s new ad appeared just days after his Democratic opponent in the November 21 runoff, State Rep. John Bel Edwards, went up with a hard-hitting ad touting his military experience and drawing a sharp contrast between himself and Vitter.”

“The choice for governor couldn’t be more clear — John Bel Edwards, who answered our country’s call and served as a Ranger in the 82nd Airborne Division, or David Vitter, who answered a prostitute’s call minutes after he skipped a vote honoring 28 soldiers who gave their lives in defense of our freedom.”

The ad ends with the tagline, “David Vitter chose prostitutes over patriots. Now the choice is yours.”

The vote raised in the Edwards campaign ad was taken in 2001. After the prostitution scandal broke six years later, media reports of telephone records linked to the prostitution ring showed Vitter making a phone call to a D.C. madam at the time he was missing the vote.

Although the prostitution scandal is nearly eight years old and Vitter won re-election to the Senate in 2010 despite the lurid headlines, the controversy has continued to dog him in the governor’s race, particularly after a former prostitute claimed that Vitter got her pregnant and encouraged her to have an abortion. She said she refused and gave the child up for adoption.

Vitter has vehemently denied the allegations.

Vitter trailed Edwards by 17 points in the state’s all-party “jungle” primary in October. However, the Republican vote was split between Vitter and two other major Republican contenders, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne, while Edwards was the only major Democrat in the race.

Dardenne has since crossed party lines to endorse Edwards in the runoff; Angelle has so far remained neutral.

Watch the new ad from U.S. Senator David Vitter:
Watch the ad from State Rep. John Bel Edwards:

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