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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.
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.”
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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Republicans sweep the last three federal elections of the 2016 cycle
♦By Rich Shumate, Chicken Fried Politics.com editor
BATON ROUGE (CFP) — The third time was the charm for State Treasurer John Kennedy, who has captured a U.S. Senate seat from Louisiana on his third attempt for the office.
Kennedy, a Republican, easily swept aside Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell in the December 10 runoff, winning by a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent.
In the night’s only upset, voters in the 3rd U.S. House District went for a tough-talking former deputy sheriff, Clay Higgins,, who has been dubbed the “Cajun John Wayne” for anti-crime videos that have gone viral on the Internet. He beat Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, a veteran politician with a long pedigree.
The Senate race pitted two of the state’s best known and longest-serving politicians. Kennedy has been treasurer since 2000, while Campbell has served on the PSC since 2003.
Kennedy, 64, from Madisonville, won on this third try for the Senate, having lost as a Democrat in 2004 and as a Republican in 2008 after switching parties in 2007.
Despite his long service in state office, Kennedy positioned himself as a political outsider ready to take on Washington.
“This campaign was about change versus status quo,” Kennedy said in his victory speech at a Baton Rouge hotel. “I believe that our future can be better than our present or our past, but not if we keep going in the direction that the Washington insiders have taken us for the past eight years.”
Campbell, 69, from Elm Grove, is also no stranger to losing campaigns, having lost three times for the U.S. House and once for governor. He faced an uphill battle in trying to win a Senate seat in a state that Donald Trump carried by nearly 20 points.
After Trump’s victory, donations to Campbell’s campaign poured in from around the country, pumping more than $2 million into his runoff effort. But in the end, it wasn’t enough.
“We worked as hard as possible. We left no stone unturned,” Campbell told supporters during a concession speech in downtown Baton Rouge. “We knew going in that this race was going to be tough.”
The Senate seat opened up after Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter decided to give it up to make an unsuccessful run for governor last year.
Kennedy’s win means Republicans will have 52 Senate seats, with 46 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the Democrats. Of the 28 Senate seats from the 14 Southern states, Republicans hold 24, with only four Democrats.
Runoffs were also held for two of Louisiana’s six U.S. House seats, which opened up when the incumbents made bids for the U.S. Senate. Republicans kept both seats.
Celebrity trumped resume in the 3rd District, which takes in the Acadiana region of southwestern Louisiana.
Higgins, a former deputy sheriff in St. Landry Parish whose tough-talking Crime Stoppers videos became an Internet sensation, easily defeated Angelle, who has served for nearly 30 years in elected or appointed office, including a brief stint as lieutenant governor.
The margin was 56 percent to 44 percent. This was a Republican-versus-Republican runoff, as no Democrat survived the all-party jungle primary on November 8.
Bad blood left over from the 2015 governor’s race may have also played a role in Higgins’s victory. Angelle came in third in that race, behind Vitter and the eventual winner, Democrat John Bel Edwards, but refused to endorse Vitter in the runoff. That angered Republican leaders, some of whom worked on Higgins’s behalf.
In the 4th District, which takes in the northwestern Louisiana, State Rep. Mike Johnson, from Bossier Parish defeated Democrat Marshall Jones, an attorney from Shreveport, by a margin of 65 percent to 35 percent.
With the victories by Angelle and Johnson, Republicans will maintain their 5-to-1 advantage in the state’s House delegation.
Across the South, Republicans hold 114 U.S. House seats to 40 for Democrats.
Democrats face uphill climbs in 2 races; 2 Republicans face off in the other
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
NEW 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.
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.
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 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.
Rubio and Burr beat back challenges in Florida, North Carolina; Kennedy and Campbell will contest runoff in Louisiana
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
Meanwhile, in Louisiana’s all-party “jungle” primary, State Treasurer John Kennedy and Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell will advance to a December 10 runoff for the open seat being vacated by Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter.
Kennedy led with 25 percent, with Campbell at 18 percent, edging out Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany at 15 percent.
Because Republicans already secured their 51-seat Senate majority, the Louisiana runoff will not affect the balance of power.
In addition to Rubio and Burr, Republican incumbents also won re-election in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and South Carolina.
With the wins on November 8, Republicans will hold 23 of the 28 Southern Senate seats, with Louisiana still to be decided.
In Florida, Rubio had initially decided to give up his Senate seat to pursue the Republican presidential nomination. But after losing the White House contest, he changed course and filed to run for a second term, improving the GOP ‘s prospects for keeping the seat.
Rubio took 52 percent, defeating Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who took 44 percent.
Alluding to his withdrawal from the presidential race in March, he told election night supporters in Miami, “This is a lot better than the last time I did one of these.”
Rubio, who had been a critic of Trump before reluctantly endorsing him, did not mention his party’s victorious presidential standard-bearer in his speech, but he did make a plea for civility in politics.
“While we can disagree on issues, we cannot share a country where people hate each other because of their political affiliations,” Rubio said.
In North Carolina, Burr, seeking a third term, took 51 percent of the vote, defeating Deborah Ross, a former state legislator and Duke University law professor, who took 45 percent.
“I am truly humbled by the support I’ve received from people across this state,” Burr said at a victory celebration in Winston-Salem. “This is a victory for all of those who have believed in me.”
In a state notorious for exchanging Senate seats between parties, Burr becomes the first senator to win three consecutive terms since Jesse Helms in 1984.
Here are the other Southern Senate results:
Alabama: Republican U.S. Senator Richard Shelby won a seventh term by defeating Democrat Ron Crumpton, a marijuana rights activist. by a margin of 64-36 percent. At the end of his new term, Shelby will be 88 and will have served in Congress for 44 years.
Arkansas: Republican U.S. Senator John Boozman won a second term by taking 60-36 percent for Democrat Conner Eldridge, a former federal prosecutor from Fayetteville. Boozman suffered an aortic aneurysm in 2014 that kept him away from Washington for two months.
Georgia: Republican U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson won a third term in the Senate by defeating Democrat Jim Barkdale, a wealthy Atlanta businessman, by a 55-41 percent margin. Isakson ran for re-election to a third term despite announcing in 2015 that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Kentucky: Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul defeated Lexington Mayor Jim Gray by a margin of 57-43 percent. Paul had pursued re-election simultaneously with a presidential campaign until he dropped out of the White House race in February.
Oklahoma: Republican U.S. Senator James Lankford easily won his first full six-year term by defeating Democrat Mike Workman, a Tulsa political consultant, by a margin of 68-25 percent. In 2014, Lankford was elected to finish out the final two years of Tom Coburn’s term after he resigned.
South Carolina: Republican U.S. Senator Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, easily won a full six-year term by defeating Democrat Thomas Dixon, a Charleston pastor, by a margin of 61-36 percent. In 2014, Scott was elected to serve out the remaining two years of Jim DeMint’s term, after he resigned.
Florida and North Carolina are Senate battlegrounds; Louisiana holds all-party primary for Vitter’s seat
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
(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.
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.
Protestors spar with police as Duke screams at the moderator, calls for Hillary Clinton to get the electric chair
NEW ORLEANS (CFP) — David Duke’s appearance at a November 2 U.S. Senate debate in Louisiana descended into turmoil, with the white racist screaming at the moderator and calling for Hillary Clinton’s execution, while police used pepper spray on angry protestors trying to get into the hall.
The sponsor of the debate, Raycom Media, which operates television states in four Louisiana cities, decided not to allow the public into the debate, leaving the six candidates on the stage talking to a television camera and a largely empty auditorium at Dillard University in New Orleans.
That didn’t sit well with protestors outside, who were angered by Duke’s presence at the historically black university and tried to force their way through a police cordon at the doorway. Six people were arrested, only one of which was a Dillard student, according to the university.
The specter of Duke was inescapable inside as well as outside the hall, with the moderator, John Snell, struggling mightily at times to prevent his presence from overwhelming the discussion.
Answering a question about Obamacare, Democrat Caroline Fayard pivoted to a direct attack on Duke.
“This snake has slithered out of the swamp, probably because the career politicians on this stage haven’t done their job effectively enough,” Fayard said. “But I’m here to tell … everybody who cares about the future of Louisiana that on November 8, the voters of Louisiana are going to join with me and cut the head off his hatred, once and for all.”
At another point, State Treasurer John Kennedy, a Republican who is leading the polls in the race, called Duke “a convicted liar,” a reference to his 2002 conviction for tax and mail fraud.
“He spent time in prison for lying to his supporters. He swindled them out of their money and took that money and used it for his gambling addiction,” Kennedy said.
Snell gave Duke 15 seconds to respond, and, when he tried to go over his allotted time, the fireworks began.
“You’re not a moderator. You’re a typical media hack,” Duke shouted, as Snell tried to go on to the next speaker. “You’re gonna silence me now? You’re going to silence me?”
Later in the debate, Snell asked Duke what he meant by repeated references to “CNN Jews” in his earlier complaints about the media’s coverage of Donald Trump’s Access Hollywood tape.
“There is a problem in America with a very strong, powerful, tribal group that dominates our media and dominates out international banking,” Duke said. “I’m not opposed to all Jews … I’m against Jews or anybody else that puts the interest of some other place, or another country, over our own country.”
He then pivoted to a criticism of American foreign policy in general — and Clinton’s role in it in particular.
“The lady should be getting the electric chair, being charged with treason,” he said.
Duke has been an outspoken supporter of Trump. During the debate, he said, “I will be Donald Trump’s most loyal advocate to make sure his nominees go to the Supreme Court.”
Duke was also the subject of a testy change between the two Democrats on the stage, Fayard and Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, over an ad her campaign has run insinuating that Campbell has been friendly with Duke on the campaign trail.
“There’s no context in which it is acceptable to have a conversation, whether public or private, with someone like David Duke,” said Fayard, who insisted her ad was accurate.
But Campbell said the insinuation that he has been cozy with Duke not was “not just a lie, it’s a damn lie.”
“I have nothing in common with David Duke other that that we’re probably breathing,” Campbell said.
After the debate, Dillard issued a statement saying police used pepper spray as a “last resort” after protestors tried to enter the building. However, peaceful protests outside the hall were not impeded.
“At no time did Dillard discourage protests; either by students or members of the community. We shared a dual responsibility of providing a safe space for those protesters and for the orderly management of the event,” the statement said.
Raycom contracted with Dillard to host the debate before it knew Duke would qualify for the event. The university decided to go ahead and honor the contract, despite criticism from students and alumni unhappy about the prospect of Duke appearing at Dillard.
Of the 24 candidates running for the Pelican State’s open U.S. Senate seat, six qualified for the debate based on their support in a poll commissioned by Raycom — Kennedy, Campbell, Fayard, Duke, and U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany of Layfayette and John Fleming of Minden.
In Louisiana, all candidates regardless of party run in a “jungle” primary on November 8, with the top two vote-getters advancing to a December 10 runoff.
Polls show Kennedy and Campbell leading the race, which was apparent in the debate, with Boustany and Fleming taking aim at Kennedy and Fayard primarily targeting Campbell.
Here is the video of the debate:
Debate on November 2 will take place at historically black Dillard University
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
NEW 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.
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.”
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.