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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.
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:
Race will include two sitting members of Congress and white racist David Duke
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
NEW 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.
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.
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.