Louisiana conducts its state elections using what is known as an open primary system (sometimes called a “jungle primary”). In this format, all candidates run together on the same ballot. If one candidate gets a majority of the votes, they are declared the winner. Otherwise, the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, face each other in a runoff.
Louisiana also conducts state elections the year before the presidential race, so the state will be electing its governor, other state executive officers, and its entire state legislature in the weeks ahead. The “primary” is on Saturday, October 24th, with any runoffs taking place four weeks later, on November 21st.
With the first round of voting taking place this weekend, I examined the candidate listings for the Louisiana State Senate in order to determine which races are the “ones to watch.” There are 39 seats in the State Senate, and the current partisan composition is 26 Republicans and 13 Democrats. Besides discovering that there are very few competitive races, I also determined that partisan control of that body has pretty much already been decided.
Below is a chart detailing the ballot status heading into Saturday’s first round of elections in the Louisiana State Senate. It lists the incumbent, whether he or she is running for re-election, and the number and party designation of other candidates who are on the ballot (not including the incumbent):
The chart above shows that Republicans essentially already have the 20 seats they need for a majority. In 19 districts, the only candidates which will appear on Saturday’s ballot are Republicans. In SD #20 and SD #23, the GOP incumbent is opposed by either an independent or third-party candidate. In both instances, the challenger reported zero receipts and expenditures in their 30-day Pre-Primary Campaign Finance Report. The odds that one of these challengers will unseat the Republican incumbent is pretty small. The odds that this will happen in both of these districts are microscopic.
Some other quick observations:
- 11 of the 39 incumbents are not running for re-election, but 7 of those were unable to run because of the state’s term limits referendum, passed in 1995.
- Democrats have already picked up a seat in SD #24, where only two Democrats filed to run in the seat being vacated by outgoing Sen. Elbert Guillory (who is running for Lieutenant Governor). Sen. Guillory was a Democrat when he won election to this seat in 2011, but switched his party affiliation in 2013.
- In return, Republicans seem poised to pick up a Democratic seat in SD #12, where Sen. Ben Nevers cannot run for re-election because of term limits. Beth Mizell, who came within 350 votes of unseating Sen. Nevers in 2011, is one of two Republicans running in a district that voted 2-to-1 for Mitt Romney in 2012.