A Louisiana Elections Primer: The next four years will be a wild ride

By Robert Mann

“I advise anyone who thinks he knows something about politics to go down to Louisiana and take a postgraduate course.” –Texas U.S. Sen. Tom Connally, 1932.

If you are obsessed with politics, Louisiana is the place for you – especially over the next four years.

In that time, Louisiana voters will choose a new governor and elect (or re-elect) two U.S. senators. Those elections will probably trigger a flood of competitive races to fill resulting vacancies, as at least one U.S. senator, several U.S. House members and three statewide elected officials may be vacating their seats to run for higher office.

Those races, in turn, would trigger a domino effect of vacancies for lower offices — from the U.S. House all the way down to school board – as other officials scramble to run for the multitude of open seats.

So, with that in mind, here’s the lay of the political land in Louisiana:

2014: U.S. Senate Race

First up is the 2014 U.S. Senate race in which Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, will be running for her fourth six-year term. It will be a tough race (Landrieu always has difficult re-election races), but as I wrote recently, it’s much too early to write her off. Still, her approval rating in a recent statewide poll was 47 percent — not horrible, but just low enough to cause her some concern.

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Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter

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Sen. Mary Landrieu: She may be a GOP target, but don’t dismiss her re-election chances

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Sen. Mary Landrieu

By Robert Mann

A recent Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey showing Sen. Mary Landrieu leading a slew of potential challengers seems to have signaled the start of the 2014 Louisiana U.S. Senate race — although election day is still 22 long months away.

According to the polling organization, Landrieu “leads all seven [potential opponents] we tested against her, by margins ranging from 3 to 12 points.” Those potential opponents, PPP said, were: Gov. Bobby Jindal, who trails Landrieu, 49 to 41 in a possible match-up; Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, trailing Landrieu, 46-43; Lake Charles U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, 48-42; former U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, 48-39; New Orleans U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, 48-38; Baton Rouge U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, 50-40; and, Shreveport U.S. Rep. John Fleming, 50-38. Not tested by PPP was BESE Board President Chas Roemer, son of former Gov. Buddy Roemer, who recently said that he is looking at he race.

Besides the obvious good news across the board for Landrieu, the picture gets even better when you consider that four of her strongest potential challengers are not likely to run.

Jindal is busy putting together his presidential campaign. Dardenne is expected to run for governor in 2015 [note: since this was first posted, Dardenne has said he will consider the race against Landrieu]. Boustany and Scalise seem content to continue earning seniority and building power in the U.S. House [they have since said they will not run]. Of those polled by PPP, that leaves — as the most likely challengers to Landrieu — Landry, Cassidy and Fleming.

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