Louisiana Considers Changes to “Jungle Primary” System

Agreement between Louisiana Democrats and Republicans is almost as rare as it is in Washington. But there’s one issue that the two parties may be coming to an agreement on: changing the state’s primary system.

Since 1975 – except for a brief change in the mid-2000s – Louisiana has followed an open primary system. All candidates, regardless of party, run against each other on the ballot for congressional, statewide, and local elections. However, this system can often result in congressional elections being decided in December – as happened this year in Louisiana’s 5th District – nearly a month after every other state. This can put Louisiana’s congressional delegation behind, causing them to miss orientations and negotiations for committee assignments. Not to mention a month behind in building political relationships and capital that could be important for advancing legislative agendas down the road.

“It doesn’t mean they’re not going to be successful members of Congress,” said Republican Representative Steve Scalise. “It just means they start that much further behind than everybody else.”

Democratic Sen. Cleo Fields and Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry have also voiced support for closed primaries. But changing the system isn’t as simple as heading to a vote. The logistics can be both complex and costly, depending on the approach Louisiana decides to adopt.

“There are all sorts of ways to do it, but I would argue we chose the worst way,” Scalise told the Closed Primary Task Force created by Senate Republican leader Sharon Hewitt.

Furthermore, some prominent Louisiana politicians aren’t so eager for change. “I missed orientation, and my life was still the same,” said Republican U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy. “I’m kind of indifferent, but if someone could show me a system that did not cost more, I’d consider it.”

In addition, a majority of Louisiana clerks of court have voted to oppose switching the system, arguing that it disenfranchises voters, particularly those used to the current primary system.

“We’re on the front line, and people do not understand why they can’t vote for who they want to vote for,” said St. Tammany Parish Clerk of Court Melissa Henry.

Help Keep Big Easy Magazine Alive

Hey guys!

Covid-19 is challenging the way we conduct business. As small businesses suffer economic losses, they aren’t able to spend money advertising.

Please donate today to help us sustain local independent journalism and allow us to continue to offer subscription-free coverage of progressive issues.

Thank you,
Scott Ploof
Big Easy Magazine

Share this Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *