Local Election Overview: Will a Blue Wave Blow Through Louisiana on Election Day?

Source: Danae Columbus

It was a beautiful Sunday morning in Audubon Park when I ran into businesswoman Katie Darling, the Democrat running for Congress in Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District. Darling had planned a quick meet and greet prior to last week’s Saints game and was busy setting up with her newborn son securely strapped around her. Darling’s opponent of course is the powerful House Minority Whip Steve Scalise who was re-elected to his eighth term with 72.2 percent of the vote in 2020. 

“Do you think you are going to beat Steve Scalise?” I asked. “I’m trying to beat Scalise. I’d like to beat Scalise,” replied Darling, a first time candidate. Darling decided to enter the contest after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Darling is right on point with all the issues Democrats are fighting for this year. Yet she is no match for Scalise who in October and early November campaigned for 42 House members in 17 states and is on track to eventually become House Majority Leader when the Republicans regain power.  Scalise has been flooding Louisiana’s airwaves with messages about crime, high inflation and gas prices – the kind of bread-and-butter concerns that have eclipsed abortion as the predominant issue.  

Democrats in the U.S. Senate race including former fighter pilot Luke Mixon, activist Gary Chambers Jr. and non-profit executive Syrita Steib have also had a difficult time convincing voters to choose one of them instead of incumbent Senator John Kennedy, a national media darling. Last week I thought it might be possible for the three main democratic opponents to collectively force Kennedy into a run-off. But as polls show that suburban voters are leaning more conservative, it appears harder for them to garner the support needed. 

Endorsed by Governor John Bel Edwards, Mixon has the largest following and fundraising strength and would be most likely to make the run-off. Endorsed by Congressman Troy Carter, both Chambers and Steib have run solid races. Steib, who works with women re-entering society after incarceration, has impressed many voters with her adept answers at the forums. She is skilled at the legislative process and has successfully passed significant legislation. Her focus includes collaboration, energy, rights of women, education and infrastructure. 

Chambers continues to build an impressive national following but remains disappointed that Black Louisiana residents did not early vote in greater numbers at a time when Louisiana continues to rank last or close to last on so many indicators including education, healthcare and crime. Chambers is seeking volunteers for one last canvass Monday at 4 p.m. in Algiers, 446 Pelican Avenue. “We can force a runoff if Black voters show up in masses,” said Chambers in a recent Instagram post. His name has already surfaced as a potential candidate for governor in 2023. Chambers could also parlay his budding national reputation into a position with a think tank or major non-profit outside Louisiana.

Congressman Troy A. Carter, Sr.
Congressman Troy A. Carter, Sr.

Congressman Troy Carter has made all the right moves since being elected to replace former Congressman Cedric Richmond in 2020. With his outgoing personality, Carter has quickly built relationships on The Hill and currently serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Small Business Committee. With his strong ties to President Joe Biden and an ability to work across party lines, Carter has been able to bring billions back to the 2nd Congressional District which runs from New Orleans up the river and also includes parts of East and West Baton Rouge parishes. Carter secured more than $2.1 billion in Hurricane Ida relief funds, more than $2.5 billion to restore Louisiana’s coast and $7 billion for infrastructure. Carter is also pleased with his work to secure funds for Southern University and to help build a long-dreamed-of stadium in L9. Carter faces Republican challenger Dan Lux who admits he is not a politician.  

Public Service Commission Chairman Lambert Boissiere III, who is vying for a fourth six-year term, has three progressive opponents – Davante Lewis, Rev. Gregory Manning, and Willie Jones – who have been pounding Boissiere for his financial contributions and voting history in support of industries regulated by the P.S.C. Even the Environmental Defense Fund political arm spent $500,000 to educate voters on relevant issues. With his own sizable war chest and deep political support from current and former elected officials including Governor Edwards and Congressman Carter, Boissiere seems to be holding his own. 

It’s possible that advocates of Lewis, Manning, Jones and candidate Jesse Thompson – can cobble together enough votes to force a runoff. For folks in the River Parishes who have been continually hit with environmental racism from industry ever-encroaching into their historic neighborhoods, this race is extremely important. Even Thompson, who is a white engineer living in Plaquemine, Louisiana, says he can’t drink the water from his backyard well because it is polluted. 

Some believe that Jones – who garnered 30 percent of the vote in the 2018 Lt Governor’s race – is the second-place vote getter. Jones has flooded the district with signs to remind Black voters of their previous support. Many other Black and White progressives are standing behind Lewis and Manning who have similar views on the issues. Lewis has used social media wisely. Manning is supported by many environmental organizations. 

The State Senate District 5 race pits two well-respected state representatives – Royce Duplessis and Mandie Landry – against one another to fill the one year remaining of Karen Carter Peterson’s term. Both have voted basically in sync on many issues important to their constituents. Landry, a strong, determined woman, has been the leader on abortion rights for years. Duplessis also has a strong record on womens’ rights, and notably, received the Independent Women’s Organization’s (IWO) sole endorsement. Duplessis pledges that he’ll prioritize that and other issues. District 5 was carved out as a Black district 10 years ago. Currently Black voters are the minority in the district but will become the majority again in 2023. Landry’s house district was majority Black when she was first elected three years ago. All of her house district is included in Senate District 5 which could give her a slight edge with voters.   

In the last 10 days, Duplessis has accused Landry of opposing a second Black congressional district because of a vote she made in support of a Republican, anti-abortion north Louisiana legislator. Landry cast the vote for that legislator based on what she considered to be house protocol. Duplessis later took full advantage of what he considered a weakness on her part. Is everything fair in love and politics? Landry might disagree.   

Duplessis’s donor base is filled with a who’s who of local businesses and Baton Rouge opinion makers. His endorsement list is also substantial. Landry’s donor base is much more grass roots and includes mothers, daughters, sisters and aunts who might have been personally impacted by abortion. Generally speaking, either candidate would do an excellent job representing the district’s voters in Baton Rouge.

The other hot button contest is between incumbent First City Court Clerk Austin Badon and challenger, former City Councilmember Donna Glapion. Badon, a popular former legislator, has been repeated hit for his role as a floor leader for former Governor Bobby Jindal and for his anti-abortion stance. Glapion, a former Zulu Queen, is a pro-choice candidate. This has been a relatively low budget race but with plenty of drama. Badon, a member of the BOLD political organization, had an early commitment from Governor Edwards which vanished after Labor Day. Glapion has a plethora of endorsements and is supported by State Rep. Candace Newell, a BOLD member. Badon says he has done everything he could think of to win the race and feels confident going into the closing days.

Finally, an open seat on the Orleans Parish School Board brings together former OPSB executive Leila Eames, the interim board member, against Dr. Patrice Sentino, an educator, clinician and researcher who ran previously. Sentino is a potent speaker based on her knowledge and experience. Eames has the right political connections. New Orleans schools need strong board members who will make the right choices to ensure students are prepared for the future. 

There are also eight constitutional amendments on the ballot. PAR (Public Affairs Research Council) has a full explanation on all the 2022 amendments at parlouisiana.org.

There are also two contests for Municipal and Traffic Court. Long-time veteran judge Mark Shea is being challenged by newcomer Derek Russ. Shea has called in all the favors from his years on the bench and his family’s history of service to the community. With much less funding, Russ is spending strategically and has flooded New Orleans with signs. Shea’s biggest supporter is Congressman Troy Carter. Councilmember Lesli Harris is among those in Russ’s corner.

In the open Municipal and Traffic Court race, two experienced attorneys- Geoffrey Gates and Bobbie Smith are competing. Gates spent many years working at the court and has ideas for improvements. Smith is an experienced litigator and would bring a fresh eye. Gates won the vote from attorneys who are members of the New Orleans Bar Association. Smith is supported by Congressman Troy Carter. Either would bring a new perspective to the court.

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 *