October 14 Elections Are All About Turnout, Turnout, and Turnout

Photo credit: Danae Columbus

With Louisiana’s statewide and legislative elections upon us, the candidates and their supporters as well as the backers of the various constitutional amendments and charter change amendments are making their final pushes. Shawn Wilson has spent this week shaking hands, kissing babies and raising money all across the state. He met with supporters at a church in Alexandria, rallied with union leaders and mingled with young professionals in New Orleans. In between promoting his positions on such topics as education and affordable housing, Wilson gave a shout-out to his 6,000 campaign donors on social media.  

Wilson says his life’s work is to bring people together and find common ground because that’s the only way forward. Yet a large number of Louisiana’s voters see a different path forward guided by a very different messenger.   

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Landry is wrapping up his weeklong Diner Dash where  he has taken him to the state’s seven major cities to commune with the ever-growing number of the faithful. Thursday morning, October 12, Landry joined with more than 100 of his New Orleans area supporters for breakfast at Drago’s restaurant in Metairie. T-shirts, caps, koozies and signs were distributed. Landry eagerly worked the room, posed for dozens of photos, and spun Cajun down-home Landryisms that delighted the crowd – which, not surprisingly, included more than a few Black voters. 

Photo credit: Danae Columbus

Though many of Landry’s stands on issues like abortion, banning controversial library books, Medicaid expansion, LGBTQ rights and the environment may be anathema to liberal and progressive voters of all races, every poll places Landry in the lead. Republican political players around the state are confident that Landry has a real fighting chance to win the election outright on Saturday, October 14. They are well financed and highly motivated to elect one of their own after eight years of John Bel Edwards.

Both these candidates are betting on turnout, which has already proven to be a major issue in this year’s elections. Voters simply don’t care. Although candidates like Steve Waguespack, Hunter Lundy, Sharon Hewitt and John Schroder have presented many useful ideas, none have been able to break out of the pack.  

Wilson is pinning his chances of making the runoff on a strong turnout by Democrats and those who believe that Landry’s views are too right-wing. Unfortunately for him, Democrats substantially underperformed during early voting. Republicans did a much better job of getting out their vote and have the resources to encourage voting on Saturday. With all the football games and festivals this weekend, overall turnout could be lackluster except in parishes where hot local races are on the ballot.

Photo credit: Facebook

Billy Nungesser enjoys a big lead in the race for Lt. Governor and could ride to a primary victory on Landry’s coattails. Democratic Willie Jones, who won 30 percent of the vote four years ago is dreaming of a runoff.  Jones is strictly running a grassroots campaign with plenty of signs throughout the region to remind voters that he is a familiar Democrat in the race.

Solicitor General Liz Murrill has led the race for Attorney General the entire campaign cycle. State rep John Stefanski had a clear shot to make the runoff with Murrill until New Orleans lawyer Lindsey Cheek jumped in at the last minute. Cheek is trying hard to squeeze Stefanski out so she can tussle with Murrill one on one, which could be a sight to see. 

Leon Roche and Melanie Talia are duking it on for Criminal District Court. Talia was a tough prosecutor under Harry Connick and Leon Cannizzaro who played the game by the rules of the day no matter the consequences. Roche spent more than a dozen years as a public defender working to save those who were being prosecuted for extremely serious crimes. Roche and Talia are vigorously attacking each other. The law and order crowd prefers Talia but they probably do not constitute the majority of voters in this race. 

State Rep. Mandy Landry (HD 91) made herself some powerful enemies in the last four years and they are clearly after her now. Her opponent Madison O’Malley is young and inexperienced but is backed by a plethora of big-time movers and shakers. Landry is counting on her loyal local base of supporters who appreciate what she has been able to accomplish on issues like reproductive rights. Instead of Democrats galvanizing their resources behind Shawn Wilson, they are taking sides and wasting precious time and money for a contest that should have never happened.

Attorney Shaun Mena and retired Air Force Lt. Colonel Tammy Savoie appear to be headed to a runoff for the new House District 93 seat. Mena and Savoie have similar positions on many issues. Mena, of Honduran descent, has lived in the district his entire life. Savoie will move into the district, which is allowable under state law. Either will be a valuable addition to the Orleans delegation. Mena would give the Black Caucus more strength at a time of increased dominance by conservatives. Savoie would make the Women’s Caucus stronger and bring a military woman’s perspective to the already testosterone-packed chamber. 

Other ballot items that should be supported include renewal of the property tax dedicated to the preservation, improvement and capital repair of OPSB public school facilities; the creation of a stand-alone Department of Code Enforcement to address blight in a more systematic fashion, and the extension of the City Council’s annual budget review process, which currently speeds by before most citizens can absorb all the budget requests.

Photo credit: Danae Columbus

Impartial information about the constitutional amendments on the ballot is available through the Public Affairs Research Council and the League of Women Voters, among others. The polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 14. Early morning – before festivals and football – is always a good time to vote. Be a part of Louisiana’s future by casting your vote.

Oliver Thomas: The Man Who Could Be Mayor

Councilmember Oliver Thomas has probably dreamed about running for mayor of New Orleans for several decades. He took another step toward that goal last night by hosting a fundraiser now that Mayor LaToya Cantrell has passed the halfway threshold of her second and last term. Joining Thomas were many members of the business community as well as old friends. 

Council Vice President Helena Moreno who also has been considering the same race has scheduled a fundraiser for Tuesday, October 17 at the Windsor 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 *