By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023
GovernorLouisiana: AG Landry (R) Wins Outright — Republican attorney general and former Congressman Jeff Landry, whom former President Donald Trump supported as did the Louisiana Republican Party, scored a surprise outright victory on Saturday in the open Louisiana governor’s race, capturing an unofficial 51.6 percent of the vote. Former Department of Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson, the consensus Democratic candidate, received 25.9 percent of the vote in what must be considered a substantial under-performance and a potential warning sign to Democrats. Former gubernatorial chief of staff Stephen Waguespack, who spent heavily on the race, only finished in the five percent range virtually tied with state Treasurer John Schroder (R).
Turnout registered 35.8 percent of Louisiana’s 2.97 million voters, below the 45.9 percent who participated in the 2019 gubernatorial primary and closer to the 39.2 percent turnout recorded in the commensurate 2015 election. Landry will now succeed outgoing Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) who was ineligible to seek a third term.
Louisiana: Down Ballot Results — Saturday’s Louisiana regular primary election produced results for several statewide races and ballot propositions. Lt. Gov. Bill Nungesser (R) won a second term with a 66 percent vote total, easily awarding him an outright victory. The open secretary of state, attorney general, and state treasurer positions all will advance to a Nov. 18 runoff election. Each of these offices qualified a Republican and a Democrat.
In the secretary of state race, Assistant Secretary of State Nancy Landry (R) will face Democratic attorney Gwen Collins-Greenup. The attorney general campaign advances to a contest between State Solicitor General Liz Baker Murrill (R) and attorney Lindsey Cheek (D). In the treasurer’s campaign, the finalists are former US Rep. John Fleming (R) and financial planner Dustin Granger (D).
A total of 73 percent of the voters supported a ballot proposition that bans outside organizations helping the state to fund and administer elections. This measure was placed on the ballot as a response to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg spending millions in the last election for election administration. A huge 79 percent majority supported a ballot prop that “provides that freedom of worship is a fundamental right worthy of the highest protection.” By a closer 56-44 percent margin, voters approved a final measure that restricts ad valorem tax exemptions for certain nonprofit organizations. (Ad valorem translated directly from Latin, means “according to the value of something.” In practical use, the term is used in taxation to designate taxes levied against property, real or personal assets, at a certain rate based on the property’s value.)
MN-3: Rep. Phillips Draws Significant Dem Primary Challenge — Responding to Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Plymouth) repeatedly calling for individuals to step forward and challenge President Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination, Democratic National Committee member Ron Harris announced his own intra-party challenge to the congressman. While Rep. Phillips is still not completely ruling out entering the presidential contest, he will now have to concentrate on a Minnesota party convention fight and potentially an August 2024 primary challenge.
Rep. Phillips was first elected in 2018, defeating then-Congressman Erik Paulsen (R). He has averaged 56.9 percent of the vote in his three elections. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates MN-3 as D+14. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the district as the 63rd most vulnerable district in the 212-member Democratic Conference.
UT-2: New Poll Released for Nov. 21 Special Election — Lighthouse Research conducted a poll of the state’s 2nd District special election for the Utah Debate Commission that would decide which candidates would qualify for the Oct. 26 local PBS forum. The UDC (Sept. 26-Oct. 6; 528 registered UT-2 voters) required that candidates receive at least 5.74 percent support in the poll. Libertarian Brad Green only posted 5.68 percent, meaning he failed to qualify under the commission rules by the slimmest of margins.
Republican Celeste Maloy, resigned Rep. Chris Stewart’s (R) former legal counsel, placed first in the survey with 42.8 percent of the vote. State Sen. Kathleen Riebe (D-Cottonwood Heights), was second with 34.3 percent. Maloy’s showing should be considered an under-performance for the Republican nominee in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+23, and the Daily Kos Elections statisticians rank as the 81st most vulnerable district within the 221-member Republican Conference. The special election is scheduled for Nov. 21.