Voters across the state will head to the polls Saturday to entertain a number of primary elections for offices including governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and others.
Voters also will decide the fate of four proposed constitutional amendments to the state Constitution as well as the outcome of several legislative and local elections. The Ouachita Citizen has published a guide to the constitutional amendments at www.ouachitacitizen.com and on Page 4A as well as a sample ballot on Pages 19A-20A.
Polls open at 7 a.m. and will remain open until 8 p.m.
In the event that no candidate secures more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary election, the top two vote-getters in a race will proceed to a run-off in November.
Nearly 12,000 people in Ouachita Parish cast votes during early voting for the primary, according to records released by the Secretary of State’s office. That’s more than double the number of votes (5,800) cast during early voting for the October 2015 primary election for governor.
Early voting also was robust statewide, compared to the October 2015 election that resulted in a run-off between now-Gov. John Bel Edwards and former U.S. Sen. David Vitter. Across the state, some 374,000 people cast votes during early voting for Saturday’s primary. In the October 2015 primary, some 222,000 votes were cast during early voting for the primary.
Edwards, a Democrat, is campaigning for his second term against two major Republican candidates: Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone and U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham.
Joshua Stockley, a professor of political science at the University of Louisiana-Monroe, says there are too many dynamics still at play to say whether voters can expect a run-off in the governor’s race.
“It’s hard to say because we don’t yet know what election will look like on election day,” Stockley said. “Even if early voting was heavy, that doesn’t mean the election turnout was heavy. Part of why estimating that is difficult is because in some areas you don’t have much, if any, local electoral competition.”
Other factors that might dampen voter turnout on Saturday could include Saturday’s contest between the LSU Tigers and Florida Gators at Death Valley in Baton Rouge.
“How many voters will be traveling to go to a football game?” Stockley said. “I have no doubt that college football has the potential to affect voting in the state of Louisiana.”
Another factor that might present a challenge for Edwards’ prospects was the low turnout among black voters during early voting.
Turnout among black voters across the state during early voting was slightly more than 25 percent (some 94,000 votes) of the total vote during early voting (some 374,000 votes). According to Stockley, it was widely known that 90 percent of black voters would vote for a Democrat.
“For a Democrat to get elected statewide in Louisiana and in the South, you have to have the highest possible African-American turnout,” Stockley said. “If the super majority of white voters are supporting a Republican, the only way to counter that Republican advantage among white voters is to have the highest possible African-American turnout.”
Though Edwards might experience a dip in support among black voters, Edwards also has support among white voters, Stockley said.
“His track record among whites is very strong,” Stockley said.
Besides Edwards, Rispone and Abraham, other candidates for governor include Oscar “Omar” Dantzler, Gary Landrieu, and Patrick “Live Wire” Landry.
Police Jury races
Ouachita Parish Police Juror Jack Clampit (District B) faces one challenger: Jimmy Tyson, a Republican from West Monroe.
Two people are vying to succeed Police Juror Walt Caldwell in District C: Larry Bratton, a Republican from the Frenchman Bend area in Monroe, and former Sterlington Town Council member Lucy Holtzclaw, a Republican.
Anna Reed and Michael Thompson Sr. are campaigning for the District D office. Each candidate is a Democrat from Monroe.
Six candidates are campaigning in the District F race: Donnie Bright, Roland Edwards, Lonnie Hudson, Sonja Smith-Schaffer, Clifford “Cliff” Thomas. Each are Democrats from Monroe. Verbon Muhammad Sr., who is registered as an independent, also is a candidate.
Three in clerk’s race
Three candidates are campaigning for Ouachita Parish Clerk of Court, including Deputy Clerk Dana Benson, an independent from West Monroe; LaKeisha Johnson, a Republican from Monroe; and state Sen. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe.
In the Senate’s 32nd District race, two Democratic candidates and two Republican candidates are vying to succeed Sen. Neil Riser, who was term-limited and could not seek re-election. The Democratic candidates include Danny Cole of Jena and Judy Duhon of Olla. The Republican candidates include Steve May of Columbia and Glen Womack of Harrisonburg.
Candidates campaigning to represent the state Senate’s 33rd District are Wade Bishop, a Republican from West Monroe, and Stewart Cathey Jr., a Republican from Sterlington.
In the Senate’s 35th District race, Rep. Jay Morris, R-Monroe, and Matt Parker, a Republican from Calhoun, are challenging the incumbent, Sen. Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro.
Three candidates are campaigning to represent the 16th District in the House of Representatives: Daryll Berry, of Monroe; Charles Bradford, of Bastrop; Alicia “Cocoa” Calvin, of Monroe; and Frederick Jones, of Monroe. They are each Democrats.
There are four candidates in the open race for the 15th District of the House of Representatives: Foy Gadberry, of Calhoun; Drake Graves, of Calhoun; Ryan Reid, of West Monroe; and Justin Tidwell, of West Monroe. They are each Republicans.
Ashley Ellis, of Monroe, and Stephen Chapman of Alexandria are campaigning for the District 5 seat on the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, or BESE. Each candidate is a Republican.
Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser will face one opponent: Willie Jones, a Democrat from New Orleans.
Attorney General Jeff Landry has one challenger: former assistant attorney general Ike Jackson Jr., a Democrat from Plaquemine.
Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin will face three challengers: Gwen Collins-Greenup, a Democrat from Clinton; Thomas Kennedy III, a Republican from Metairie, and Amanda “Jennings” Smith, a Republican from Bastrop.
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon faces one challenger: Insurance professional Tim Temple, a Republican from Baton Rouge.
Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain will face four opponents: Marguerite Green, a Democrat from New Orleans; Charlie Greer, a Democrat from Natchez; Peter Williams, a Democrat from Baton Rouge; and Bradley Zaunbrecher, a Republican from Egan.
State Treasurer John Schroder, a Republican, will face two opponents: Derrick Edwards, a Democrat from Harvey, and Teresa Kenny, an independent from New Orleans.