[Editor's Note: This blog has been updated to correct inaccurate poll numbers from Ortego's 2007 bid for District 39 state rep., as well as to omit the word 'Cajun' from Ortego's platform of French preservation in Louisiana.]
Mary Landrieu. Chris John. Cleo Fields. And now Stephen Ortego.
Saturday’s eye-popping victory in the House District 39 race, in which Carencro Democrat Stephen Ortego unexpectedly delivered a 10-point win over St. Landry Parish President Don Menard, has earned Ortego a shared spot on the political history bookshelf with some of the most influential Louisiana politicians of late.
At 27 years old, Ortego will be the youngest serving member of the state House when it convenes next year, as were U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and former U.S. Reps. Chris John and Cleo Fields when they were each elected to the Louisiana Legislature.
Ortego secured 55 percent of the vote Saturday in what was arguably one of the biggest upsets in Acadiana legislative races.
“We expected to win. We just didn’t expect to win by that much,” Ortego says. “We could feel it on the ground in the last week. People started really supporting the campaign.”
Menard held endorsements from key statewide industry groups, U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, Gov. Bobby Jindal and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, as well as large-scale contributions from the latter two.
Ortego says the financial boost he received from the Louisiana Democratic Party was standard for a legislative race, but nowhere near the amount of money Menard received Jindal and Vitter.
“We knew we weren’t going to get that kind of money, so we had to be smart about the money we did receive,” Ortego explains. “I think getting out and talking to people really laid out a foundation.”
Ortego ran for the District 39 seat in 2007, placing third in the primary election and failing to secure a runoff. This year, Ortego took 35 percent of the primary vote to face Menard in the runoff. Current state Rep. Bobby Badon did not seek re-election.
Unlike Louisiana heavyweights Landrieu and John, whose fathers both held high public offices in Louisiana, Ortego’s only DNA ties to the Legislature stem from his great grandfather, a former state representative.
As for what’s to come, Ortego’s answer echoes from one of his biggest campaign platforms — preservation of French Louisiana culture.
“C’est pas fini,” he says.
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WaPo Watergate editor Ben Bradlee dies; Clintons stump for Dems; Liberians stranded and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 22, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
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Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
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Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.