[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.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, April 23, 2014:
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.
State Rep. Stuart Bishop says he’s concerned with the quality of Capitol Lake, but when it comes to Louisiana’s coastline, this Lafayette Republican doesn't seem to give a damn.
Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.
Louisiana lawmakers are entering the second half of their three-month regular legislative session, which must end by June 2. Where some of the major issues stand:
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.