[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.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
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.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.
Now that lawmakers have shot down efforts to cap annual interest rates for payday loans, supporters for stricter regulations of the storefront lenders are rallying behind another strategy.