If you’re not a Republican, but you want to vote in the GOP’s closed primaries, then you have only two more days to visit your local registrar of voters. That’s because the Louisiana Republican Party will only allow Republicans to vote in their Aug. 28 primaries for the U.S. House and Senate.
The primaries scheduled by the state’s Democratic and Libertarian parties, meanwhile, will be open to unaffiliated voters, including those registered as other, independent or none. Republicans, however, will not be able to take part — that’s unless, of course, they change their party affiliation in time for next month’s closed primaries, which state law permits to happen up until close of business Wednesday afternoon.
Louisiana conducted open primaries for federal elections, where all candidates face off on a single ballot, until 2008. And, due to widespread confusion at the polls in recent years due to the closed primary system, the Legislature voted earlier this summer to return the state to a open system beginning in 2011. But for now, Louisiana has one last cycle under closed federal primaries.
In the 3rd Congressional District, which encompasses portions of Acadiana, each of the four candidates offers different attributes and strengths for their respective party primaries. None, though, are as well positioned as Houma attorney Ravi Sangisetty, who, as the only Democrat in the race, has already won his primary contest. As such, Sangisetty advances directly to the Nov. 2 ballot where he will face the victor of the Republican primary, which is considerably more crowded.
To be sure, the three Republicans in the 3rd District race are making a push to convert voters. For example, the campaign of Jeff Landry, a New Iberia attorney, has been e-mailing supporters for days about the upcoming deadline to change parties. “This is a critical election,” Landry wrote in one e-mail. “(President Barack) Obama and (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi’s liberal Congress continue to force their leftwing agenda down the throats of the American people. Their stimulus did not stimulate, and we still have an unemployment rate near 10 percent.” Landry, in particular, has been picking up support from the religious factions of his party, most recently securing the endorsement of the political arm of the National Family Research Council, a conservative, Christian-advocacy group. Landry’s campaign manager is also Phillip Joffrion, a former field director for Gov. Bobby Jindal who vacated his post as political director of the Louisiana Republican Party to join the campaign.
Former state House Speaker Hunt Downer, once a registered Democrat earlier in his political career, is directing voters on his Web site to the appropriate paperwork needed to switch parties. Downer, a Houma native, has found support among the state party’s traditional base — the Jefferson Parish Republican Party has already announced its backing — and he has received donations from many of the party’s biggest contributors. Kristian Magar, an oilfield manager from New Iberia and the final Republican in the race, is running a true grassroots campaign with financials that are significantly smaller than his opponents’, but he did receive the endorsement of America’s Independent Party Affiliates recently, which is a conservative offshoot of the GOP with a chapter in Louisiana.
Overall, the 3rd Congressional District includes more than 400,000 voters, of which 223,500 are Democrat, 86,400 are Republican and 93,000 are defined as “other.” The 139,000 voters in Lafayette Parish include 57,600 Democrats, 45,500 Republicans and 36,000 other-party voters.
The Aug. 28 election will also play host to closed primaries for the U.S. Senate race. There are three Republican candidates, including Nick J. Accardo, Chet Traylor and incumbent U.S. Sen. David Vitter. The Democratic Party has three candidates, including Neeson J. Chauvin, Jr., Cary J. Deaton and U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, who is vacating the 3rd Congressional District to make his bid. For the first time in Louisiana history, the Libertarian Party also has two candidates for a primary election, including Anthony Gentile and Randall Todd Hayes. William R. McShan was the only candidate who qualified for the Reform Party and will progress to the November general election, even though his party would normally be allowed to hold a closed primary.
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.