Qualifying has closed and the races are on for the October 12, primary election. There were no real surprises on the state level. Governor John Bel Edwards is opposed by two principle candidates, Congressman Ralph Abraham, who currently lags behind in fundraising, and Eddie Rispone who is self-funding his campaign. Governor Edwards is in the lead and could pull off a first primary victory if his two chief rivals don’t soon catch the attention of voters. Based on current television advertising, Governor Edwards is the clear winner. Governor Edwards points out his accomplishments. Mr. Rispone’s advertising makes clear he supports President Trump while Mr. Abraham’s television is the most bizarre of all. In neither case does Mr. Abraham or Mr. Rispone, except in very overly broad terms, say what he will do for Louisiana. I suspect that these ads will change soon with a clearer message geared to Louisiana and not the current ones geared for a run for a U. S. Senate or House seat. The other statewide races see the incumbents as clear favorites except in the race for Insurance Commissioner where Commissioner Jim Donelon is facing a challenge from a well-financed candidate, Tim Temple. Both are Republicans.
There are a number of House and Senate races with several candidates elected without opposition. In the other races, many of them, there are very clear front runners who will likely be victorious on election day. The other races remain competitive.
Locally, Parish President Mike Yenni chose not to seek re-election. Voters are quite happy with the status quo in Jefferson Parish, but the texting scandal has cost Mike Yenni a bid for an easy second term. Occasionally, time heals all wounds and that may happen for Mr. Yenni and if it does it will be quite a comeback. In the meantime, he can focus on his family and his third child who is on the way.
Sheriff Joe Lopinto picked up a second opponent in the closing minutes of qualifying when former candidate John Fortunato qualified to run once again for Sheriff. The race is overshadowed by media reports that emissaries of Mr. Fortunato solicited the support of Sheriff Lopinto to assist Mr. Fortunato in securing the job as Chief of Police for the Causeway. The disturbing part as reported by local media was that Sheriff Lopinto was told that, if he helps Mr. Fortunato land the Causeway job, he, Mr. Fortunato, would not run against Sheriff Lopinto. According to the media Sheriff Lopinto reported this matter to federal and state law enforcement agencies. If media reports are accurate and this did happen, federal and state law enforcement agencies should step in and send a loud message that the people of Jefferson Parish don’t condone political bribery.
Council member Dominick Impastato will sail through his re-election bid. Council woman Jennifer Van Vrancken picked up a last-minute opponent, a neighbor who lives just blocks from Ms. Van Vrancken. Heavily favored to be re-elected, Ms. Van Vrancken’s opponent will have a lot of ground to make up if she wants to defeat the popular incumbent.
District 1 Councilman Ricky Templet is heavily favored to win an at-large seat on the parish council; and, unless Scott Walker, a former WDSU news anchor, can put together the money needed to pay for an expensive parish wide council at large race, the current District 2 councilman, Paul Johnston, will be the favorite to win his bid to move to the other at large seat on the parish council. The other district council races, Districts 1, 2, and especially 3, should be very competitive.
As always at this time in the election calendar, the race everyone will be watching is the race for governor. Governor Edwards is in control at this time. His television advertising is strong and sends a much clearer message about his accomplishments including pulling Louisiana out from under a $2 billion deficit and turning that deficit into a surplus. His opponents will no doubt say that the state’s current surplus shows that taxes are too high, but that argument makes no sense. Isn’t it better to have a few dollars left over at the end of the year, than to have to go into more debt to pay bills? Isn’t it better to have a surplus rather than an out of control deficit that put higher education, elementary and secondary education, infrastructure construction and repair, and health care at financial risk? Isn’t Louisiana better off with TOPS fully funded rather than with it only partially funded or threatened with elimination?
These questions will be answered during the campaign, and voters will make those choices. Let’s hope a strong future for Louisiana wins out on election night.
August 12, 2019