Thanksgiving Open Thread for November 25-27, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. First off, please give a big virtual round of applause to Roguemapper for his wonderful help in getting some of the technological kinks worked out of our website. Some key improvements he’s been able to provide include getting rid of the dummy welcome diary at the top of the front-page, the ability to nest comment threads more than 5 deep, the ability to format paragraphs in comments, and a list of recent user diaries on the right sidebar. Stay tuned for further improvements. Many thanks to Roguemapper for his help!

Also, check back for a policy thread tomorrow and check out our 5th Annual Turkey of the Year Awards if you haven’t already. In the meantime, some questions:

1. What type of situation would it take (in candidate qualities, issue positions, or type of election) for you to actively support a candidate of the opposite party?

2. What are you thankful for politically?

And because it’s Thanksgiving….“As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly”


5th Annual RRH Elections Turkey of the Year Awards

This is probably our favorite post to write each year, our Thanksgiving tradition in which we give due recognition to those great pols who fell flat on their faces most spectacularly (and humorously) over the last year.

Honorable Mentions:

Hillary Clinton, for not realizing her server was going rogue and improperly storing classified emails.

Scott Walker, for going from presidential front-runner to has-been in record time. We would have liked to see that wall down the middle of Lake Superior though.

Frank Guinta, for his verbal gymnastics in covering up his parents’ improper funding of his campaign. It wasn’t an improper donation. He embezzled that money from his family fair and square!

Chaka Fattah, for managing to parlay a fizzled mayoral run into a decade-long corruption scheme.

Dianna Duran, for using her campaign money to feed a gambling addiction while campaigning on a promise to clean up the office charged with monitoring elections. Guess she didn’t know when to walk away and when to run.

Troy Kelley, for building a business career out of embezzling money from customers and then managing to win election to an office charged with rooting out fraud.

Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos, for pulling the impressive feat of having both of a state’s legislative leaders, from different parties, indicted in the same year for corruption. If they share a cell they can be two of the Three Men in a Room again.

Bill deBlasio, for being Bill deBlasio.

Named Awards:

Atturkeys General: Two strong contenders in this category. Ken Paxton deserves a mention for not lasting a year in office before getting hit with a fraud indictment, but of course it’s impossible to beat Kathleen Kane, who continues to hang onto office by her fingernails despite being disbarred and thus no longer being an attorney. Perhaps we should just rename her office to the Defendant General.

Turkey Party of the Year: We had a competitive race for this award. The runner-up is the Mississippi Democrats, who had two respectable sacrifical lambs to choose from for Governor, and passed them both over for a candidate who didn’t campaign, raise money… or vote for himself. But as strong a challenge as the MSDP put up, our Turkey Party of the Year has to go to the UK Labour Party. After nominating a radical left-wing and personally awkward leader that got them flattened in a second straight general election, they decided their problem was that their leader wasn’t radical or awkward enough. Jeremy Corbyn is sure to provide much amusement in the years ahead.

The Charlie Crist Award for party-switching goes to Artur Davis, for attempting to come crawling back to one of the most anemic parties in the country (Alabama Democrats) and being rebuffed.

The Martha Coakley Award for campaign ineptitude goes to Nassau GOP machine hack extraordinaire Kate Murray. Despite being the well-regarded quasi-mayor for half the county, she couldn’t come up with a better rationale for becoming DA than it being her turn, and lost to an unheralded Democrat despite the legendary Nassau GOP machine backing.

The Bill Clinton Award for Philandering goes jointly to Michigan State Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat. Two married legislators having an affair think its a good idea to concoct a fake gay sex scandal so the real heterosexual thing won’t seem as bad. You’d be laughed out of any publisher if you tried to sell that as a story.

The Dan Quayle Award for Gaffe of the Year was hotly contested, with three strong contenders:

2nd runner up is Jack Conway, who aptly brought up his bitch as an example of his commitment to women’s rights.

1st runner-up for this award is Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who decided to give rioters space to destroy her city.

But the winner is Kevin McCarthy. Everybody thought he was unbeatable to become Speaker of the House, right? But then he put together a Benghazi committee.

Turkey of the Year:

And now, the 2015 Turkey of the Year. Their name will be inscribed on our wall of birdbrains, joining these illustrious honorees:

2014: Bruce Braley | 2013: Anthony Weiner | 2012: Todd Akin | 2011: Anthony Weiner

Our 2nd Runner Up is John Kitzhaber, for acting out a positively Shakespearean drama on the people of Oregon by allowing his fiancee to manipulate state resources to benefit her sham marriage, er, marijuana farm, er, environmental consulting operation.

Our 1st Runner Up is David Vitter, for not seeing that Louisiana was giving him a red light despite his activities in that district.

And our 2015 Turkey of the Year is… Aaron Schock. It’s hard to turn a fluff-piece about your office decor into a career-ending scandal, but DC’s foremost Downton Abbey fan did just that. After his office servants turned away a Style section reporter looking to do a story on the stately manor’s decor, they started digging and found the lord of the manor playing fast and loose with the estate’s funds. And I thought watching PBS was supposed to make you smarter.


Political Roundup for November 24, 2015

Please check back for our Turkey of the Year Awards this afternoon.


Carson:  Is Ben Carson’s plain-spoken, down to earth oddly joking style of speech really driving his campaign?  Carson is an unusual candidate to start with, but his speaking furthers it.

Cruz/Rubio:  Two serious candidates are actually battling it for the mantle of serious candidate in Iowa, Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.  Cruz is viewed as having an advantage in Iowa, but Rubio is viewed as having a stronger organization nationally.

Trump:  Speaking of speaking styles, there is one candidate whose campaign rhetoric fits the song “Lips are movin.”  In case you were wonder, Trump said recently that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheered the 9/11 attacks and claims he has the best memory in the world.

Clinton:  Another candidate which “Lips are movin” applies is moving to the right on ISIS.  Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is trying to open some space between herself and President Barack Obama on handling of the Syria situation.  Someone should ask her about her role in handling this disaster considering she was Secretary of State when it really got rolling.


FL-18: The DCCC has lost their preferred candidate, Melissa McKinlay, to replace Representative Patrick Murphy (D).  McKinlay, a Palm Beach County Commissioner, was forced out when millionaire self-funder Randy Perkins entered the race for the Democratic nomination to replace Murphy.


Falklands / Argentina: The hardy people of the Falkland Islands are celebrating the election of Mauricio Macri as Argentine President and the retirement of the infamous “Botox Queen” who frequently threatened the Falklands.  Macri is not going to give up Argentina’s baseless claim to the islands, but he does not appear to want to rattle the saber any time he suffers a domestic problem.

RNC/DNC:  The RNC nearly outraised the DNC 2 to 1 in October.  The RNC raised $8.7 million while the DNC raised $4.5 million.  This has been the consistent pattern throughout the year for the national committees.

ND-Gov:  Former Agricultural Commissioner Sarah Vogel (D) has formed an exploratory committee for a run for Governor.  She served two terms from 1989 to 1997.


LA-Sen: Boustany and Fleming In

We have confirmation from both Reps. Charles Boustany (R) and John Fleming (R) that they will, as expected, enter the race for Vitter’s open seat.

Boustany and Fleming are probably the front-runners in the race right there, as they represent different areas of the state and strongly different factions of the GOP. Fleming is a grassroots favorite and considered more antiestablishment, while Boustany is more establishment-oriented and was a close ally of former Speaker Boehner. We at RRH also have Boustany on our blacklist for his horrendous attempt to screw over his colleagues in the delegation during the 2012 redistricting (he promoted a plan that would have put Fleming’s seat at risk of a D pickup.) Two other serious contenders expected to enter this race are State Treasurer John Kennedy, a populist who cuts an unusual ideological profile, and veteran and 2014 candidate Rob Maness (R), whose antiestablishment posturing probably cuts mostly into Fleming’s vote share. Several other candidates are also rumored to be interested. On the D side, the picture is far murkier, but New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) is rumored to be considering. Other Dem possibilities could include ex-US Attorney and ex-Rep. Don Cazayoux (D), Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D), and State Sen. Eric LaFleur (D).

Both of the newly-open congressional seats should stay safely in GOP hands. Boustany’s LA-3 is an R+15 seat stretching from Lafayette to Lake Charles. Public Service Commissioner, 2015 Gov candidate, and ex-LG Scott Angelle (R) is probably the instant front-runner for the seat, but he has alienated some Republicans with his hostile neutral stance in the runoff phase of the race. Angelle may also decide to run for Senate instead, which would leave the field wide-open. Other names to watch are outgoing State House Speaker Chuck Kleckley (R), who could draw votes from the Lake Charles side of the district, and Lafayette Mayor Joey Durel (R). Around 6 GOP State Senators and 10 GOP State Reps. also live in the district.

Fleming’s LA-4 is an R+11 seat based around Shreveport; though Dems did come close to taking the seat in 2008 it has gotten more inelastic since then and should stay in Republican hands barring something massively unexpected. State Rep. Alan Seabaugh (R), an antiestablishment conservative who briefly considered a Senate bid last year, is a name to watch and would probably be a front-runner if he entered. 2008 candidate Chris Gorman (R), a trucking company exec, could try again, as could another Fleming ’08 opponent, Judge and ex-State Rep. Jeff Thompson (R). Four Republican State Senators and about 8 other Republican State Reps. live in the district.


Political Roundup for November 23rd, 2015

Programming Announcement: Our annual Turkey of the Year awards will be out tomorrow afternoon.

Election Results

In the main event, Democrat and State Rep. John Bel Edwards won the gubernatorial race over US Senator David Vitter (R).

Further down, Nungesser (R) easily defeated Holden (D) for Lt. Governor, and one-time RRH favorite and former Rep Jeff Landry (R) returned to office as Attorney General over a more moderate Republican.

While three incumbent State House Republicans lost their seats to same-party challengers, Democrats made no gains in the lower house. In the Senate, John Malkovich Milkovich (D) surprisingly picked up SD-38, while Republicans picked up SD-12. The net change in the legislature is D+1 in the Senate (thanks to Dems getting back party-switcher Elbert Guillory’s seat) and R+2 in the House.


Trump Shot: First former RNC operative (from relative ages ago in 2008 in political terms) Liz Mair is working to form “Trump Card LLC” as an umbrella for anti-Trump efforts in the primary (you can see a non paywall version here).

Trump Chaser: Because of this supposed chicanery from “the RNC” (that is, a former official in an organization dominated by presidential cycles), Trump is now arguing he now has grounds to go back on his pledge not to run third party if he is not “treated fairly.”


LA-Sen: In the wake of the Louisiana runoff, Vitter announced Saturday in his concession speech that he would retire from the Senate at the end of his term. The announcement was not very surprising, with clear statewide weakness exposed and an anemic warchest in his Senate account. Now the weekly news cycle is gearing up, so expect the Great Mentioner to whir into action. James added his own take on the Great Mentioner in the link.

MD-Sen: A poll by the University of Baltimore and the Baltimore Sun finds Rep. Chris Van Hollen leading colleague Donna Edwards 45%-31% in the Democratic primary. Like other polls of the race, it found that Rep. Elijah Cummings would lead if he jumped into the fray. Van Hollen’s lead is likely fueled by early advertising, while Cummings would dominate as the only Baltimore candidate.


MA-Gov / MA-6: Some speculate about a possible 2018 gubernatorial run by freshman Rep. Seth Moulton (D) against Governor Charlie Baker (R). Moulton recently tussled with Baker of Syrian refugee policy. Baker has racked up impressive favorable ratings out of the gate, but Moulton’s moderate image and record as a war hero is nothing to scoff at. However, even against a strong general election opponent it’s not like Democrats are lacking a bench in the Bay State, so Moulton might not get a clean shot even if he does actually want to run.

RGA: New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez was elected Chairwoman of the Republican Governors Association this weekend for 2016. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will serve as a Vice-Chair as well.


NY-19: All eleven Democratic county chairs signed onto a letter Friday calling on Ulster County Executive Mike Hein (D) to run for the open congressional seat. Republicans already have a few high-profile candidates for the seat, including former Assemblyman and 2006 gubernatorial candidate John Faso and Assemblyman Pete Lopez.

NY-22: Rep. Richard Hanna (R) faces a real threat on his right flank in his primary, but now he’ll have to watch the left as well. State Assemblyman An­thony Brind­isi (D) is considering entering the race. Obviously the calculus is he hopes Hanna’s challenger, colleague Claudia Tenney (R), wins the primary and forces an opening, but warm bodies always make elections more dangerous.

TX-15: Two new Democrats are entering the race to replace the retiring Hinojosa: attorney Vicente Gonzalez and Edinburg school board member  Sonny Palacios Jr. Perhaps more importantly, two Democrats will not run for the seat: Hidalgo District Clerk Laura Hinojosa, the daughter of the outgoing congressman, and exiting Edinburg City Manager Ramiro Garza.

State and Local

MN-Leg: We didn’t mention it when it happened, but on the 14th Andy Aplikowski won the Republican endorsement for the SD-35 special election over moderate former State Rep. Jim Abeler. This one will go to a primary between the two on January 12th.

OK-Leg / WATN: Once upon a time John Tyler Hammons (R) was one of those candidates elected who draw news stories due to their young age; in 2008, he was elected Mayor of Muskogee at the ripe young age of 19. He is now running for the State Senate; while the seat (SD-9) is R+7, it is Democratic-held. However, Muskogee comprises a big chunk of the district, giving Hammons another shot at the spotlight.

PA-Leg: More internecine fighting between rival Philadelphia factions, this time between Kevin Boyle (brother of the congressman) and state Sen. John Sabatina (ally of Lt. Gov. Mike Stack); at stake is SD-5, the State Senate seat covering their mutual Northeast Philly turf.

TX-Leg: Kind of a twofer burn here. On the one hand, attorney and State Rep. Ron Reynolds (D) was finally convicted of ambulance chasing after a sting in 2013. On the other hand, Reynolds is an attorney who lost after representing himself. The state representative will be hiring some outside help for the appeal. While he plans to run for re-election, he did admit the conviction may lure out a primary opponent.


Argentina: Peronism Kirchnerism goes down in Argentina as Conservative Mauricio Macri won yesterday’s presidential runoff.

UK: An upcoming by-election in Oldham West on December 3rd will elect a Labour MP to the seat, but the numbers have sunk far enough to give some party apparatchiks a major scare. Compare this to one-off special elections where Republicans over-performed in Democratic seats under special circumstances; people like to read big trends in solitary elections.



LA-Sen: Vitter Retiring

Vitter just announced in his concession speech he is retiring.

Potential Republican candidates:

Reps. Charles Boustany and John Fleming- both almost certain to run

Treasurer John Kennedy- also very likely, although may want to run for Governor in 2019 instead

Col. Rob Maness- Also very likely, will only serve to peel votes from Fleming

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise- not particularly likely, but could see he has no room for advancement in leadership for the foreseeable future. Also a potential Gov. candidate in 2019

Scott Angelle- will look at this and LA-03. LA-03 would almost be a slam-dunk, and he could follow the Jindal path to Gov. Expect news on his decision this week


PSC Commissioner Foster Campbell

NOLA Mayor Mitch Landrieu



2015 Louisiana Runoff Liveblog

Sunday Morning Update: By now you know Edwards (D) won 56-44 for Gov. Nungesser (R) and Landry (R) won LG and AG respectively by similar margins.

State Senate: D+1, as Dems picked up a surprising win in SD-38 with John Milkovich (D). Republicans picked up SD-12, a liberal D won over a moderate in SD-7, and an antiestablishment R won in SD-36.

State House: R+2, as no more seats changed hands. Three more Republican State Reps lost though to same party challengers: Joe Harrison (LD-51), Lenar Whitney (LD-53), and Darrell Ourso (LD-66).

BESE: Split decision here as the business ed-reform group ousted an incumbent in district 4 and the union-backed candidate won in district 6. Final balance will by 7-1 in favor of the pro-ed reform side.

10:09 ET- Looking down ballot, Lt. Gov was called long ago for Nungesser and I’m ready to call AG for Landry. He’ll be talked up heavily, along with Garret Graves, Scott Angelle, and John Kennedy for Gov in 2019.

In the Legislature:

Moderate Democrat Jeff Arnold up 56-44 in SD 7, with 17% in. Republican Beth Mizell up 55-45 in SD 12, which would be a GOP pickup. Mizell will win, as the parts that remain out are 75%+ Republican precincts. Ryan Gatti up 52-48 over Henry Burns in SD 36 with 59% in. John Milkovich (D) up 53-47 over Richie Burford ( R) in SD 38, with 71% in. Looking like a possible Dem pickup, offset by Mizell in SD 12.

Hill (D) looking likely to win re-election in HD 32. AB Franklin (D) holding on in HD 34 with 52% and 88% reporting. Jean Paul-Cousson narrowly won the R-on-R race in HD 45, with 51%. Conservative Amedee up over moderate Harrison 52-48 in HD 51. Lenar Whitney going down hard in HD 53, 61-39. Rick Edmonds looks likely to beat moderate incumbent Ourso, up 51-49 with 58% in and doing well on election day votes. Davis (R) up 56-44 over Heck (R) in HD 69 with 61% reporting. Garafalo (R) looks like he will hold on in HD 103, he’s up 52-48 with 89% in.

10:03 ET- And local news is calling the race for Edwards. Look for a coalition led legislature, likely with Republican Rep. Joe Lopinto, Bryan Adams, or Chris Broadwater as House Speaker, and it will not be a pretty coalition for Louisiana conservatives.

9:55 ET- Over 537,000 votes now, Edwards up 56-44. Almost ready to call it, but Vitter still has decent areas out and looks to have improved on election day votes. Nungesser and Landry are tracking amazingly close together, with Nungesser and Holden having about 10k more votes each than Landry and Caldwell, respectively.

9:34 ET- Up to 260,000 votes, Edwards holding steady at 57-43. Still nothing from Orleans.

 ET- We’ve got over 200,000 votes in and it is still Edwards up 58% to 42% over Vitter. Nungesser and Landry still leading.

9:05 ET- With a 7 of 3945 precincts reporting Edwards is up 58% to 42%. Nungesser is at 57% and Landry is leading 52-48.

9:00 ET- Polls have now closed in the Pelican State. The liveblog may be infrequently updated in the early part of the evening as we have multiple editors (shamlet, BostonPatriot, Izengabe and editor-emeritus James) who have only sporadic availability at the moment; thus the four of us will be tag-teaming to update. Thanks for your patience. In the meantime please enjoy this:

Results: AP | Louisiana SoS


Weekend Open Thread for November 20-22, 2015

Welcome to the end of a long week, folks.  We’re all looking forward to a short week next week.

Here are some questions to get the weekend started–

  1.  Assume Rubio or Cruz gets the nomination.  Who should either one of them pick as a running mate?
  2.  Is there a portion of the conservative base (libertarian pro-immigration voters) who will stay home next year because of anger about the GOP Governors’ stance on Syrian refugees?

And because it’s the weekend, here’s this video.


Political Roundup for November 20, 2015

Tomorrow is Election Day in Louisiana. The best preview of all the Louisiana runoff races is available here. If you can’t wait until the results come in tomorrow you can see how things will turn out by checking out RRH Elections exclusive Louisiana Poll! We had State Representative John Bel Edwards (D) leading US Senator David Vitter (R) by 6 points, 48-42. In the race for Lieutenant Governor, Billy Nungesser (R) led Kip Holden (D), 43-29. In the race for Attorney General, Jeff Landry (R) led incumbent Buddy Caldwell (R) 45-24.


Hillary: Hillary Clinton’s campaign ordered a comedy club not to make fun of her! After the Hollywood’s Laugh Factory posted a three-minute video of comedians telling jokes about Hillary Clinton on its website, the Clinton campaign called the club and demanded that it take the video down and give them the personal contact information of every single comic who appeared in it. Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada also stated that the campaign actually threatened to put the club out of business if he did not heed their demands. You can see the offending video which has been re-titled “Hillary Clinton vs the 1st Amendment” HERE.

Sanders: Bernie Sanders gave a big speech at Georgetown University explaing his plan for huge tax increase and forced wealth distribution “Democratic Socialism”. Sanders claims his “democratic socialism” will have fewer gulags than all the other versions of socialism the world has seen.

O’Malley: Martin O’Malley has scored the endorsement of a former Democrat Presidential candidate. Unfortunately, for O’Malley the endorsement is from 8 time presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche. O’Malley’s campaign spokesperson put out a statement rejecting the LaRouche endorsement.

Carson: Is Dr. Ben Carson uninformed on the issues of foreign policy? A major kerfuffle has rocked his campaign since a New York Times article featuring Carson adviser Duane Clarridge implied that Carson didn’t understand enough about foreign policy.

Carson: The award for worst analogy goes to Ben Carson who compared Syrian migrants to rabid dogs.


KY-Gov: Cartoonist at the Lexington Herald attacked Gov-elect Matt Bevin (R) for his stance on Syrian migrants with a low blow cartoon which used Bevin’s 4 adopted children from Ethiopia to imply that Bevin is a coward and a racist.


NV-Senate: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D) is under investigation by Utah county prosecutors in relation to a “pay-to-play” scheme that involved two former Utah attorneys general, John Shurtleff and John Swallow. Shurtleff and Swallow were arrested last summer after prosecutors said the men engaged in a wide-ranging, pay-to-play scheme where they traded favors with businessmen in trouble with regulators during their combined 13 years running the state office. Sen. Reid is not seeking re-election in 2016.

WI-Sen: The latest Marquett University Law School Poll has former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) leading incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R) 50% to 36%.


IN-2: Democrats might have finally found a warm body to run against Rep. Jackie Walorski (R). Democrat Lynn Coleman, a former investigative division chief with South Bend police is eyeing a run against Walorski in this R+6 district. After a surprisingly close loss to Rep Joe Donnelly (D) in the 2010 GOP wave, Walorski won a close election to an open seat in 2012 before coasting to an easy re-election in 2014.

State, Local & Other:

IL-Redistricting: The Independent Maps coalition announced they have collected more than 400,000 signatures to put their proposed state constitutional amendment on the ballot. Their proposal would create a special independent commission to draw state legislative districts in Illinois. Illinois is notorious for their partisan gerrymandered districts. Last November Democrats (who drew the district lines) won 60% of state House races  (71 of 118) but only 50.6% of votes cast statewide in state House races. In the Senate Democrats won 58% of  races  (11 of 19 ) while winning only 45.6% of votes cast statewide. Considering the natural self pack of statewide Democrats in Chicago this is a pretty remarkable feat. While only 290,000 valid signatures are needed to put the measure on the ballot, the Independent Maps coalition wants to collect over 600,000 signatures to fend off any challenges. If you live in Illinois and want to sign or help collect signatures for the effort you can get more information on the petition drive here.

PA-Supreme Court: Voters in the April 2016 Pennsylvania primaries will also decide on a proposed Constitutional amendment that would raise the mandatory retirement age of Pennsylvania State Supreme Court Justices from 70 to 75 years old.

Montgomery County, AL County Commission: An Alabama Judge has dismissed the suit brought by former Rep. Artur Davis (D,R,D?) in which sought to overturn a decision by Alabama Democrats that barred him from returning to the Democrat Party to run for office. As a result Davis will not be allowed to run as a Democrat for the Montgomery County Commission.


2015 Louisiana Runoff Preview

Today we’re previewing this Saturday’s Runoff Election in Louisiana. Polls close at 9ET and we’ll be liveblogging. Three Statewide Offices are up for grabs; please check out our exclusive poll for complete data. A number of Legislative seats are also heading to second rounds, though almost all are one-party affairs and it’s hard to peg any highly competitive interparty races.

RRH has made the following Race Ratings Changes since our last look at these races in October, both in favor of Democrats:

LA-Gov Lean D from Lean R || LA-LG Likely R from Safe R

Additionally, we are putting LA-AG on the intraparty board at Likely Landry.

LA-Gov: For most of this race, State Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) was something of a footnote. The state house minority leader was widely considered a “C” list candidate who Democrats turned to by default after bigger names like New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu declined to run. For much of the campaign, Edwards was considered to have almost no chance to win and was thought to even be a long-shot to make the runoff. However, Edwards’s strategy of laying low for much of the race seems to have paid unexpected dividends, as he was able to consolidate the Democratic vote and finish a comfortable first in the primary with 40%. Edwards is very much Generic Louisiana D, a fiscal moderate and social conservative, which is a profile that has historically played well in the Deep South. However, Louisiana is deep red and trending even further right (as we saw in Sen. Bill Cassidy’s 2014 win) and Edwards was not considered to have the kind of crossover appeal needed to beat a strong Republican in the runoff. What has changed that dynamic is the somewhat unexpected weakness of Edwards’s rival, US Sen. David Vitter (R). Vitter was for several years considered to be the presumptive Governor-elect, with a massive statewide machine that he has used to push the legislature in a more antiestablishment populist-conservative direction. Indeed, Vitter has acted as something of a shadow governor in recent years, stymieing many of the initiatives of Gov. Bobby Jindal (R). But Vitter has always carried a massive piece of baggage: the 2007 revelation that he had patronized the “DC Madam” prostitution ring while he was in the House around 2000. Vitter was able to move past the issue in 2010 and keep his Senate seat by leveraging his opposition to Obama, but those issues have proven less salient in a statewide race and voters who supported him on ideology in 2010 now seem to be increasingly uneasy with his character. Additionally, the feud between Vitter and Jindal (which has become something of a Mexican standoff, with a third faction loyal to LG Jay Dardenne (R)) has split the party wide open. Both of Vitter’s Republican rivals in the first round have pointedly refused to endorse him, and one, Dardenne, has gone so far to outright endorse Edwards. For his part, Edwards has been content to munch the popcorn and run as “not Vitter”, and that strategy has garnered him enough crossover support to burst out to a consistent lead in polling. In recent days, there does seem to be a sense that some Republicans may be coming around to choosing ideology over personality and holding their nose for Vitter; our poll showed Edwards with a relatively modest 48-42 edge. But it seems like it will be too little, too late for the Senator to fully overcome his personal issues and Edwards still seems on course for a modest victory. RRH currently rates this race as Lean D.

LA-LG: The #2 race on the statewide ballot looks far less competitive than the Governor’s race. Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden (D) was the only Democrat in the primary field and had a generally well-regarded tenure as mayor of the state’s second-largest city. However, he has compiled a liberal record that makes his candidacy a tough sale in the conservative state, fundraised poorly, and scarcely garnered a third of the vote against three Republicans in October. Unlike his running mate at the top of the ticket, he also does not have the luxury of facing an unusually personally toxic Republican rival. Plaquemines CE Billy Nungesser (R) came up short in his 2010 bid for the LG seat, but edged into the runoff over his rival, Jefferson CE John Young (R), on a combination of a populist platform and name recognition from his leadership efforts during the BP oil spill. Nungesser has been very well-funded, and as an inoffensive mainstream conservative in the deep red state, is heavily favored over Holden; our poll had him leading 43-29. However, if Edwards is winning the gubernatorial race by a large margin there’s a slight chance a Dem wave could sweep Holden in, so we’ll play it safe and call this a Likely race. RRH currently rates this race as Likely R.

LA-AG: Incumbent Buddy Caldwell (R) switched from D to R just before his 2011, but has done a poor job of cultivating ties with his adopted party. Caldwell ran unopposed in 2011, but his moderate stances have spelled significant trouble for him this year. Ex-Rep. Jeff Landry (R), a staunch conservative who served one term in the House before losing a redistricting-induced 2012 primary, is trying for a comeback by running against Caldwell. Landry has garnered most Republican establishment support, including the official backing of the LAGOP. Initially the results of the October primary did not look promising for Landry, as he trailed Caldwell 35-33 with most of the remainder going to Democrats who might be more amenable to the moderate Caldwell. However, Landry has defied expectations over the last few weeks, shifting from a more ideological campaign to one hitting Caldwell on nonpartisan ethics issues regarding his running of the office and his cozy relationship with the unpopular state political establishment. As a result, Landry surprisingly received a key crossover endorsement from the third-place Democrat in the race and seems to be accumulating a surprising amount of crossover support. In our poll, Landry posted a broad lead over Caldwell, 45-24. It seems very unlikely Caldwell could win this race without a game-changer, but intraparty general elections can be somewhat hard to predict so we should say that Caldwell has a slight chance to pull a major upset. RRH currently rates this race as Safe R and Likely Landry.

State Senate: 4 State Senate seats are going to a second round, two of them intraparty (one D-on-D, one R-on-R) and two interparty. Dems picked up a seat in October, so depending on the results the State Senate could shiftt D+0 to D+2 from its current 26R-13D breakdown.

SD-7 is a D+15 seat based in the Algiers section of New Orleans and covering some suburban areas on the Westbank. Former New Orleans councilman Troy Carter (D), a mainstream liberal with most of the party establishment’s backing, led the first round 37-33. Carter is now in a runoff with State Rep. Jeff Arnold (D), a moderate Dem backed by some blue-collar unions. This one looks like the most competitive Senate race this week and there is no clear favorite.
SD-12 is an R+18 (but D-held) seat at the northeast corner of the state, stretching from Bogalusa to Kentwood. 2011 nominee Beth Mizell (R) is favored to win the seat she lost by 1% last time over retired community college dean Mickey Murphy (D). Mizell led the first-round 43-33, with another Republican taking 21%. Murphy’s only chance is if Edwards is winning the seat by a huge margin and bringing out a lot of straight-ticket Dems, which is a possibility but still somewhat unlikely.
SD-36 is an R+23 seat covering suburban and rural areas east of Shreveport around Minden. State Rep. Henry Burns (R) led antiestablishment-oriented businessman Ryan Gatti (R) 40-34 in the first round, with a Dem receiving the remainder. As Burns should have more crossover appeal he seems to be fairly strongly favored.
SD-38 is an R+12 seat covering Shreveport’s southern suburbs and some rural areas to the south. State Rep. Henry Burford (R), an antiestablishment conservative, is headed to a runoff with Conservadem attorney John Milkovich (D), who has extensive trial lawyer and evangelical support.  Burford led the first round 35-33 and Republicans took 57% here, but Milkovich could have a chance to pull the upset if Edwards is winning the district by a significant margin.

State House: 14 State House seats are also up for grabs, but 12 of the 14 are intraparty affairs. The primary netted R+2 from the current 58R-43D-2I, meaning the net change could be R+1 to R+3.

LD-29 is a D+30 seat covering the North side of Baton Rouge and the suburb of Port Allen across the river. Baton Rouge councilwoman Ronnie Edwards (D) led 2011 candidate Edmond Jordan (D) 36-29 in the first round. A key issue in the race has been Edwards’s diagnosis two years ago of pancreatic cancer, which she says is in remission but has caused her to miss council meetings. Jordan has made Edwards’s health an issue; it’s unclear which way that will play.
LD-32 is our first intraparty runoff, for a rural R+29 seat north of Lake Charles. Incumbent Dorothy Sue Hill (D) was considered highly vulnerable but overperformed in the first round, leading carpenter and LAGOP official Biscuit Smith (R) 49-37, with a Democrat getting the remainder. Though the other Dem has endorsed Smith and the LAGOP has made this seat a priority Hill should be favored with better D turnout.
LD-34 is a D+29 seat covering the east side of Lake Charles. Incumbent AB Franklin (D) looks likely to lose after trailing ex-State Rep. Wilford Carter (D) 38-35 in the first round.
LD-40 is a D+12 seat based in Opelousas. Businessman Dustin Miller (D) led attorney Donovan Hudson (D) 29-19 in an 8-way field in October, but Hudson has raised more and has more establishment support, so this could go either way.
LD-45 is an R+25 seat covering urban and suburban areas on the west side of Lafayette. Insurance agent Andre Comeaux (R) led attorney Jean-Paul Coussan (R) 41-37 in the first round, so it looks like there is no clear favorite here.
is an R+19 seat covering rural bayous between Houma and Morgan City. Moderate incumbent Joe Harrison (R) trailed Terrebonne CE Beryl Amedee (R) 41-37 in October. Amedee has most business support, but Harrison might be more amenable to crossover voters so it looks like there is no clear favorite.
LD-53 is an R+21 seat covering part of Houma and some rural bayou areas. Incumbent Lenar Whitney (R), known as a polarizing conservative, was edged out by 9 votes by attorney Tanner Magee (R). Both recieved 34% and the remainder went to a Dem, so it looks like Magee is favored here.
LD-63 is a D+28 seat covering northern Baton Rouge and the lower-middle class suburb of Baker. Ex-Baton Rouge councilman Ulysses Addison (D) led university administrator Barbara Carpenter (D) 33-30 in the first round, so there is no clear favorite in the second round.
LD-66 is an R+28 seat covering suburban areas on the southeast edge of Baton Rouge. Moderate incumbent Darrell Ourso (R) was held to just 38% in a crowded field in the primary and faces a runoff with minister Rick Edmonds (R), who took 23%. There does not seem to be a clear favorite.
LD-69 is an R+21 seat on the east side of Baton Rouge. Insurance agent Paula Davis (R) squeaked ahead of Baton Rouge councilman Ryan Heck (R) 38-37 in the first round. Davis is considered somewhat more moderate and probably a marginal favorite.
LD-72 is a D+13 seat around Amite and Kentwood formerly held by John Bel Edwards. The black-majority seat has a runoff between two white candidates. Ex-State Rep. Robby Carter (D) led Greensburg councilman Hunter Carter (D) 43-20 in the first round, so Robby looks like the clear favorite this week.
LD-99 is a D+44 seat based in (appropriately enough for the number) New Orleans’s Lower 9th Ward. Jimmy Harris (D), a staffer to US Rep. Cedric Richmond (D), is heavily favored over Some Dude Ray Crawford (D) after leading 47-30 in the first round.
LD-100 is a D+43 seat in New Orleans East. Legislative staffer John Bagneris (D) led hospital board member Alicia Clivens (D) 38-28 in the first round and looks at least slightly favored this week as the two have both garnered some establishment support.
LD-103 is our second interparty runoff, for a R+10 seat based in St. Bernard Parish east of New Orleans. Incumbent Ray Garofalo (R) has garnered the ire of trial lawyer groups, who have spent heavily against him on behalf of R-turned-D St. Bernard Parish commissioner Casey Hunnicutt (D). Garofalo led 39-22 in the first round, with Republicans combining for 58%, so Garofalo looks like a moderate favorite. But Hunnicutt could have a chance if Edwards’s vote is strong in the district.

BESE: Two State School board seats are also up for grabs, both R-on-R affairs between a LABI (business group) backed pro-education reform candidate and a union-backed anti-Common Core candidate. LABI candidates had outspent their rivals dramatically in the first round, but now that the group has clinched 6 of the 8 spots the urgency seems to have gone down for them in the last two races and the union-backed candidates look favored in both seats. BESE-4 covers the northwest part of the state around Shreveport. Union-backed incumbent Mary Harris (R) led LABI-backed chamber of commerce official Tony Davis (R) 43-37 in the first round and is probably favored. BESE-6 covers most of Baton Rouge and most of the Florida Parishes to the east. Union-backed school administrator Kathy Edmonston (R) took 47% of the vote in a crowded field October and is heavily favored over engineer Jason Engen (R), who took just 19%.