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Qualifying in Louisiana: Here are the races and candidates to know for 2022 elections

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The qualifying period for the Nov. 8 congressional and state elections concluded Friday at 4:30 p.m. See candidates who will be on your ballot this fall.

U.S. Senate

Louisiana voters will find a U.S. Senate race at the top of their ballots this fall. Republican incumbent John Kennedy is the heavy favorite in the race. The Cook Political Report grades Kennedy’s seat as solid Republican, but that hasn’t stopped Kennedy from amassing $29 million to fund his reelection bid. Kennedy said he plans to raise between $35 and $40 million before the campaign is over. Kennedy has the endorsement of the Louisiana Republican Party and former President Donald Trump.

Kennedy is facing off against a field crowded with Democrats and Independents. Baton Rouge activist Gary Chambers and U.S. Navy Veteran Luke Mixon lead the challengers. Mixon has presented himself as the center-left candidate, cut in the mold of Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, who also endorsed Mixon in the race.

Chambers has taken a decidedly more aggressive tone. The firebrand candidate, known for his splashy social media campaign messages, brought a bottle of weed killer when he filed his qualifying papers on Wednesday, a nod to Kennedy’s campaign kick-off video saying he would “rather drink weed killer” than let down Louisiana voters.

Chamber leads the Democratic field in fundraising with $1.38 million in total receipts — slightly more than $1.11 million raised by Mixon. Democrat Syrita Steib, a healthcare worker and formerly incarcerated criminal justice reform advocate, is the only other Democrat to report fundraising totals to the Federal Election Commission. Her campaign has brought in a little over $180,000.

U.S. Congress 

All six incumbents have qualified for this fall’s congressional race. All are considered heavy favorites, all have the endorsement of their political party, and all are running in districts that were drawn to favor candidates of their respective parties. Rep. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans) of the 2nd Congressional District and Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City) of the 4th Congressional District qualified their reelection bids by proxy on Wednesday. Carter will face Harvey Republican Dan Lux this fall. Johnson is running unopposed.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Metairie) and Rep. Garret Graves (R-Baton Rouge) filed in-person Friday morning. Both told The Advocate that they are confident that the GOP can reclaim the House this fall.

Rep. Julia Letlow (R-Start) followed shortly after Scalise and Graves. The boundaries and racial makeup of Letlow’s 6th Congressional District were hotly contested during this year’s two special redistricting sessions. Civil rights groups and Democratic state lawmakers hope to turn the 6th District into the state’s second majority-Black congressional district. They sued the state after the legislature failed to do so. Late last month, the U.S. Supreme Court intervened in the court case and locked in the status quo congressional maps lawmakers passed for this election cycle. Letlow did not comment on the dispute when she qualified Friday, per The Advocate.

Rep. Clay Higgins (R-Lafayette) was the last member of Louisiana’s congressional delegation to qualify for reelection. After facing heavy criticism for his efforts to secure additional federal disaster aid for Hurricane Laura victims, Higgins will face off against three Republican challengers this fall, led by Lafayette Assistant District Attorney Holden Hoggatt.

State Senate Special Elections

Every member of the Louisiana legislature will be up for reelection when voters head to the polls in 2023, but the early departure of two high-profile state senators prompted two special elections that will be decided this fall.

Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans), longtime state senator and former head of the Louisiana Democratic Party, abruptly resigned from her New Orleans-based 5th Senatorial District seat in April citing her yearslong struggle with gambling addiction. In the months since, it emerged that Peterson was the subject of a federal investigation for her alleged personal use of Democratic party and campaign funds. According to her attorneys, Peterson signed a plea deal earlier this month.

State House members Royce Duplessis (D-New Orleans) and Mandie Landry (D- New Orleans), two of the most vocal advocates for progressive causes in the state House, are attempting to fill Peterson’s shoes in the upper chamber of the legislature.

The early retirement of former State Senator Rick Ward (R-Port Allen), a political moderate and a long-time ally of Gov. John Bel Edwards, left his seat in the 17th Senatorial District up for grabs.

State Rep. Jeremy Lacombe (D-New Roads), another moderate, qualified for the race on Wednesday. West Baton Rouge Parish councilman Caleb Kleinpeter and Kirk Rousset, both Republicans, have also entered the race to replace Ward.

Other Races to Watch

The second-highest ranking member of the Louisiana House of Representatives has filed to run for a seat on the First Circuit Court of Appeals. House Speaker Pro Tem Tanner Magee (R-Houma) is running to fill a seat vacated by Chief Judge Vanessa Guidry Wipple, who is retiring. Magee will face off against fellow Republican Steven Miller, a judge in the 17th Judicial District Court in Lafourche Parish.

Magee is planning to keep his House seat through the campaign but said he will resign if elected. If successful, his departure would come one year before he would have been up for reelection.

Longtime Democratic State Senator Gregory Tarver is running for Mayor of Shreveport, challenging incumbent Adrian Perkins (D-Shreveport), who many voters will remember from his unsuccessful attempt to unseat U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy in 2020.

Many state legislative leaders are mulling runs for higher office, including House Speaker Clay Schexnayder (R-Gonzales) and Senate President Page Cortez (R-Lafayette), who are both considering running for Lieutenant Governor in 2023. The exodus of Magee, Schexnayder and Cortez would mean a big shake-up in the state legislature’s leadership hierarchy.

Paul Braun is WRKF's Capitol Access reporter.

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