This week in politics: The winners and losers of the general election
Every week, politics reporter Molly Ryan rounds up the news of the week from the campaign trail and beyond. This will be the final weekly roundup until the state Legislature reconvenes in the new year.
Republicans sweep all statewide seats
In another resounding victory for the Louisiana GOP, Republicans swept the three remaining statewide seats that were on the ballot last weekend, making this the first time since 2015 that Republicans will occupy all of the executive branch’s elected offices in Louisiana.
Republicans also secured a supermajority in both chambers of the state Legislature. That means the party will have very little standing in its way when passing conservative legislation. For the past eight years, outgoing Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ veto pen was the only thing keeping some of those policies at bay.
Republican Liz Murrill will be Louisiana’s first female attorney general, after winning that race with about 66% of the vote. Murrill is expected to work closely with Gov.-elect Jeff Landry, who she’s already worked alongside for several years as the state’s solicitor general, a role that Landry appointed her to in 2016 during his tenure as attorney general. Murrill and Landry hold a lot of the same conservative views, like opposing abortion rights.
In the general election runoff for state treasurer, Republican John Fleming easily beat Democratic challenger Dustin Granger with about 65% of the vote. Fleming is a former U.S. representative who also served in several roles in the Trump administration, including as the assistant secretary of commerce for economic development. During the campaign, one of the biggest differences that emerged between Fleming and Granger is how they planned to invest the state’s money, which is among the treasurer’s responsibilities.
Fleming told Louisiana Considered that he wasn’t necessarily opposed to investing in companies with environmental, social and governance — or ESG — policies. But he has publicly expressed concerns about investing in companies with such policies. He said the state should be investing its money in places where it will get the best return on its investment, suggesting that investing in ESG companies could be a purely political move.
The third statewide race on the ballot last weekend was for secretary of state. Republican Nancy Landry, like the other Republicans, easily won with about 67% of the vote.
The primary role of the secretary of state is to ensure Louisiana runs fair and smooth elections. As the next secretary of state, Nancy Landry will be tasked with implementing a new voting system. The state Legislature passed a bill a few years ago that bans the use of the current voting machines and requires a new system that includes a paper trail. Landry said she prefers a system that combines digital and print technology.
Louisianans adopt three of four proposed constitutional amendments
Louisiana voters approved three out of four proposed constitutional amendments that appeared on the ballot Saturday.
One allows local authorities to implement a special property tax exemption for certain first responders. It doesn’t require the exemption, but rather gives local authorities the option to offer it. Another amendment that passed will allow lawmakers to vote on whether to override a governor’s veto on a law if they are already convened for a legislative session — without having to stop that session and hold a separate veto session. The third amendment that voters adopted removes six inactive funds from the state Constitution.
The only amendment that did not pass would have added some restrictions to how and when lawmakers can access money from a state savings account.
Voter turnout remains low
Voter turnout in the election last weekend remained extraordinarily low. Turnout for the primary election in October was considered dismal at 36%. But in the November general election, turnout was even lower. Unofficial turnout was about 22%, according to the secretary of state’s office, likely in part because the governor’s race was decided outright in the October primary.
In New Orleans, a meager 15% of registered voters is estimated to have made it to the polls on Saturday, contributing to the especially poor outcomes for Democrats. In the wake of such resounding defeat this election cycle,several figures within Louisiana’s Democratic Party have again called on the party chair, Katie Bernhardt, to resign. That includes Dustin Granger, who was in the runoff for state treasurer. Bernhardt responded to those calls in a statement saying the party is “disappointed” in the results of the statewide elections but encouraged by their wins in other races.
Politics news from across the state
Gov.-elect Jeff Landry sets inauguration schedule; see how you can take part — The Times-Picayune, New Orleans
Republican Gov.-elect Jeff Landry will be inaugurated on Jan. 8, 2024. Landry is kicking off his inauguration celebrations the day before with a Mass at his childhood church in St. Martinville, St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church. On the evening of Jan. 8, Landry will host an inaugural ball at the Raising Cane's River Center in Baton Rouge. Tickets are open to the public on a first come, first served basis.
Louisiana Black Caucus urges Legislature to quickly redraw state’s congressional maps — The Advocate, Baton Rouge
After a federal appeals court gave the Legislature a Jan. 15 deadline to redraw the state’s congressional map with a second majority-Black district, Louisiana’s Legislative Black Caucus demanded that Republican leadership in the Legislature call a special session.
Caddo Parish sheriff’s race decided by one vote; recount expected — Louisiana Illuminator, Baton Rouge
In the Caddo Parish sheriff’s race last weekend, Henry Whitehorn beat out John Nickelson by just one vote. Nickelson is expected to ask for a recount, which would take place next week.
Every week, politics reporter Molly Ryan brings listeners election and politics updates live on the Capitol Access segment of All Things Considered on WWNO and WRKF. This will be the final update until the state Legislature picks things back up in the new year.