A Long Election Season Finishes in a Brief Runoff
On the same night that Republican Bill Cassidy beat out Sen. Mary Landrieu for senate, the GOP held on to congressional seats. In North Louisiana Ralph Abraham took home the 5th district seat, currently held by Rep. Vance McAllister. And Garret Graves won here in the 6th district.
The race was called in Garret Graves’ favor less than a half an hour after the polls closed Saturday. Cheers didn’t go up right away, though. It took a while for the crowd of supporters to realize the first-time candidate had actually won. And won big, taking 62 percent of the vote.
Graves, who was formerly head of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority under Governor Bobby Jindal, had run a demanding 9-month campaign. So demanding, in fact, that when he took to the stage for his victory speech, he was still recovering from laryngitis.
“If anyone says there’s something wrong with my voice, I can blame it on the microphone,” he told the crowd.
At his packed victory party in downtown Baton Rouge, there were appearances by the likes of Senator David Vitter, who plans to run for Governor next fall, and Baton Rouge Metro Councilman John Delgado, who’s eyeing a run for mayor.
“I understand that there are people that didn’t vote for our campaign, I understand that there are people that didn’t support us," Graves told the crowd. "Now’s the time for us to come together, this is about the future of South Louisiana.”
Graves railed against Obamacare, against Environmental Protection Agency limits on the petrochemical industry and against the department of Veterans affairs. And he assured his supporters he was not another politician making empty promises.
“They go up to Washington and they largely become part of the problem," Graves said. "And I’m telling you right now, I’m going to stick to my guns but I need your help.”
He noted that he already got a lot of help from Volunteer Wayne Kent. Kent believed so strongly that Graves could not be bought that he was glued to a stool making phone calls for the candidate for two weeks.
“My wife thought I’d moved out of my house because I just said I got to be there. Wegot to make sure he gets elected,” Kent said. To him, Graves stands in stark contrast to his opponent in the sixth district runoff. “I’mgonnago first off to make sure that an ex-con doesn’t go and embarrass Louisiana.”
Former Governor Edwin Edwards, who spent eight years in federal prison on racketeering charges, delivered his concession speech across town. “I’m will not ever run for public office again, I assume," Edwards told his supporters. "Although I never say never.”
With his infant son Eli in his arms and his wife Trina by his side, a Louisiana political legend bowed out of public life once and for all. He is 87. In the middle of Edwards’ speech, baby Eli reached for his mom, who happens to be a Republican. “He’s going Republican too," Edwards joked.
With Saturday’s results, Congressman Cedric Richmond in the majority minority2nddistrict swiftly became the only Democrat left representing Louisiana in Washington.
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