Think you've had enough of elections now that the runoffs have run their course? Think again. At a minimum, we'll have two more rounds of special elections before the next round of regularly scheduled elections in the fall of 2008. How's that, you say?
At a minimum, we'll have a special election for Congress in the spring to succeed Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal in the First Congressional District. That special election will mark the first time in 30 years that Louisiana elects a member of Congress via separate party primaries. The party primaries have been set for March 8, with party runoffs on April 5, followed by the general election on May 3.
Jindal formally gave notice almost two weeks ago to Gov. Kathleen Blanco and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that he will resign his seat in Congress on Jan. 14, the same day he will be sworn in as Louisiana's new governor.
Louisiana lawmakers voted to return to separate party primaries " but only in federal elections " last year. In hard-fought contests with large fields of candidates and no heavily favored incumbents (such as the upcoming contest for Jindal's seat) the eventual winners will have to endure three elections to get to Congress or the U.S. Senate.
Next fall, all seven Louisiana congressmen as well as U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu will be up for re-election. They, too, will have to run in separate party primaries, but most if not all incumbents will be heavily favored to win their respective party nominations in the primaries. The lone exception could be Congressman Bill Jefferson of New Orleans, who is scheduled to stand trial on federal corruption charges in January. It goes without saying that there could be a special election to succeed him any time in 2008.
In the special election to succeed Jindal, a bevy of major Republican elected officials is lining up to run. The biggest and most frequently mentioned names include Jefferson Parish Councilman at-Large John Young of Metairie, new state Sen. Steve Scalise of Jefferson, Slidell Mayor Ben Morris and St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis.
Jindal's district includes all of St. Tammany, Washington and Tangipahoa parishes, as well as parts of Jefferson, St. Charles and Orleans parishes. It's extremely unlikely that any of the Republicans will win a majority in the party primary. In fact, the GOP runoff could shape up as a Northshore-versus-Southshore war. Until now, the Southshore has prevailed in that district, but after Katrina, voter registration has spiked on the Northshore.
The district favors whoever the GOP nominee will be, and if it's one of those mentioned above, that will trigger yet another special election to fill the winner's current job. That special election could be in June or July, with a runoff in August, followed in short order by the regularly scheduled campaigns next fall for Congress, the U.S. Senate, all state district judges, a seat on the state Supreme Court (Chief Justice Pascal Calogero must retire at the end of his current term), all Louisiana district attorneys, and the Orleans Parish School Board " just to name a few.
Oh, yeah, we'll also be choosing a new president on Nov. 4 " which is the runoff date for all the local elections, as well as the general election for Congress and Landrieu's U.S. Senate race.
In New Orleans, if Cynthia Willard-Lewis has won the race for councilmember at-large, we'll have to hold a special election to fill her District E council seat. That will likely be in the March-April-May cycle. If there is a race to succeed Willard-Lewis, the winner of that contest could easily be one of several state lawmakers from eastern New Orleans or the Ninth Ward " which would, in turn, precipitate yet another special election to fill a legislative vacancy.
It never ends.
New Orleans, by the way, also will have a special election for DA next fall, but the primary will be on the same date as the regularly scheduled DA's election " Oct. 4. If Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Leon Cannizaro decides to run for DA, he'll have to resign his judgeship before he even announces, which means there will be a special election for that post as well. That race could be next October, unless Cannizaro resigns soon, in which case that election could be scheduled in the spring or summer.
There's never a recession in Louisiana politics.