In addition to red-hot national and statewide races, the Nov. 8 ballot also features contested elections for Congress — as well as judicial contests in New Orleans, special municipal elections in Kenner, and a handful of statewide and local referenda.
The local races for Congress at one time loomed as donnybrooks, but since have devolved into low-key affairs.
In Congressional District 1, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, faces six relative unknowns — none of them Republicans — after former Ku Klux Klan leader and neo-Nazi David Duke opted to run for the Senate. Duke, a Republican who is roundly denounced by GOP leaders, at one point said he would challenge Scalise.
"I was prepared to raise millions of dollars to run against Duke," Scalise said, "but when he jumped into the Senate race, things really calmed down." The incumbent says he looks forward to his next term, when he plans to focus on important local issues such as renewing the National Flood Insurance Program (set to expire next September), securing more relief for south Louisiana in the wake of the August flood, and increasing Louisiana's share of offshore mineral revenues as part of a larger plan to restore the state's fragile coastline. So far, none of his announced opponents has mounted a campaign or even filed a finance report.
The District 2 contest likewise looked to be hotly contested between incumbent Democrat Cedric Richmond of New Orleans and Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden, also a Democrat. Holden qualified but has not mounted anything that resembles an aggressive campaign. Meanwhile, Democrat Kenneth Cutno also is running. Without much to contend with in the home precincts, Richmond has spent considerable time helping Hillary Clinton's campaign for president.
In New Orleans, two judgeships are on the ballot — one for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal and one at Criminal District Court.
The appellate court contest pits two trial court judges against each other: Civil District Court Judge Regina Bartholomew-Woods and Criminal District Court Judge Laurie White. The race for Criminal Court judge has three candidates: appeals court Judge Paul Bonin and attorneys Kevin Guillory and Dennis Moore.
Kenner voters will fill two important municipal posts in a special election for mayor and at-large city council member. Those jobs became available after Mike Yenni, the former mayor, won the 2015 election for Jefferson Parish president and Keith Conley, former at-large Kenner councilman, joined Yenni's team.
The mayor's race features several high-profile Kenner politicos: Jefferson Parish Councilman Ben Zahn and three current Kenner City Council members — Gregory Carroll, Maria DeFrancesch and Keith Reynaud. Also running is political activist Al Morella. In the wake of Yenni's sexting scandal — and considering his former post as Kenner's mayor — the controversy surrounding the embattled parish president could become a major issue in the special mayoral election.
Also in Kenner, state Rep. Tom Willmott, R-Kenner, and Victor Amstutz, a retired Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office commander, will face each other for the at-large Division B council seat.
Statewide, six constitutional amendments are on the ballot. They range from the mundane (registrar of voters qualifications) to hotly debated fiscal matters such as college tuition-setting authority and corporate income tax policy. For details of each amendment — and Gambit's recommendations — see this week's Commentary.
Locally, four neighborhood crime prevention districts are up for voter approval in New Orleans, as is a proposed City Charter amendment clarifying the relationship between (and funding for) the Office of Inspector General, the Independent Police Monitor and the city's Ethics Review Board. These propositions likewise are analyzed in our Commentary.
Additional information about the constitutional amendments and local ballot propositions is available from the League of Women Voters of New Orleans at www.lwvno.org.