Qualifying yields uptick in intraparty legislative races

Out of the 96 legislative races on Louisiana’s October primary ballot, 42 of them will pit members of the same party against each other.

The tally includes 25 all-GOP House and Senate elections and another 17 races with nothing but Democrats, based on last week’s qualifying process and related information compiled by the Secretary of State’s Office.

That means about 44 percent of all of the competitive legislative elections this cycle — or those with two or more contenders — will come down to intraparty battles.

Consultants and other campaign professional suggest it’s an unprecedented figure, and that the trend is strengthening.

Moreover, the uptick in intraparty legislative races signals a transition to full partisanship in the Legislature, which has experienced a gradual but aggressive Republican takeover during the past three election cycles.

In other words, the transition and segmentation are complete — or, as Baton Rouge pollster Bernie Pinsonat is fond of saying, if a Capitol politician is in the middle, that Capitol politician is probably roadkill.

On both sides of the aisle, it no longer matters whether a candidate is a Democrat or a Republican, Pinsonat and others have noted along the trend line; what matters now is how Republican or how Democratic the candidates appear.

A larger drive for this R vs. R and D vs. D development has been Louisiana’s unique open primary system, also referred to by some as a jungle primary system, where all candidates are pitted against each other on the same ballot, regardless of party.

Last year, Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Louis Gurvich offered up an op-ed to newspapers around the state last year complaining about the only statewide race on the ballot in 2018.

That’s when a special election was called for secretary of state, but Gurvich’s could have well been reserved for the ongoing cycle.


About Jeremy Alford 227 Articles
Jeremy Alford is an independent journalist and the co-author of LONG SHOT, which recounts Louisiana's 2015 race for governor. His bylines appear regularly in The New York Times and he has served as an on-camera analyst for CNN, FOX News, MSNBC and C-SPAN.

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