In a nail-biter, Jean-Paul Coussan pulled out a victory Saturday to win the House District 45 seat, besting André Comeaux by a few hundred votes for a four-year term representing the Lafayette legislative district.
With all 26 precincts reporting, Coussan received 5,765 votes to Comeaux’s 5,509. Both candidates are Republicans.
District 45 was held for three terms by Joel Robideaux, who entered the Legislature in 2004 as an Independent and later switched to the Republican Party. Robideaux was term-limited and last month he was elected Lafayette City-Parish president.
Comeaux and Coussan finished one-two in the Oct. 24 primary election. Lafayette Republican Jan Swift finished third with 22 percent of the votes, and opted not to endorse either of her opponents.
Voter turnout Saturday and in early voting was 42.6 percent, slightly fewer than the 44.2 percent who turned out for the Oct. 24 primary.
Both runoff candidates worked in the weeks between the elections to retain their base and to try to draw Swift’s supporters to their side.
All three candidates started campaigning a few years ago, collecting contributions and mixing in Lafayette meet-and-greets every chance they got.
Comeaux and Coussan collected campaign contributions right up to the runoff Saturday, campaign finance reports show.
During the campaign, Coussan and Comeaux said they knew that, if elected, they would step into a statewide budget crisis, which has occurred for several years running. Louisiana’s next governor is likely to call a special budget session in January.
The race was absent of public rancor or negative political ads, and there was not much they disagreed on.
Coussan said he was trying to accentuate his Catholic-Cajun roots: He was named after Pope John Paul I, one of the relatively few named after the pontiff who was pope for just over a month before he died in 1978.
Comeaux answered that he has lived in Lafayette long enough to become a native, and good naturedly challenged Coussan to a Cajun two-step contest.