On paper, both of the candidates in Saturday’s runoff to represent southeast Baton Rouge in the Louisiana Legislature look similar: conservative Republicans with experience on the Metro Council.
Though they come from the same philosophical place, they represent opposing factions: one unyielding and the other, practical.
East Baton Rouge Metro Councilman Buddy Amoroso says he opposes taxes, Common Core and the Affordable Care Act; and he will not compromise, regardless of the situation.
“These are core principles of mine. I would not vote (in favor) on any of those issues,” Amoroso said Thursday.
Darrell Ourso, who was on the Metro Council from 1999 to 2008, also is against taxes and also opposes adding the uninsured to Medicaid rolls, as allowed under “Obamacare,” but that doesn’t mean it should be summarily crossed off the list of options.
“I’m a practical person,” Ourso said Thursday, adding that public servants need flexibility. “It’s better for a conservative to be the one doing the analysis and deciding on the solutions.”
The polls open at 7 a.m. for the Saturday runoff election and close at 8 p.m. for 29 precincts along Bayou Manchac from the Amite River to Gardere.
“Participation during early voting was just a bit heavier than we saw during the primary, so I anticipate turnout to be similarly low this weekend,” Secretary of State Tom Schedler said. “I put it at about 13 to 15 percent, but I hope voters prove me wrong, given this election will fill a legislative seat leading into an important fiscal session.”
The 29 precincts of House District 66 have 30,758 people eligible to vote in Saturday’s election. A total of 24,471 registered voters are white — almost 80 percent — and 49 percent, 14,982, are registered as Republicans, one of the state’s highest concentrations.
Only 13.8 percent of House District 66 voters cast ballots in the Feb. 21 special election between four candidates. In the primary, 17.3 percent of the Republican voters cast ballots and only 4.7 percent of the district’s black residents voted.
Thirty-five votes separated Amoroso, who came in first, and Ourso.
The winner in Saturday’s runoff will serve out the remaining nine months of former State Rep. Hunter Greene’s term. Greene is now a family court judge.
“There’s definitely one candidate who is pragmatic and one candidate is more of an absolutist,” Rick Bond said Thursday. Bond came in third in the primary and spent much time with both candidates appearing at forums during the short race.
Bond said he’s not endorsing either candidate and is considering challenging the winner in the fall when the seat is up for a full, four-year term. “I respect them both, and I didn’t really want to enter the fray,” Bond said.
When asked by the East Baton Rouge Parish Republican Party, which endorsed Amoroso, both candidates said they would vote against any and all tax increases.
Ourso wrote on the questionnaire: “Louisiana citizens are already burdened with enough taxes.”
Amoroso agreed, writing: “We are taxed enough.”
As metro councilmen, both candidates voted to reject the fairness ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. Both reported on their questionnaires that they would vote to retain Louisiana law defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
Amoroso typed in all caps, “All of history has defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
Ourso wrote, “While in office as Metro Councilman, I attended a function by the EBR Parish Republican Committee on the steps of the State Capitol to publicly support the DOMA (the federal Defense of Marriage Act). Those in attendance were provided a red painted stick as a memento of the day.”
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