Sometimes, for all the piles of returns and layers of commentary, an election doesn’t tell you a whole lot.
That was probably the case for the October primary, where turnout was estimated to be 13.5 percent statewide, and that included an election for a new state treasurer. Even New Orleans, for an open mayoral seat, did not generate a large turnout of voters to push that statewide number up.
With the city excepted, the playing field suggested that ploys aimed at the most conservative voters would be successful. And they were, although with caveats.
For treasurer, every GOP candidate claimed the conservative mantle, but those who voted appeared to have applied the Potter Stewart test. He’s the U.S. Supreme Court justice who said he could not easily define pornography but he’d know it when he saw it.
A couple of the GOP candidates were not, perhaps, sufficiently conservative: Angele Davis, of Baton Rouge, explicitly backed President Donald Trump, but she had previously served former Gov. Mike Foster and former Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, neither a favorite of the most conservative leaders. Neil Riser of Columbia had the backing of Senate President John Alario, now a Republican but again not the favorite of the party apparatus, in part because of his long service for former Gov. Edwin W. Edwards.
John Schroder, of Covington, had a bit of geographic base on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain but was helped elsewhere by his reputation as a hard-liner in the state House, where the “pure” Republicans of the right of the party are based.
He is now the clear favorite against Derrick Edwards, the unknown who runs Nov. 18 because of the “D” behind his name. If anything, turnout outside New Orleans is likely to be even more dismal in November. Chronic voters, trending older and more conservative, will once again be critical. Even so, Schroder is not universally popular among moderate conservatives, because of the same party split that won him the runoff spot.
Turnout is likely to be much higher than average in New Orleans, because of the mayoral runoff. If Democrats had fielded a strong candidate, with some geographical base elsewhere to offset the GOP’s advantage, this runoff might have been much more interesting.
The conservative base in the Baton Rouge and Acadiana district on the Public Service Commission gave the primary win to Craig Greene, son of a former GOP senator. But he’s more relevantly identified as a Christian conservative, based in the large and politically active Healing Place Church in the capital.
Some of the same dynamics as the treasurer’s race played out in that fight, where the appointed incumbent — Damon Baldone, of Houma — changed parties to run with the "R" behind his name. Fooled nobody, apparently, but an upside for Gov. John Bel Edwards is that Baldone’s loss does not reflect on the man who appointed him to fill the PSC vacancy; Edwards did not endorse in the actual election.
So little is changed, although the position of New Orleans mayor remains a critical one in state politics, and — for the first time — she is to be elected in November.
Roy Brightbill: The former United Press International reporter and editor died at 77 in Alabama, where he ended his storied career at the Mobile Register. An LSU graduate, he was well-known for his work in Louisiana and, in fact, around the world for the old UPI. He will be greatly missed.
Louisiana had a rare statewide election in an off-year, special election for treasurer – a little-known position that has served as a bully pu…