David Vitter, John Bel Edwards focus on questions about sex scandal, ‘spying,’ endorsements in heated forum _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- David Vitter talks to people before the forum. In the first head to head meeting since the primary election, gubernatorial candidates David Vitter and John Bel Edwards meet in a forum hosted by the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

A former state legislator from New Orleans and candidate for mayor, political analyst Ron Faucheux publishes a daily rundown of the national polls, indispensable for political junkies. It noted the latest polls from Alabama, where one poll has embattled Republican Roy Moore well ahead; another, by Baton Rouge-based JMC, has Democrat Doug Jones narrowly ahead in the December special election.

But Faucheux and his readers also love political trivia, often a feature of his newsletters. The prospect of Moore winning also raises the prospect that Republican senators might move to expel him rather than be tainted by allegations of sex with teenage girls. So the trivia question: How many senators have been expelled? Only 15 in U.S. history, mostly because of the Civil War.

In the late unpleasantness of 1861-65, Louisiana had two Confederate sympathizers in the Senate, but they were not expelled, unlike more than a dozen others; Judah P. Benjamin and John Slidell resigned after the hard-fought debate over secession resulted in Louisiana leaving the Union.

But two of our senators have been embroiled in different discussions about their fitness for office: Huey P. Long in 1934 was investigated for election fraud, but he was not expelled. That was when Sen. Tom Connally of Texas, sent to New Orleans to look into the matter, told fellow senators that if they wanted a post-graduate course in politics they should go to Louisiana.

Lately, there was David Vitter of Metairie in 2007, unlike Moore having admitted to a serious sin, and having been investigated by the Ethics Committee. The panel never acted, Vitter was re-elected and served until losing the 2015 race for governor; he then retired from elected office.

Now, if the people of Alabama overlook Moore's past, he might well face a battle over whether he should be expelled from the Senate over sexual improprieties. One can wonder if senators relish such an outcome, but if history is any guide expulsion will be an extreme remedy for the GOP majority.

Stephanie Grace: In Duke-Edwards race, Louisiana drew the line; where's Alabama's line with Roy Moore?