Early voting is now over for the statewide runoff election on Saturday.
The political prognosticators are looking at how many of what region or party or demographics voted early, hoping for clues about the races for U.S. Senate, a couple of seats in Congress and a new mayor-president in East Baton Rouge Parish.
We know that it's the home stretch for the candidates, and we urge those who haven't voted to look at the candidates and the issues. But, we're also entitled to a sense of relief in Louisiana because of the political cycle, three raucous years, that voters across the state are just about to see tapering off.
Beginning in 2014, Louisiana drew national attention as a key battleground state for control of the Senate. U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, of New Orleans, failed to gain a fourth term in a bitter contest that was perceived as a rejection of President Barack Obama by Louisiana voters; Bill Cassidy, of Baton Rouge, won that seat. That opened Cassidy's seat in the U.S. House, enlivened by the candidacy of Edwin W. Edwards, who lost thumpingly to Garret Graves, a Republican.
Then, in 2015, Louisiana's off-year election for governor and Legislature was held. With U.S. Sen. David Vitter the favorite for much of the year, a bitter primary and then runoff election resulted in a dramatic upset, as Democrat John Bel Edwards won the Governor's Mansion.
This was another presidential election year, in which Louisiana voters flocked to the polls for Donald Trump, a historic choice because he is our first president-elect never to have held any public office or to have been a successful general, the traditional paths to the Oval Office.
Saturday's runoff settles the fate of Vitter's seat, which he is resigning after last year's loss. Even with the nation's election fatigue, and the fact that Republican John N. Kennedy is favored over Democrat Foster Campbell (see 2014, above), a lot of national attention is still coming Louisiana's way.
There are hard-fought runoffs in two seats in Congress, in the southwestern and northwestern parts of the state. And, because of term limits, Mayor-President Kip Holden's successor will be chosen in Baton Rouge. In 2015, also because of term limits, Lafayette Mayor-President Joey Durel's seat was open and won by Joel Robideaux.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, we won't be as besieged by candidates and canvassers in 2017, but Louisiana's Crescent City does not get next year off: Term limits will mean that a new mayor must be elected in New Orleans, so Mitch Landrieu's potential successors will start campaigning for the October primary, or at least positioning themselves for the race early in the new year.
For the rest of Louisiana, will it be a political respite? Yes, except for the state's budget crisis and what is likely to be a tumultuous year in the State Capitol. So it goes.
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