Congressman Bill Cassidy spent Monday knocking on doors in the Baton Rouge subdivision where he grew up. Three-term U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu rallied union members, and Rob Maness ate ice cream in north Louisiana.
All three major candidates for the U.S. Senate were hoping for just enough support to win Tuesday’s election without facing a runoff next month — an outcome few think is likely.
In the meantime, down-ballot candidates headed into the final hours of a whole host of local elections that have been largely overshadowed by the Senate contest.
In New Orleans, voters will decide more than a half-dozen judicial elections. In Jefferson Parish, business groups and the local teachers’ union continue to spar over School Board seats. And in St. Tammany Parish, four different candidates vie to become the next district attorney as Walter Reed prepares to step down after 30 years in the job.
Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. State government is closed, as are many public schools.
Because of the possible role Louisiana may play in which party controls the Senate, voters could see national and international news media at the polls monitoring the election.
The Senate race may be the headliner but voters across Louisiana are choosing all six representatives to the U.S. House, deciding 14 amendments to the state constitution as well as picking prosecutors, judges, school board members, mayors and aldermen, depending on the locality.
U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, faces nominal opposition in his re-election bid for the 2nd Congressional District, which covers New Orleans, many of the river parishes and a large swath of East Baton Rouge Parish.
In the 6th Congressional District, former Gov. Edwin W. Edwards, who is running as a Democrat, faces 10 other candidates to represent the district that covers south Baton Rouge and much of its suburbs, down to the western suburbs of New Orleans and over into Houma. Most pundits predict Edwards, as the best-known of the three Democrats running in an overwhelmingly Republican district, will find himself in the Dec. 6 runoff.
It’s a tight race among the seven Republicans, including state Sen. Dan Claitor; Garret Graves, the top coastal adviser in the Jindal administration; Paul Dietzel, a 28-year-old Baton Rouge entrepreneur; and state Rep. Lenar Whitney, of Houma.
In the Senate race, Landrieu pushes the clout she has accumulated over the past 18 years. She is chairwoman of the Senate committee that oversees energy policy. Republican Cassidy is running on the promise that unseating a Democrat could help roll back the programs of President Barack Obama. Maness, a Republican running to the right of Cassidy, promises more conservative values in government.
Though Landrieu and the Democrats are pushing for an outright win Tuesday, the more likely scenario is a Dec. 6 runoff, probably with Cassidy, if the polls are to be believed.
Hanging over the race from a national perspective is whether Republicans will win control of the U.S. Senate they have in the U.S. House.
The GOP needs to pick up six seats to control the upper chamber of Congress and targeted incumbent Democrats, like Landrieu, who were elected from states dominated by Republicans.
Handicappers said Monday that the GOP takeover was a virtual certainty, with The Washington Post saying there is a 7 in 10 chance of that outcome.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister’s easy ride to re-election in the 5th Congressional District became bumpy when he was caught kissing a married aide.
He had initially run as a “family values” candidate with the support of Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo and the Robertson family, which stars in the “Duck Dynasty” reality television show.
This time, Mayo, the only Democrat in the race, is running and likely will find a place in the runoff. The Robertson family, meanwhile, is backing Republican Zach Dasher, of Calhoun. Other Republicans in the race are Harris Brown, of Monroe, and Ed Tarpley, of Alexandria.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler calculates a 52 to 53 percent turnout Tuesday, more than in 2010, the last midterm election, but less than in 2012 when President Barack Obama ran for his second term.
“I hope for 60 percent. But quite frankly, the data just doesn’t tell me that,” Schedler said. About 1.3 million voters in 4,018 precincts will use about 10,000 voting machines to cast ballots Tuesday.
Each machine can handle about 20 voters an hour, he said.
“There are going to be lines,” Schedler said. “(The ballot is) one of the longest we’ve seen.”
At 8 p.m. sharp, precinct officials will mark the end of the lines, allowing those people still waiting to cast ballots. “We may not finish voting until 8:30, maybe quarter to 9,” he said, saying that the outcomes in tighter races may not be known until after midnight.