A current member and former member of the Baton Rouge Metro Council will face each other in a runoff election to decide who will represent southeast Baton Rouge in the state House of Representatives.
With all 4,243 votes counted in Saturday’s low-turnout special election, Buddy Amoroso received 1,512 votes or 35.6 percent of the total votes cast. Darrell Ourso followed with 1,477 votes in an election that pitted four candidates to replace former state Rep. Hunter Greene, who is now a family court judge.
The runoff election is set for March 28, a Saturday. Early voting is March 14 to March 21.
The race for House District 66 was one of three contests to seat representatives before the Louisiana Legislature convenes April 13 to take up a budget facing a $1.6 billion deficit and what promises to be a determined effort to withdraw Louisiana from the Common Core program that sets higher academic standards for public schools that can be easily compared with other states.
Voters in Iberia and Vermilion parishes favored Blake Miguez, president and CEO of SeaTran Marine, over fellow Republican John Bering, a U.S. Army veteran who works as a helicopter pilot servicing the Gulf of Mexico. Miguez now will fill out the remainder to the term of former state Rep. Simone Champagne, R-Jeanerette, who resigned in December to become Youngsville’s new chief administrative officer.
In Rapides Parish, Jeff Hall, a retired Cleco executive, defeated two Democrats in the special election to replace state Rep. Herbert Dixon, who resigned for health reasons.
Only 13.8 percent of House District 66 voters cast ballots in Saturday’s special election. Thirty-five votes separated the first- and second-place finishers.
Amoroso, 57, is a property manager who lives the Lake Sherwood Acres neighborhood and serves on the Baton Rouge Metro Council. He’s one of the founders of the anti-tax advocacy group Tax Busters and a former member of the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport Commission.
Ourso, 50, is a financial advisor who lives in the Evergreen Acres neighborhood and served on the Baton Rouge Metro Council from 1999 to 2008. He is an executive board member of the Istrouma Area Council that oversees Boy Scout troops in the area. He also is on the board of commissioners for the St. George Fire Protection District.
Both are Republicans but differ on the issue of taxes and on Common Core.
Amoroso is flat against any tax increases and opposes Common Core. “I want local control. Louisiana can create our own standards,” Amoroso said.
Ourso counters that while also against taxes, lawmakers shouldn’t arbitrarily limit themselves when trying to fix the severe budget deficit. Though he has questions about how Common Core was rolled out and some aspects of the idea, Ourso says he supports higher academic standards for public school students and the testing that goes along with it.
“Do we need better and higher standards? Yes. Is Common Core the answer? Maybe,” Ourso said.
Ourso and Amoroso defeated first-time candidate Republican Rick Bond, a 30-year-old investment counselor who received 771 votes, and Susan Nelson, a 38-year-old public policy consultant who ran without party affiliation and received 483 votes.
“A lot of supporters have encouraged me to run again in October, and that’s something I’ll take a hard look at,” Bond said. “I haven’t decided if I’m going to endorse.”
Nelson did not return a phone call seeking comment before press time.
The 29 precincts of House District 66 had 30,758 people eligible to vote in Saturday’s election. A total of 24,460 registered voters are white — almost 80 percent — and 49 percent, 14,979, are registered as Republicans, one of the state’s highest concentrations.
In the Nov. 4 congressional primaries, 47 percent of the registered voters in House District 66 cast ballots for the dozen contenders in the 6th U.S. Congressional District race that Republican Garret Graves eventually won. Of that number, 77.4 percent cast their ballots for one of the Republican candidates.
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