Candidates for hundreds of public offices have been talking up possible bids for weeks. But if they want to run in the November election, they will have to officially sign up Wednesday through Friday.
Republican President Donald Trump’s reelection effort, presumably against Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden, will top the Nov. 3 ballot.
Louisiana traditionally turns out big for presidential elections – usually more than two-thirds of the registered voters casting ballots. More than 2 million voters participated in 2016, with 58% backing Trump.
Political demographers are predicting the November 2020 elections will have a record-breaking turnout nationwide. Democrats have been energized this year by what are perceived weaknesses including a sluggish coronavirus pandemic response, a poor economy, racially tinged protests and a long-held desire to whip Trump. Republicans hold 53 seats in the U.S. Senate – a three-vote majority – but will be defending 20 senators this fall. Serious and well-financed Democratic candidates have mounted fierce challenges in many of those races, including presumably safe GOP seats in Maine, Kentucky, Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, and Colorado.
On the eve of qualifying, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, so far has not been challenged in his bid for a second term by a well-known and well-funded Democrat. Cassidy, who convincingly defeated incumbent Mary Landrieu in 2014, is planning to qualify on Friday.
Cassidy’s U.S. Senate seat is considered “safe Republican” by Larry Sabato’s “Crystal Ball,” a website based at the University of Virginia.
But Democratic Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins, a former soldier and Harvard law school grad, is “seriously considering” a trip to Baton Rouge sometime this week to sign up for the race, according to a close associate.
All six members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Louisiana are running for reelection and will have to qualify.
Chief Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Bernette J. Johnson, D-New Orleans, is up for reelection to a 10-year-term on the seven-member Louisiana Supreme Court. She was first elected to fill a spot on the high court in 1994. Associate Justice Marcus R. Clark, R-Monroe, is stepping down for health reasons and his seat is up in the 2020 elections.
A dozen judges on various Court of Appeal circuits across the state also will be on the ballot in November. Appellate courts serve as intermediary judicial reviews between the Supreme Court and the trial level state district courts.
The terms of two of the five members of the utility-regulating Public Service Commission expire at the end of the year. Each PSC commissioner represents more people than a congressman, thus the post has launched the campaigns of several governors going back to Huey Long.
Both Commissioner Eric Skrmetta, the Metairie Republican who represents much of suburban New Orleans, and Foster Campbell, the veteran Bossier Parish Democrat whose district covers the northern part of the state, plan to qualify to run for reelection. And both are expected to draw well-funded and well-known opponents.
These state candidates will be required to travel to Baton Rouge to perform the paperwork and pay the fees at the Secretary of State’s office. Because of the social distancing and other requirements to stifle the spread of COVID-19, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin moved qualifying to the Louisiana State Archives, which has more room to spread out.
Candidates will be allowed to bring only one additional person into the signing room. Usually, candidates fill up the space with family and supporters. The candidates will then be allowed to give a short presentation in the Archives’ auditorium. Before the pandemic, the speeches took place in the Secretary of State’s small reception area.
All candidates for local races will qualify with their parish clerk of court.
Literally hundreds of local offices are up for election. Baton Rouge is electing a mayor-president and Metro Council. New Orleans is picking a school board.
All 43 district attorneys, 217 district court judges across the state and a handful of city court judges are on the ballot.
Many towns are electing aldermen, mayors and filling other local posts.
For instance, the Town of Delcambre, with about 1,800 residents living east of Abbeville, have every local office on the ballot, including mayor, police chief and all five aldermen.
Runoffs, if necessary, are set for Dec. 5.