In Louisiana, there remain elections. Seems like that’s always the way in our state.
The runoffs in December include some important races, such as that for a new district attorney in New Orleans.
There’s a Republican-vs.-Republican race for an open seat in the U.S. Congress. That district sprawls from the Monroe area through Alexandria and then down the Mississippi River and across the Florida parishes to Bogalusa.
So while that contest involves significant number of precincts in the greater Baton Rouge area, the big races in this region are those for the future leadership of East Baton Rouge Parish. Voters will elect the mayor-president and fill six of 12 Metro Council seats.
And like so much of politics in 2020, it’s a mess during a pandemic.
The first debate for the Dec. 5 runoff for mayor-president had to be canceled, reportedly because of COVID-19 exposure to a family member of Republican candidate Steve Carter.
Trey Schmaltz, WBRZ's assistant news director, said the candidate who had been exposed was awaiting the results of a coronavirus test and has yet to experience any symptoms.
That leads us to hope that there will be a rescheduling of the debate between Carter and Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, who is seeking a second four-year term in office.
Broome led in the primary with 48% of the vote but Carter’s 20% put him in second place ahead of several other Republican candidates in the field.
While Broome is favored in the race, runoffs — as candidates will always tell you — are different elections. But they are also occasions for differences in the candidates’ positions to be fleshed out for voters.
That is why we are sorry to see the WBRZ debate off and hope that it will be on again. With face-to-face campaigning diminished, voters need to see the candidates drilling down on issues, including the tough situations that the next four years will bring.
If there is a resolution of long-running legal cases involving St. George, voters need to know what stances the candidates will take. Concerns like crime and drainage — the latter something that has faced Broome a lot as she took office in the wake of disastrous 2016 flooding — are tough and require more than sound-bite answers.
The good news is that the importance of the race is recognized: The Press Club of Baton Rouge will host an in-person forum on Nov. 30 for the two candidates, outdoors under the pavilion at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden.
We look forward to statements about the issues between the candidates, both long-term members of the Legislature from Baton Rouge. If they talk civilly head-to-head, as we expect, the voters will be the winners of the debates.