Conrad Appel easily defeated fellow Republican John LaBruzzo on Saturday to hold onto his state Senate seat in District 9, fending off a challenge fueled by opposition to the state’s new Common Core academic standards.
With 57 percent of the vote, Appel will serve a third term in the Senate, where he has taken a leading role in the state’s controversial efforts to improve public education.
For LaBruzzo, it was a failed effort to resuscitate a political career that was derailed in 2011 when redistricting put him in an unsuccessful contest with fellow incumbent state Rep. Nick Lorusso, R-New Orleans.
LaBruzzo, who served in the House from 2004 until 2012, bet the race on the idea that voters would be angry enough over the state’s new academic standards to oust Appel, who has supported them publicly.
The Common Core has become politically toxic over the past few years, with parents questioning unconventional ways of teaching math and conservative critics accusing the Obama White House of forcing the new standards on the states.
The outcry became serious enough that Appel brokered a series of compromise bills at the Legislature this year that resulted in a full review by state officials of the standards and the tests attached to them. Appel argues that the new legislation essentially ends the Common Core in Louisiana, since the state will no longer be taking its standards or tests from the consortium that developed the Common Core.
In any case, he argued during the campaign that his actual record in Baton Rouge has little to do with the new standards. He pointed to his handling of a landmark set of education bills in 2012 and his push to get the state more competitive in seeking out foreign investment.