Louisiana secretary of state’s race moves to December runoff
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s special election to fill a secretary of state seat vacated because of a sexual harassment scandal headed to a December runoff between Republican Kyle Ardoin and Democrat Gwen Collins-Greenup.
While the election chief’s job won’t be settled until Dec. 8, Louisiana voters in Tuesday’s open primary agreed to return six U.S. House incumbents to Washington for another term and approved the rewrite of six provisions in the state constitution. One winning constitutional amendment that attracted intense support across the political spectrum will require unanimous jury verdicts for all felony convictions.
SECRETARY OF STATE
Voters whittled down the competition to be Louisiana’s next secretary of state from nine to two contenders, including a Democrat who wasn’t the favored candidate of her party.
The winner of the December runoff will complete the remaining year of the term of Republican Tom Schedler, who resigned in May amid allegations he sexually harassed an employee. The secretary of state oversees elections, state archives and business registrations.
Ardoin was Schedler’s top aide and worked in the interim position after Schedler stepped down. While he repeatedly said he wouldn’t run, Ardoin announced in the final minutes of the candidate sign-up period that he changed his mind and would be on the ballot. Though only in the top job a few months, Ardoin ran as an incumbent.
Collins-Greenup, a lawyer and notary from Clinton, reached the runoff even though the Louisiana Democratic Party instead endorsed and supported Renee Fontenot Free, a former first assistant to two secretaries of state who most recently worked for the attorney general.
Collins-Greenup raised only about $3,000 for her campaign. But she focused on low-expense efforts, traveling to speak at small forums, luncheons and other events and seeking support among African-American voters.
Republicans who ran but didn’t make the runoff included Turkey Creek Mayor Heather Cloud, former state Sen. A.G. Crowe of Pearl River, state Rep. Rick Edmonds of Baton Rouge, and state Rep. Julie Stokes of Kenner.
Stokes outspent nearly everyone else in the race, only to come in behind at least three other candidates.
U.S. HOUSE SEATS
All six of Louisiana’s incumbent congressmen won their re-election bids: Republicans Steve Scalise in the 1st District, Clay Higgins in the 3rd District, Mike Johnson in the 4th District, Ralph Abraham in the 5th District, and Garret Graves in the 6th District and Democrat Cedric Richmond in the 2nd District.
Their opponents significantly lagged in the financing to mount the sort of advertising and outreach effort often needed to oust a sitting member of Congress.
Scalise and Richmond are positioned for continued high-profile leadership roles in Congress. Scalise is the House’s third-ranking Republican while Richmond is chairman of the influential Congressional Black Caucus. Both are expected to remain in prominent positions next term.
In his first term in office, Higgins overcame the most challengers, with six contenders trying to oust him from the district representing southwest and south central Louisiana. He was also the only Louisiana congressman to face an intra-party fight.
There were six proposals to change the Louisiana Constitution.
Voters approved Amendment 1 to make convicted state felons wait five years after serving their sentences before they can run for office in Louisiana, unless they are pardoned.
Voters approved Amendment 2 to end a Jim Crow-era law that allows split juries to convict people of serious felony crimes. Louisiana was one of two states that permitted non-unanimous verdicts in felony cases. Starting Jan. 1, all felony jury verdicts will have to be unanimous to convict.
Voters approved Amendment 3 to authorize local government agencies to share equipment and staff for a specific activity if they have a written agreement, without any compensation needing to be exchanged.
Voters approved Amendment 4 to prohibit use of money from Louisiana’s Transportation Trust Fund, which contains state gasoline and fuel tax income, to pay for state police operations. Instead, the money will only be spent on road, bridge, port and airport work.
Voters approved Amendment 5 to extend Louisiana’s special property tax assessments for the elderly, disabled veterans and surviving spouses of people in the military, law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical technicians who die in the line of duty to homes placed in a trust.
Voters approved Amendment 6 to require a four-year phase-in of higher property taxes when a tax assessor’s reappraisal boosts a home’s value by more than 50 percent. The change won’t apply if the home is sold or its value was bumped up by construction or upgrades.
Voters decided on a parish-by-parish basis whether to legalize cash-league fantasy sports contests through online sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel.
With fantasy sports websites, people can create imaginary teams of real-life sports players and score points based on how those players perform in actual games. The sites charge an entry fee and offer payouts to winners.
Louisiana is one of nine states that haven’t allowed online fantasy sports betting. Though the games only will be permitted in parishes where voters authorize it, anybody will be able to log into the fantasy sports sites if they travel to those parishes.
Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte
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