Republicans target Dem incumbents to gain majority in Baton Rouge

Published: October 9, 2019

By: Ben Baumgardner, Catherine Hunt, Lara Nicholson and Katie Peppo, LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE—While the gubernatorial campaign has been the center of attention, several legislative races in Louisiana are gaining momentum as the October 12 primary approaches.

Republicans are within striking distance of a supermajority – holding at least two-thirds of the seats — in each chamber of the state Legislature. Getting there, however, could require beating incumbents, a rare accomplishment in Louisiana elections.

Incumbent legislators have won over 90% of their elections during the past two decades, according to LSU Public Policy Research Lab Director Dr. Michael Henderson. Typically, incumbents leave office only when they reach their term limit or choose to resign.

On the other hand, legislative elections are increasingly decided on a partisan basis. Republicans now hold seats in 85 of the 101 Louisiana House and Senate districts that President Donald Trump carried in 2016, while Democrats hold 41of the 43 House and Senate districts that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton carried.

Republicans are challenging four of the six Democratic or independent incumbents in districts Trump carried. By contrast, Republicans are challenging only three of the 26 incumbent Democrats in districts Clinton carried.

So the races in which Republicans are challenging Democratic incumbents pit partisanship versus incumbency in what promise to be interesting tests of which means more to voters now.

Not surprisingly, then, the incumbents in these races are downplaying their party affiliations.

In Trump-friendly northwest Louisiana, incumbent Sen. John Milkovich, D-Shreveport, faces a strong Republican challenge in Senate District 38 from businessman Barry Milligan.

“Politicians, PACs and special interests are spending thousands of dollars against us because I am independent,” said Milkovich, one of the most conservative Democrats in the Legislature. “I didn’t take orders from them, and I didn’t ask permission from them on how to vote.”

Read more at Bossier Press-Tribune.

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