Louisiana News

Seat in Congress up for grabs as Louisiana voters head to the polls Saturday

(The Center Square) – Louisiana voters will head to the polls again Saturday, though likely in far fewer numbers than a month ago.

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin has predicted about 20 percent of registered voters will participate in the December election, down from about 70 percent in November’s presidential election. Low turnout is the norm in December elections, he says.

The highest-profile race is in the 5th Congressional District, where two Republicans are vying to replace U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, who did not run for reelection. Every incumbent in Louisiana’s congressional delegation who was on the ballot in November easily won reelection, though U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond is stepping down to take a senior role in President-elect Joe Biden’s administration.

Luke Letlow, who was Abraham’s chief of staff, finished first in November’s nonpartisan open primary with 33 percent of the vote. State Rep. Lance Harris finished second with 17 percent to earn a spot in Saturday’s runoff, barely edging out Democrat Sandra Christophe.

Harris and Letlow don’t differ much, if at all, on policy. In a recent debate, Letlow touted his work with Abraham, such as on the most recent federal Farm Bill, which he says opened new markets for Louisiana agriculture. He said he would come to Congress with existing relationships and an understanding of the process.

Harris presented himself as an outsider who would challenge the Washington, D.C. establishment. He said his breadth of experience, as a business owner and state lawmaker, have prepared him to be an effective congressman.

The 5th District includes northeast and part of central Louisiana and is mostly rural, though it includes the cities of Monroe and Alexandria.

The only item on every ballot statewide is a proposed constitutional amendment to allow up to two people who live outside of Louisiana to serve as an at-large member of one of the state’s public college management boards. Membership currently is restricted to state residents.

Eric Skrmetta, a Republican, is running for reelection in southeast Louisiana’s District 1 of the Louisiana Public Service Commission against Democrat Allen Borne Jr. Skrmetta got 31 percent of the vote in the first round, while Borne finished second with 25 percent.

Local elections include races for mayor-president of East Baton Rouge, district attorney in New Orleans, several judgeships, and a number of local tax proposals.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Anyone still in line at 8 p.m. is allowed to vote.

Voters can find their polling location and sample ballot by downloading the GeauxVote Mobile app for smartphones or by visiting www.GeauxVote.com.

Some polling locations in Calcasieu and Cameron parishes have been moved from their usual locations due to damage caused by hurricanes Laura and Delta. A list is available at the secretary of state’s website.

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