Trump Expected To Win Louisiana, Open U.S. Senate Seat Near Top Of LA Ballot
NEW ORLEANS (AP) —Voting is underway in Louisiana and if history repeats itself, Republican Donald Trump will win. The state hasn't given its eight electoral votes to a Democrat in 20 years.
In addition to casting ballots for president, Louisiana voters will be choosing among contenders to be the state's new U.S. senator, filling six U.S. House seats and deciding the fate of six constitutional amendments in Tuesday's election.
Four incumbent congressmen are seeking to hold onto their seats, but two of the U.S. House jobs are open, drawing large numbers of candidates. No race was more packed, however, than the U.S. Senate race, with two dozen names on the ballot.
Runoffs, as needed, will be Saturday, Dec. 10.
The polls remain open until 8:00 p.m.
While voters may only recognize the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the Republican nominee Donald Trump, 11 other candidates also are running in Louisiana to be the nation's chief executive. They include contenders from the Libertarian Party, Green Party, Constitution Party, Socialist Workers Party and others fewer people may recognize.
Louisiana has eight presidential electoral votes. The state is considered so solidly Republican that Trump and Clinton spent little time campaigning here.
Five of the 24 contenders on the ballot are considered possibilities for reaching the runoff.
They include three Republicans: U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, U.S. Rep. John Fleming and state Treasurer John Kennedy. The other two are Democrats: Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and lawyer Caroline Fayard, who has never held elected office.
White supremacist David Duke is running as a Republican, but has lagged in the polls.
More than $14 million has been spent by candidates ahead of the election.
Louisiana's three GOP congressmen who are seeking to return to their seats appeared to face easy re-election bids, with opponents who have done little fundraising or campaigning.
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, the third-ranking House Republican, is seeking a fifth term representing the southeast Louisiana-based 1st District seat. U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham is seeking a second term representing the 5th District covering northeast and central Louisiana. U.S. Rep. Garret Graves is running for a second term representing the Baton Rouge-based 6th District.
The only Democrat in Louisiana's congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond is vying for a fourth term representing the 2nd District, which includes most of New Orleans and runs up the Mississippi River into part of Baton Rouge. Richmond's main challenger is Baton Rouge mayor Kip Holden, a Democrat with high name recognition who has mounted a modest campaign against the incumbent.
U.S. HOUSE-OPEN SEATS
Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, the Republican third-place finisher in last year's governor's race, is expected to easily reach the runoff for the open 3rd District U.S. House seat representing southwest and south central Louisiana.
It's not clear whom he'll face among the 11 other candidates competing for the seat.
Considered possibilities for reaching the runoff are four Republicans: businessmen Greg Ellison and Gus Rantz, former state Rep. Brett Geymann and former sheriff's Capt. Clay Higgins, dubbed the "Cajun John Wayne." Larry Rader, president of the Port of Iberia, also is seen as possible for the runoff as the only major Democratic contender.
Louisiana's 4th Congressional District seat also isn't expected to be decided until a runoff, with eight candidates vying to fill the open northwest Louisiana-based seat.
As the lone Democrat, Shreveport lawyer Marshall Jones is expected to have a runoff spot. Republicans in the race include Shreveport cardiologist Trey Baucum, Shreveport City Council member Oliver Jenkins, state Rep. Mike Johnson, Shreveport lawyer Rick Johns and former state Sen. Elbert Guillory of Opelousas.
Voters in south Louisiana will be choosing between two candidates seeking to be a new justice for Louisiana Supreme Court's 3rd District representing the Lafayette and Lake Charles areas. Also in the southwest and stretching into central Louisiana, four candidates are vying for an open seat on Louisiana's utility regulatory board, the Public Service Commission.
There are six proposals to change the Louisiana Constitution.
Amendment 1 would enact residency, education and experience qualifications for new registrars of voters.
Amendment 2 would give Louisiana's four public college system management boards the authority to change tuition and fee rates on college campuses without needing approval from state lawmakers.
Amendment 3 would do away with a tax break that allows businesses to deduct the federal income taxes they pay from their state tax liability. Corporations in exchange would be taxed at a flat rate of 6.5 percent, rather than varying rates from 4 percent to 8 percent, starting in 2017.
Amendment 4 would exempt the surviving spouses of military personnel, police officers or firefighters killed in the line of duty from having to pay local property taxes on their homes.
Amendment 5 would create a new Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund to be filled with oil and gas revenue and corporate taxes when those collections are higher than usual. Once the fund reaches $5 billion, up to 10 percent could be spent on construction projects and roadwork. Another portion of oil and gas money would pay down state retirement debt.
Amendment 6 would make it easier for lawmakers to tap into protected funds when the state faces financial troubles.
Nonpartisan information on the amendments is available from the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana here.
– by AP Reporter Melinda Deslatte