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Louisiana Politics: Low turnout expected as early voting begins

Editor's note: After this column was submitted for publication, 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal candidate Vanessa Waguespack Anseman was ruled ineligible to run by a state district judge in St. Landry. Anseman said she would appeal the ruling.

Three judicial races, a trio of special elections for the Louisiana House of Representatives and a number of local-level contests on the ballot this month should produce an overall voter turnout that’s below 20 percent, according to the secretary of state’s office.
Early voting got underway this past weekend for those elections and will run through Saturday, March 18.
There hasn’t exactly been a spike in participation, though, which signals a depressed on Election Day on March 25, officials say.
“There’s just usually not a lot of interest for these local races and ballot initiatives,” said Secretary of State spokeswoman Meg Casper Sunstrom.
There is one big change for early voters in the eastern portion of New Orleans, where a tornado brought devastation in February.
There are 13 precincts there that are being consolidated inside the state’s voting machine warehouse in the city.
State officials are working to make sure voters are aware of the temporary location.
Meanwhile, those satellite voting precincts that were used in Livingston Parish last election cycle due to the 2016 flooding event are no longer needed.
“Everything is back in its original locations,” Sunstrom said.

Site takes aim at JBE
America Rising is at it again.
The Washington-based conservative political outfit has been pushing alternative storylines regarding Gov. John Bel Edwards to reporters over the past few months in hopes of influencing public dialogue in Louisiana — and eventually Edwards’ re-election campaign in 2019.
And now it’s promoting a new microsite, or an auxiliary website, called “The Accidental Governor.” (
“Mocking the 56 percent of Louisiana voters who supported Gov. Edwards seems like a losing strategy, but is par for the course for a Washington, D.C., special interest group,” said Richard Carbo, the governor’s communications director.
Scott Sloofman, an America Rising spokesperson, said the site is “dedicated to cataloguing Edwards’ liberal positions, flip-flops and broken promises.” It’s meant to be part of an ever-expanding “research narrative.”
If nothing else, it certainly doubles down on the group’s commitment to target Edwards in 2019.
“Governor Edwards is one of the last Democrats standing in the South, and our mission is to highlight his broken campaign promises and liberal record,” Sloofman said in a statement. “With his support of higher taxes and coziness with the trial lawyers, no amount of moderate masquerading can separate Edwards from the liberal policies of today’s Democratic Party.
"One of the reasons we were able to define Secretary Clinton so negatively was our four-year head start on the research, and we aim to replicate that effort and end result with Governor Edwards. This website is just the starting point.”

3rd circuit race turns ugly
There’s a reason why some groups that typically play in judicial races decided to steer clear of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal race in Lafayette.
There were predictions far and wide earlier this year that the race would get nasty — and those forecasts, so far, have been spot on.
What no one knew a few months ago, though, was what role the local media would play in all of this.
The latest news involves Vanessa Waguespack Anseman, who is bouncing between district attorneys who are looking into challenges to her candidacy.
The IND, a news organization in Lafayette, was the first to report on the question of Anseman’s qualifications — particularly whether she was admitted to practice law for 10 years, a constitutional requirement.
St. Landry Parish District Attorney Earl Taylor has actually filed a lawsuit on the matter, according to KATC-TV, and 15th Judicial District Attorney Keith Stutes is looking into it as well, reportedly at the request of Susan Theall, who is also running for the seat.
Earlier this month The Daily Iberian had its own story about the third Republican woman who has qualified for the seat, Candyce Perret, and her 2004 arrest on a misdemeanor charge. The Perret campaign contends the offense reports involved include erroneous information.
The IND has likewise been reporting on the business dealings of Perret’s husband and a “long-running federal probe.”
The candidates are running to replace Judge Jimmy Genovese, who was elected last year to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

They said it
“We must take advantage of this opportunity... before we fall off of that cliff.”
—Gov. John Bel Edwards, on the upcoming regular session, in The Monroe News-Star
“I think there will be some tax reform and some spending reform, but I don’t think there’s any appetite for raising taxes.”
— Rep. Lance Harris of Alexandria, the chairman of the House Republican Delegation, in The Monroe News-Star
For more Louisiana political news, visit or follow Jeremy Alford on Twitter @LaPoliticsNow.


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