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Louisiana Politics: Local races will drive voter turnout, too

When voters head to the polls to complete the runoff process this weekend, many of them will select individuals to help manage their parishes and cities.
From the ranks of soon-to-be former legislators, Sen. Mike Walsworth of West Monroe and Rep. Andy Anders of Vidalia are in runoffs for clerk jobs and Rep. Steve Pugh of Ponchatoula has made it to the final round for a mayoral post.
—Assumption: Clerk of Court: Erin Hebert & Annette Smith Joseph
—Avoyelles: Sheriff: Douglas “Doug” Anderson & David L. Dauzat
—Beauregard: Sheriff: John L. Gott & Mark Herford
—Catahoula: Sheriff: Toney Edwards & Cedric Elias Martin
—Claiborne: Sheriff: Michael Allen and “Sam” Dowies
—Concordia: Clerk of court: “Andy” Anders and Phillip Webber
—East Carroll: assessor: Lee Ann W. Clement and Barbara McDaniel
—Evangeline: Sheriff: Brian Ardoin and Charles R. Guillory
—Franklin: Clerk of Court: Anita Gallagher-Wygal and Matthew Hollis
—Iberia: Sheriff: Murphy Meyers and “Tommy” Romero
—Lafourche: Parish president: Archie Chaisson III and “Luci” Sposito
—LaSalle: Sheriff: Scott Franklin and Charles “Chopper” Turnage
—Madison: Sheriff: Sammie Byrd and Donnell Rose
—Natchitoches: Parish president: John Richmond and Lee Waskom
—Ouachita: Clerk of court: Dana Benson and Michael A. “Mike” Walsworth
—Rapides: Sheriff: “Kris” Cloessner and Mark Wood; mayor town of Ball: Terry Allen Baker and “Gail” Wilking
—Red River: Assessor: Dovie Beard and Tenisha Canterbury
—Sabine: Sheriff: Aaron Mitchell and “Ronny” Richardson; assessor: Carroll Ellzey and “Chris” Tidwell
—St. Landry: Assessor: Blair Briggs & Sherri Zeringue McGovern; parish president: W.K. “Bill” Fontenot and “Ken” Marks
—St. Tammany: Sheriff: “Tim” Lentz and “Randy” Smith; parish president: Patricia “Pat” Brister and Michael “Mike” Cooper
—Tangipahoa: Mayor city of Ponchatoula: “Steve” Pugh and Robert F. “Bob” Zabbia
—Terrebonne: Sheriff: Blayne “Bubba” Bergeron and “Tim” Soignet
—West Baton Rouge: Sheriff: Michael “Mike” Cazes and “Mike” Zito
—Webster: Sheriff: Scott Mathews and Robert Patrick

Political History: When
Louisiana picked the president
Even though this is our gubernatorial election cycle, and despite Bayou State enthusiast President Donald Trump not appearing on a ballot until 2020, things around here are still getting downright presidential.
That was also the case down here in 1876, although the District of Columbia was and still is roughly 1,100 miles away from our northern state line. That’s when our homeland found itself pulled into — and not for the last time — the orbit of national politics as a disputed presidential election hinged on ballots that were cast in Louisiana.
With incumbent President Ulysses S. Grant plagued by scandals and looking to retire after eight years in the White House, the GOP nominated then-Gov. Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio as their standard bearer. According to his official White House biography, Hayes had the benefit of a Harvard Law degree and a chest full of Civil War decorations.
The Democrats, in turn, nominated Gov. Samuel J. Tilden of New York, a popular reformer who made a name fighting the power of the infamous Tammany Hall. (Corruption in a place called Tammany! Imagine that.)
When the votes were counted on Election Day, Tilden had clearly won the popular vote, leading Hayes by nearly 300,000 ballots out of the 8 million cast. But the count in the Electoral College was too close to call, and the returns were disputed in Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida. So tight were the numbers that all Tilden needed was just one electoral vote to claim is prize. Hayes, in turn, needed the votes of all three states.
Louisiana’s politics were a mess in 1876 (again, imagine that), according to historians Jack McGuire and Walter Cowan. Two different Louisiana governors were inaugurated due to related disputed returns, and each claimed to be the duly elected chief executive. (Imagine if that happened this month!)
Against this troubled backdrop, a group of Louisiana Democrats, led by state Treasurer E.A. Burke, sought to cut a deal with Washington Republicans.
They promised to deliver Louisiana’s 10 electoral votes to Hayes as long as their candidate, Francis T. Nicholls, would be recognized as the state’s legitimate governor. Plus, the new president would have to withdraw all occupying military units and officially end Reconstruction.
Hayes and his supporters agreed to the deal, which led to Hayes taking office as the nation’s 18th president and Nicholls winning control state government.
A Republican would not carry Louisiana in a presidential election for another 90 years — until Dwight D. Eisenhower won a second term in 1956.
For more Louisiana political news, or follow Alford onTwitter@LaPoliticsNowWednesday, on WVLA-TV


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