GOP sweeps runoffs, end­ing 2016 elec­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY MELINDA DESLATTE

BATON ROUGE, LA. | The 2016 cam­paign sea­son has fi­nally ended, with Louisiana’s runoff elec­tion ce­ment­ing Repub­li­can con­trol of the U.S. Se­nate and the GOP also hold­ing onto the two U.S. House seats that were un­de­cided go­ing into the state’s runoff elec­tion.

Repub­li­can state Trea­surer John Kennedy’s vic­tory Satur­day gives the GOP a 52-48 edge in the Se­nate start­ing in Jan­uary. His runoff cam­paign fo­cused on his sup­port for Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump and op­po­si­tion to the Af­ford­able Care Act.

Vot­ers also chose Repub­li­can Clay Hig­gins, a for­mer sher­iff’s cap­tain known as the “Ca­jun John Wayne,” in the 3rd District rep­re­sent­ing south­west and south­cen­tral Louisiana. Repub­li­can state Rep. Mike John­son won the 4th District, cov­er­ing north­west Louisiana.

Mr. Kennedy en­tered as the front-run­ner and never re­lin­quished the po­si­tion, even when the field swelled to two dozen con­tenders in Novem­ber. In the runoff, he de­feated Demo­crat Foster Camp­bell, a state util­ity reg­u­la­tor who was such a long-shot that na­tional Demo­cratic or­ga­ni­za­tions gave him lit­tle help.

It was Mr. Kennedy’s third U.S. Se­nate run since 2004 and this time he won in a land­slide, tak­ing 61 per­cent to Mr. Camp­bell’s 39 per­cent in the low­turnout elec­tion.

“With 52 seats in the U.S. Se­nate, we are ex­cited for Repub­li­cans to con­firm a con­ser­va­tive Supreme Court jus­tice and be­gin work­ing with Pres­i­dent-elect Trump to pass an agenda of change for the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” a state­ment from Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee co-chair Sharon Day said.

Mr. Kennedy de­clared that he rep­re­sents change in Washington. “I be­lieve that our fu­ture can be bet­ter than our pre­sent, but not if we keep go­ing in the di­rec­tion the Washington in­sid­ers have taken us the last eight years,” he said. “That’s about to change, folks.”

Louisiana’s open pri­mary sys­tem pits all can­di­dates against each other and sends the top two vote-get­ters into a runoff when no one gets more than 50 per­cent.

Mr. Trump and Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence both trav­eled to Louisiana to rally for Mr. Kennedy, and de­spite Mr. Camp­bell’s slim chances, he did get do­na­tions from around the coun­try, aimed at bol­ster­ing re­sis­tance to the Trump pres­i­dency.

“We worked as hard as pos­si­ble. We left no stone un­turned,” Mr. Camp­bell said in his con­ces­sion speech. “I make no ex­cuses. We did ev­ery­thing hu­manly pos­si­ble.”

The Se­nate seat was open be­cause Repub­li­can David Vit­ter de­cided against run­ning for a third term af­ter los­ing the gov­er­nor’s race last year. Both Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Camp­bell have been in­volved in Louisiana pol­i­tics for decades.

Mr. Camp­bell, a cat­tle farmer and pop­ulist for­mer state se­na­tor from north Louisiana who railed against “Big Oil,” talked openly about man-made cli­mate change and ar­gued for in­creas­ing the min­i­mum wage. Though a Demo­crat, he op­posed abor­tion and ran as sup­port­ive of gun rights.

Two House seats were open be­cause Repub­li­cans Charles Bous­tany and John Flem­ing un­suc­cess­fully sought the Se­nate seat in­stead of re-elec­tion.

The 3rd District race’s pre­sumed front-run­ner had been Scott An­gelle, a Repub­li­can mem­ber of the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion and well-known pub­lic of­fi­cial for nearly 30 years. But Mr. Hig­gins — who made at­ten­tion-grab­bing Crime Stop­pers videos as a sher­iff’s cap­tain — cap­i­tal­ized on dis­en­chant­ment with ca­reer politi­cians to trounce Mr. An­gelle with only a frac­tion of his money and a bare-bones or­ga­ni­za­tion.

In the 4th District, Mr. John­son de­feated Demo­crat Mar­shall Jones in a com­pe­ti­tion that largely steered clear of at­tacks.

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