Monday, November 18, 2013

Trying to Make Sense Out of an Obscure Louisiana By-Election

But the Sense is That Incumbents Are in Big Trouble

Louisiana held a special election for an open congressional seat  Saturday, and the outcome as far as the winning political party was never in doubt.  Louisiana has an open system, with a primary determining the two top vote getters who square off in a general election.  This being rural Louisiana the two top candidates were both Republicans.

But one Republican was the “establishment” candidate and the other was a self funding millionaire who was a political novice.  The establishment fellow, Neil Riser won in the first round and was the overwhelming favorite to go to Congress.  He was trounced.

Rookie Vance McAllister says he’s never visited Washington, D.C., but now he has a job in the nation’s capital.

McAllister upset state Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, by winning the all-GOP runoff for the 5th Congressional District seat in much of northern and central Louisiana.

McAllister had 54,449 votes, or 60 percent of those counted in the runoff, according to the complete but unofficial count of all 981 precincts by the Secretary of State. Riser had 36,837 votes or 40 percent of the votes counted.

Now obviously both of these gentlemen were radically conservative, but there was a difference.

McAllister ran an anti-establishment campaign and he carries similar political views as Riser on most issues. But one key issue where they split was health care. They both adamantly oppose the Affordable Care Act. But, where Riser took a repeal-only approach, McAllister said he wants to repeal it but realizes that is not politically possible for now with Democrats controlling the White House and the Senate.

McAllister also came out in favor of the Medicaid expansion to insure 265,000 more low-income Louisianians as long as the law is in place. Gov. Bobby Jindal has rejected the expansion. Riser attacked McAllister relentlessly on the issue during the last week of the campaign.

Yes, even in a conservative House district expanding medical coverage to low income people is popular.  In 2014 everyone will learn if Louisiana was just a fluke, or a harbinger.

The other lesson here is that voters are mad, (as if no one knew that).  This bodes big problems for Republican Senatorial incumbents facing primaries.  Big problems.  Yes, we’re talking about you Senator McConnell. 

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