In Louisiana, a State Senate Battle on the Bayou

Sunday update: Democrat Norby Chabert won the special election 54% to 46%. My preview post is below.  Only in Louisiana does a state legislator resign to become ...
by | August 28, 2009

Sunday update: Democrat Norby Chabert won the special election 54% to 46%. My preview post is below. 

Only in Louisiana does a state legislator resign to become his parish's levee director. State Senator Reggie Dupre, a Democrat, left earlier this summer to serve as Terrebonne Parish's levee director, setting up a special election in Louisiana's 20th District tomorrow.

This should be a tight race. In the first round of voting, Republican Brent Callais took 38%, while Democrat Norby Chabert took 33%. The third candidate in the primary, Damon Baldone, was also a Democrat, but it's not clear that his votes will go to Chabert. Baldone hasn't endorsed either of his two former foes. A Callais win would chip into the 23-16 Democratic advantage in the Louisiana Senate.

So far as I can tell, this area of coastal Louisiana is ancestrally Democratic, but very conservative. The district covers parts of Terrebonne Parish and Lafourche Parish. I don't know about the specific areas of the parishes that are in the 20th District, but overall both Terrebonne and Lafourche gave John McCain about 70% of the vote. In contrast, Mary Landrieu's U.S. Senate race was very tight in both parishes.

Health care is the hot topic in the district, with Callais trying to nationalize the race. From the Courier, a local paper:

Two weeks ago, Callais' campaign sent out another mailer, this time with an image of Obama dressed in medical scrubs and a message warning voters that Chabert supports the president's health-care plan, a claim Chabert rejected before the flier hit mailboxes.

For his part, Chabert is trying to portray himself as the defender of the Chabert Medical Center. That's a local charity hospital in the district that's named after the candidate's father, a longtime state legislator.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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