November 18, 2019
November 16 Run-Off Election Results!
Election results are in! More than 1.5 million Louisiana voters showed up for this critical run-off election. In other words, 51% of registered voters, 54.6% in East Baton Rouge, participated in this election. This was an increase from a month ago, when roughly 1.3 million people, or 45% of registered voters, cast their ballots. Run-off election turnout is often lower than in primary elections, but this year we–Voters Organized to Educate, VOTE, the Power Coalition, and other key partners–mobilized on a massive scale. The President probably has heartburn in the White House with how much cajun cooking he ate during the past month, and it might be particularly troubling to some observers to know how big an impact our voting bloc has become.
Governor John Bel Edwards was re-elected, receiving 50.7% of the vote. Edwards defeated businessman Eddie Rispone for the job that may truly define Louisiana’s fate. East Baton Rouge voters supported the Governor. Eighty-six-percent of East Baton Rouge voted for Gov. Edwards, but those votes were highly concentrated in the urban parts of the parish. The slim margin of just 40,341 votes is poetically similar to the number of people held in prisons and jails. If Edwards had not won 50,000 by votes in Baton Rouge and 100,000 votes in New Orleans, we would be waking up in a different Louisiana, with Rispone as our governor.
We hope leaders can now turn their attention to toxic dumping grounds, rising sea levels and the intergenerational impacts of poverty. We can expect the Edwards administration to continue focusing on health care, education, and reforming the criminal legal system towards restorative justice. With Edwards at the helm, Louisiana residents of all political persuasions can expect us to continue trending in the right direction. It will also likely be national news, in the era of Trump, that a two-thirds Republican state refused to elect another unqualified rich guy, just because he has an “R” next to his name and talks like the President.
Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin won the rematch with Gwen Collins-Greenup, receiving 59% of the vote, despite the heavy Democrat turnout and recent news of Kyle Ardoin not adhering to campaign finance laws. While Collins-Greenup mounted a solid campaign for the seat, she would have become Louisiana’s first statewide-elected Black woman. Now that Ardoin is out of a two-year campaign mode, perhaps he will be more willing to inform people of their voting rights and maybe even help simplify the registration process for people who have had their voting rights suspended and now restored. Stay tuned for more on the struggle for universal suffrage.
Louisiana Supreme Court Associate Justice, 1st District: After a Final Four in the primary, voters from the North and South Shores elected Will Crain (57%) over Hans Liljeberg. This was framed as Trial Lawyers (for Liljeberg) vs. Big Business (for Crain), but that is never quite the case, as these two are probably much more alike than different. Crain presents himself with the out-dated tough on crime narrative. We hope that view doesn’t impact his judgment when reviewing police misconduct, ineffective lawyers, and other abuses of power. Most of Crain’s support came from the North Shore, which outnumbered Lijeberg’s votes in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.
- Senate Dist. 16: Unsurprisingly, Franklin Foil consolidated the heavy Republican votes, and defeated Beverly Brooks Thompson, with 58% of the vote. Thompson was ahead of Foil in the primary. While it is disappointing that she did not secure a victory, Thompson had a strong showing and definitely made connections across South Baton Rouge.
- House Dist. 67: After a very dismal turnout in the primary election–just more than 7,000 people–voter turnout increased by 2,068 people, who firmly elected Larry Selders, defeating Leah Cullins with 55% of the vote. Both candidates were strong enough to succeed Rep. Pat Smith, and we are confident the highly-respected Selders will stand up for his residents concerning social justice issues at-large and reforming the incarceration industry specifically.
- House Dist. 68: Scott McKnight defeated upstart Taryn Branson, gaining 58% of the vote. It was great to see the district turnout rise up to 56%, and those voters (whether they voted along their party lines or not) are expecting great things from their freshman legislator.
- House Dist. 70: Barbara Freiberg defeated Belinda Davis with 53% of the vote. Although Freiberg did not complete our survey, we hope she will be a positive asset to her district. After spending six years on the school board and the past two years on the Metro Council, voters are familiar with her opinions on a wide range of issues.
- 19th JDC Judge (ES 2/Div. L): Ronald Johnson defeated Trae Welch, gaining 57% of the vote. Johnson is the latest criminal defense lawyer making the move to district court judge. While Mr. Johnson received Know Your Vote’s endorsement, we expect him to maintain the neutrality and impartiality we hope for from the entire bench.
CRUCIAL: The next election is April 4, the 2020 Presidential Primary
April 2020 will be the first time that voters MUST register as either a Democrat or a Republican in order to vote in the presidential primary election. You can easily change your registration online prior to March 14, 2020.
Remember: You can register to vote at any time. If you have a criminal conviction and need help, contact VOTE: firstname.lastname@example.org or 504-571-9599.
Thanks for voting, and remember to tell your neighbors: know your vote!