Candidates seek congressional seat in Louisiana special election

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October 18, 2013


By Jennifer Springer

Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Fourteen candidates will battle for the 5th Congressional District seat in the open primary tomorrow.[1] Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.[2]

All fourteen candidates, made up of five Republicans, four Democrats, two Libertarians, one Green Party candidate and two Independents, will run against each other in the primary. The top two candidates, regardless of party, will advance to a possible runoff election on November 16, 2013, if no candidate receives more than fifty percent of the total votes.[3]

The special election will be held to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Rep. Rodney Alexander (R).[4] Gov. Bobby Jindal announced on August 7, 2013, that Alexander will take over as the next Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs.[4] Alexander's resignation was effective on September 26, 2013.[4]

Louisiana has an open primary system, in which registered voters do not have to be members of a party to vote in that party's primary.

There is no requirement that a candidate must live in the district. He or she must only be a state resident.[5]

Louisiana's 5th Congressional District is a safe Republican district.[6] The 5th Congressional District is the largest geographically in the state, encompassing 22 parishes in the northeast and central parts of the state.[7]

State senator Neil Riser is seen as the front-runner, leading in polls prior to the primary, and is widely expected to receive the most votes in the open primary.[8] Several candidates have accused Gov. Bobby Jindal and outgoing Rep. Rodney Alexander of tipping off Riser early to the fact that Alexander would step down from his seat on August 6, 2013. They say this allowed Riser to form a campaign team and start accumulating funds ahead of the rest of the candidate pool.[9] Riser, Alexander and Jindal's office have all denied the claims.

Riser said the Federal Election Commission incorrectly dated his candidacy documents, making it appear that he signed up for the 5th District election before Rodney Alexander announced he was stepping down.[9] On August 27, 2013, FEC officials corrected the mistake on their website and confirmed Riser did in fact file his candidacy forms on August 9, 2013.[10] Regardless of the mistake, a handwritten "8/5/13" shipping date will not be removed from the PDF file of his forms, the official added.[10]

Five other current elected officials running are considered main contenders for the second spot in a potential runoff: Public Service Commissioner Clyde Holloway (R), state Rep. Marcus Hunter (D), state Rep. Robert Johnson (D), Mayor of Monroe Jamie Mayo (D) and state Rep. Jay Morris (R).[11]

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