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 is one of three states to use a blanket primary, or top-two system, which allows all candidates to run and all voters to vote but only moves the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, to the general election. In Louisiana, the runoff general election on December 6, 2014, is only required if no candidate receives 50 percent or more of the primary vote. If the runoff election is not needed, the race is decided with the one election (acting as both the primary and the general election) on November 4, 2014.[5][6][7]

There is no requirement that a candidate must live in the district. He or she must only be a state resident.[8]

Louisiana's 5th Congressional District is a safe Republican district.[9] The 5th Congressional District is the largest geographically in the state, encompassing 22 parishes in the northeast and central parts of the state.[10]

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.[11] 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.[12] 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.[12] 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.[13] 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.[13]

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).[14]

See also

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  1. Louisiana Secretary of State, "Upcoming elections," accessed August 8, 2013
  2. Louisiana Secretary of State, "Vote," accessed October 17, 2013
  3. The News Star, "Special election set Oct. 19; qualifying this month," accessed August 8, 2013
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2, "Rodney Alexander to join Jindal administration, departure from Congress will trigger special election," accessed August 8, 2013
  5. National Conference of State Legislatures Website, "State Primary Election Types," accessed January 6, 2014
  6. Fair Vote, "Congressional and Presidential Primaries: Open, Closed, Semi-Closed, and 'Top Two,'" accessed January 6, 2014
  7. Ballotpedia research conducted December 26, 2013, through January 3, 2014, researching and analyzing various state websites and codes.
  8. The Advertiser, "14 candidates running for Congress," accessed August 22, 2013 (dead link)
  9. Roll Call, "Louisiana Congressman to Endorse Candidate for Alexander’s Seat #LA05," accessed August 8, 2013
  10. The Advocate, "Monroe mayor to run for 5th Congressional District seat," accessed August 19, 2013
  11. Roll Call, "Special Election Whirlwind Week Starts Today," accessed October 17, 2013
  12. 12.0 12.1, "Louisiana Sen. Neil Riser says FEC made mistake in candidacy records," accessed August 28, 2013
  13. 13.0 13.1, "FEC changes filing date of Neil Riser's candidate documents," accessed August 28, 2013
  14. The Town Talk, "Election is Saturday for Louisiana's 5th Congressional District," accessed October 17, 2013