Louisiana down ballot state executive elections, 2014

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Louisiana Down Ballot State Executive Elections

Primary/General Election Date
November 4, 2014

General Election Runoff Date (if necessary):
December 6, 2014

Louisiana State Executive Elections
Down Ballot
Public Services Commissioner

Flag of Louisiana.png
Two down ballot state executive positions, both on the Public Service Commission, were up for election in the state of Louisiana in 2014. The election was held on November 4, 2014, with a general election runoff held on December 6 to decide the District 1 race between Forest Wright and Eric Skrmetta. Louisiana elections require a candidate to win 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff, which was not achieved in the District 1 race. Skrmetta defeated Wright in the runoff election. Two-term incumbent Foster Campbell (D) defeated challenger Keith Gates (R) for the District 5 seat in the November election.

Wright ran as a Democratic candidate for the District 2 seat in 2012, but was running as a Republican candidate in this election. He joined the race in August 2014 along with Allen "Al" Leone (R) to challenge incumbent Eric Skrmetta (R), who faced ethics concerns over an email with a member of the Gulf State Renewable Energies Industry Association, which lobbies for more lenient rules for the solar energy industry.

Read more about ethics claims and the District 1 race in the race background section. The campaign finance section outlines contributions and expenditures for candidates in both races. Wright and Skrmetta reported more than $200,000 in contributions and $300,000 in expenditures from mid-October to mid-November.

Public Service Commission

Board composition

Two out of five seats on the Louisiana Public Service Commission were up for election in 2014. Each member of the commission is elected to a six-year term.

The board had three Republican members and two Democratic members entering the 2014 election. This board composition remained the same following the election, as Wright and Skrmetta both ran as Republicans.

District Party Commissioner First elected Term ends
1 Republican Party Eric Skrmetta 2008 2020
2 Republican Party Scott Angelle 2012 2018
3 Democratic Party Lambert Boissiere, III 2004 2016
4 Republican Party Clyde Holloway 2009 2015
5 Democratic Party Foster Campbell 2002 2014

Candidates

District 1

Runoff election

Republican Party Eric Skrmetta- Incumbent Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Forest Wright

Lost in primary

Republican Party Allen "Al" Leone

District 5

Democratic Party Foster Campbell- Incumbent Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Keith Gates

District map

Louisiana Public Service Commission map.png

Results

Runoff election

Public Services Commissioner of Louisiana, District 1 Runoff, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngEric Skrmetta Incumbent 50.8% 120,032
     Republican Forest Wright 49.2% 116,042
Total Votes 236,074
Election Results via Louisiana Secretary of State. Vote totals above are unofficial and reflect 100% precincts reporting.

Primary election

Public Services Commissioner of Louisiana, District 1, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngForest Wright 38.4% 99,515
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngEric Skrmetta Incumbent 37% 95,742
     Republican Allen "Al" Leone 24.6% 63,622
Total Votes 258,879
Election Results via Louisiana Secretary of State.
Public Services Commissioner of Louisiana, District 5, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngFoster Campbell Incumbent 61.5% 169,098
     Republican Keith Gates 38.5% 105,918
Total Votes 275,016
Election Results via Louisiana Secretary of State.

Duties

Article 4, Section 21 B of the Louisiana Constitution outlines the powers and duties of the commission:

  • Regulate all common carriers and public utilities and have such other regulatory authority as provided by law.
  • Adopt and enforce reasonable rules, regulations and procedures necessary for the discharge of its duties, and shall have other powers and perform other duties as provided by law.

Race background

Ethics concerns for Skrmetta

Eric Skrmetta (R) attracted attention and challengers for his November re-election bid after ethics concerns emerged in early August. The Times-Picayune published a report on August 5, 2014, detailing an email exchange between the commissioner and Andrew B. Ezell from the Gulf State Renewable Energies Industry Association. This exchange reportedly included a request by Skrmetta for the organization's support ahead of the November election in exchange for his vote in support of more lenient metering policies in Louisiana. Ezell sent the request to members of the association on August 2, only four days prior to commission hearings about lifting the state's limit on payments to consumers using solar panels.[1]

Skrmetta denied wrongdoing or an exchange of favors with solar energy firms following the paper's report. He noted in The Times-Picayune that the commission needed to review metering policy due to concerns about the potential bankruptcy of an unnamed solar firm based in the state. He faced scrutiny from challenger Forest Wright (R) and fellow commissioner Foster Campbell (D), though ultimately won re-election in the December runoff.

Wright, an energy policy advocate based in New Orleans, cited Skrmetta's email as a motivation for his 2014 campaign. Wright and Skrmetta supported lighter regulations on solar installation firms, though Wright was concerned about the alleged quid pro quo involved in Skrmetta's email. He previously sought the District 2 seat on the board in 2012. Campbell, who won re-election to the District 5 seat, was vocal in opposing changes to existing metering policy and alleged that Skrmetta's behavior was "borderline illegal."[1][2]

Issues background
Policypedia
Policypedia Energy logo.jpg
Policy and Elections
Energy policy was a major issue in Louisiana. Find out more about Louisiana Energy policy.
Net metering

Net metering is a billing system where customers who generate their own electricity, usually using renewable sources, such as solar panels, are able to sell their excess electricity back to the grid. This requires electricity to be able to flow both to and from the consumer. According to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency "net metering is required by law in most U.S. states, but state policies vary widely."[3] While many energy experts support net metering, there is debate over the price at which those generating excess power should be compensated. In some states, consumers are compensated at the full retail rate, while other states compensate individual producers at the wholesale rate. Retail electricity rates are the final prices paid by consumers and include the all the costs of that electricity, from generation to delivery. Wholesale electricity rates "include the cost of the fuel used to generate electricity and the cost of buying the power," but do not include the costs of transporting or delivering electricity.[4]

  • Proponents of net metering argue the system is beneficial because it promotes renewable energy and incentivizes consumers to produce their own electricity, which they argue is more efficient. Consumers are often drawn to this program because they can save money by generating their own electricity (as opposed to buying it from a utility company), and they can even receive credit back on their electricity bill for the excess electricity they generated.[5]
  • Opponents of net metering argue that customers who sell their electricity back to the grid at the full electricity price are not paying for the fixed costs associated with power generation, such as wires, poles, meters and other infrastructure. According to these opponents, consumers producing their own energy are often still using power supplied by a utility company when their own generation isn't sufficient. For example, on cloudy days those with solar panels must rely on the grid system for electricity. Instead, opponents argue that consumers should be paid the wholesale price for electricity.[4]

In Louisiana, the commercial, residential and agricultural sectors can take advantage of net metering for solar, wind, biomass, hydroelectric, small hydroelectric, renewable fuel cells, geothermal electric and microturbines. Utilities in Louisiana pay the full retail rate for electricity generated from net metering, but once net metering purchases exceed 0.5 percent of a utility's retail peak load they no longer have to offer net metering.[6] Entergy, which serves approximately 1.07 million electric customers in Louisiana, had already reached 75 percent of its 0.5 percent cap on net metering purchases by February 28, 2014.[7][8]

Endorsements

Skrmetta earned the endorsements of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, the state Republican Party and the Louisiana Sheriff's Organization prior to the November election.[9] Wright received the endorsement of primary candidate Allen "Al" Leone (R) ahead of the December runoff election.[10]

Commission as launching pad

The Louisiana Public Service Commission has served as a stepping stone to higher office in Louisiana. The following chart details past commissioners who eventually won election to the governor's office:[11][12]

Former commissioners who became governors
Name Party Commission service Gubernatorial service
Huey Long Electiondot.png Democratic 1918-1928 1928-1932
Jimmie Davis Electiondot.png Democratic 1942-1944 1944-1948, 1960-1964
John McKeithen Electiondot.png Democratic 1955-1964 1964-1972
Kathleen Blanco Electiondot.png Democratic 1989-1996 2004-2008

Campaign finance

Runoff reporting

Eric Skrmetta and Forest Wright reported contributions and expenditures two weeks prior to the December 6 runoff election. Candidates reported a total of $233,153.27 in contributions and $342,427.40 in expenditures for the reporting period running from October 16 to November 16.[13]

Runoff election fundraising, District 1
Name Party Contributions ($) Expenditures ($) Biggest contributor(s) Biggest contributor(s) total ($)
Eric Skrmetta Ends.png Republican 112,533.27 213,346.46 Associated Branch Pilots
Atmos Energy Corporations PAC
Baton Rouge Water Company
Centerpoint Energy Inc. PAC
Cleco PAC
Kim Ro. Cocklin
David L. Guerry
Jeansonne-Kimble
Laporte PAC
Long Law Firm
Louisiana Water Company
5,000
Forest Wright Ends.png Republican 120,620 129,080.94 Thomas A. Neyhart
Brian C. Stearns
Posigen
Aart E. Leusink
Robert C. Mendoza
Andres Halaburds
Solar Alternatives Inc.
Joule LLC
The Alliance for Solar Choice
Sunrun
Wil-Brothers LLC
Wilhite Solar
O and M
McGuire Real Estate Group, LLC
5,000

Pre-election reporting

All five candidates reported contributions and expenditures 30 days prior to the November 4 election as required by state campaign finance law. Candidates reported a total of $205,985 in contributions and $151,524.06 in expenditures for the reporting period running from July 28 to September 25, 2014.[14]

Pre-election fundraising, District 1
Name Party Contributions ($) Expenditures ($) Biggest contributor(s) Biggest contributor(s) total ($)
Eric Skrmetta Ends.png Republican 90,450 53,178.17 Laney Chouest 5,000
Forest Wright Ends.png Republican 49,265 17,716.27 Willhite Electric Co.
Dirks Companies
KD Homes Builder LLC
5,000
5,000
5,000
Allen "Al" Leone Ends.png Republican 3,400 672.91 Alfred J. Scalise 1,200
Pre-election fundraising, District 5
Name Party Contributions ($) Expenditures ($) Biggest contributor Biggest contributor total ($)
Foster Campbell Electiondot.png Democratic 39,450 70,457.37 W.G. Yates & Sons Construction 5,000
Keith Gates Ends.png Republican 23,420 9,499.34 East Political Action Committee
North Political Action Committee
South Political Action Committee
5,000
5,000
5,000

Campaign media

Eric Skrmetta


Eric Skrmetta ad

Forest Wright


Forest Wright ad: The Real Skrmetta

Outside organizations

A radio ad campaign run by Louisiana Conserves PAC against Skrmetta drew attention late in the runoff campaign. Skrmetta claimed that the ads opposing his re-election bid were misleading and defamed his character. On November 24, 2014, Orleans Parish Judge Paula Brown issued a temporary order to halt the ads.[15]

Louisiana Conserves


Louisiana Conserves ad: We Can't Afford Eric Skrmetta

Past elections

Margin of victory analysis

The average margin of victory in the past five races for seats on the Public Service Commission was 32.8 percent. The smallest margin of victory was 0.9 percent in 2009, while the remaining four elections had margins of victory over 32 percent. The following chart compares the margin of victory for commission candidates with the margin of victory for candidates who won the most votes for the top race on the ballot:[16]

Margin of victory analysis
Year Commission seat Commission margin of victory (%) Party of winning candidate Top race on ballot Party of winning candidate Margin of victory (%)
2012 2 36.7 Republican Party President of the United States Republican Party 17.2
2010 3 50.4 Democratic Party U.S. Senate Republican Party 18.9
2009 4 0.9 Republican Party - - -
2008 1 19.6 Republican Party President of the United States Republican Party 18.6
2008 5 56.2 Democratic Party President of the United States Republican Party 18.6

Notes:

  • No state executive, congressional or federal elections were held in 2009.
  • In presidential election years, the chart details the margin of victory for the candidate who won the most votes in Louisiana.

2012

See also: Louisiana down ballot state executive elections, 2012
Louisiana Public Service Commission, District 2, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngScott Angelle 57.2% 213,485
     Democratic Forest Wright 20.5% 76,336
     Republican Erich Ponti 11.6% 43,287
     Republican Sarah Holliday 7.6% 28,214
     Nonpartisan Greg Gaubert 3.2% 11,758
Total Votes 373,080
Election Results Via: Louisiana Secretary of State

2010

Louisiana Public Service Commission, District 3, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngLambert Boissiere III Incumbent 75.2% 63,253
     Democratic John F. Schwegmann 24.8% 20,821
Total Votes 84,074
Election Results Via: Louisiana Secretary of State

2009

Louisiana Public Service Commission, District 4, 2009
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngClyde Holloway 43.5% 32,258
     Democratic "Joe" McPherson 42.6% 31,610
     Republican Gil Pinac 13.9% 10,280
Total Votes 74,148
Election Results Via: Louisiana Secretary of State

2008

Louisiana Public Service Commission, District 1, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngEric Skrmetta 59.8% 222,272
     Nonpartisan John F. Schwegmann 40.2% 149,227
Total Votes 371,499
Election Results Via: Louisiana Secretary of State


Louisiana Public Service Commission, District 5, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngFoster Campbell Incumbent 78.1% 120,805
     No party affiliation James "Jim" Crowley 21.9% 33,916
Total Votes 154,721
Election Results Via: Louisiana Secretary of State

Key deadlines

Deadline Event
August 20, 2014 First day for candidate qualification
August 22, 2014 Last day for candidate qualification
November 4, 2014 Primary election
November 17, 2014 Final day for vote certification if no runoff election is required
December 6, 2014 General election (if necessary)
December 18, 2014 Final day for vote certification if runoff election is required

Ballotpedia reports

To learn more about developments in this race, check out the following news articles from Ballotpedia: No news has been posted yet for this state.

Recent news

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See also

External links

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Times-Picayune, "Email controversy ensnares Public Service Commission Chair Eric Skrmetta, solar proposal," August 5, 2014
  2. The Advocate, "Solar compromise offered," August 15, 2014
  3. Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, "Glossary," accessed October 22, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 Edison Electric Institute, "Straight Talk About Net Metering," September 2013
  5. Solar Energy industries Alliance, "Net Metering," accessed October 22, 2014
  6. Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, "Louisiana Net Metering," October 19, 2014
  7. Entergy, "Net Metering for Renewable Energy Resources," accessed October 22, 2014
  8. Entergy, "About Us," accessed October 22, 2014
  9. The Times-Picayune, "Industry group backs Eric Skrmetta for Public Service Commission," September 15, 2014
  10. The Times-Picayune, "Public Service Commission candidate Forest Wright picks up endorsement from former rival Al Leone," November 10, 2014
  11. The Times-Picayune, "Public Service Commission finally getting interesting: Jeremy Alford," August 26, 2014
  12. Louisiana Secretary of State, "Find Results and Statistics," accessed September 18, 2014
  13. Louisiana Ethics Administration, accessed December 1, 2014
  14. Louisiana Ethics Administration, accessed October 29, 2014
  15. The Times-Picayune, "Eric Skrmetta says Forest Wright's ad is false in Public Service Commission runoff; judge orders it temporarily off air," November 25, 2014
  16. Louisiana Secretary of State, "Static Results," accessed September 15, 2014