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All eyes on Louisiana's lieutenant governor election

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July 28, 2011

By Lauren Rodgers

Louisiana

Baton Rouge, LA: It isn't often that an off-year lieutenant governor election creates much of a buzz. In Louisiana, though, the 2011 election for the state's second-in-command is shaping up to be more important than ever.

In the state's gubernatorial election, the current Republican governor Bobby Jindal holds a substantial fund-raising advantage over his only challenger thus far, Tara Hollis. With less than two months to qualify for the race, the Democratic Party remains hopeful that state senator Robert Marionneaux will throw his hat in the ring, but he remains undecided.[1]

In the mean time, attention has turned to the race for lieutenant governor. Louisiana is one of 6 states that holds separate primary elections for governor and lieutenant governor. With less than three months until the primary election, only two candidates have announced their intention to run - current Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser. As July 28, no Democratic candidates have indicated they will run.

With the exception of the presidential preference primary, Louisiana uses an open primary system often referred to as a "jungle primary." All candidates, regardless of political affiliation, run in one primary where voters are not bound to vote for a candidate from their own party. Ordinarily, the top two vote-earners, who may be from the same party, will advance to a runoff. However, if one candidate wins a majority, he or she is considered to have won the election. If these two candidates are the only ones who qualify with the secretary of state by the September 8 deadline, the race is guaranteed to be decided in the October primary.

Perhaps more curious than the lack of Democratic candidates, though, is the implication this race has for the state's gubernatorial election of 2015. At that time, Jindal will be term-limited from seeking a third consecutive term in office and the seat will be open. Whoever wins this year's lieutenant gubernatorial race could be in a prime position to run for governor in 2015.[2]

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