Ballot Box Weekly: Louisiana holds jungle primaries

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October 23, 2013

Edited by Jamie Applegate

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Welcome to the third edition of our new publication, Ballot Box Weekly, a compilation of election coverage from across the various pages on Ballotpedia and Judgepedia. Our weekly series will be published on Wednesday afternoons and cover a range of election news from our projects, including candidate filing deadlines, primaries and elections. The report focuses specifically on the projects covered by the staff of Ballotpedia and Judgepedia: state executives, state legislatures, school boards, State courts, Congress and state and local ballot measures. We'll be bringing you an assortment of elections coverage each week from up and down the ballot. This report is generated by the non-profit, nonpartisan Lucy Burns Institute, the organization that sponsors Ballotpedia and Judgepedia.

This week's Ballot Box Weekly features a look at several elections, including judicial and congressional primaries in Louisiana and a legislative election in Iowa. Read about this and more in this week's report.

This Week in Elections
States with Elections: 3
States with filing deadlines: 1
**Elections covered this week were held in Louisiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa.

What happened at the polls?

A Congressional special election primary took place in Louisiana over the weekend.[1]

Louisiana's 5th Congressional District

Louisiana voters turned out on Saturday to vote in a special election primary for a vacant seat in Louisiana's 5th Congressional District.

The seat was left empty by the resignation of Rep. Rodney Alexander (R), who resigned to take over as the next Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs.

Political newcomer Vance McAllister (R) and two-term state Senator Neil Riser (R) garnered the most votes in the blanket primary election on October 19, 2013 and will face each other in the general election on November 16, 2013.[2]

Riser received approximately 32 percent of the overall vote, but was not able to pass the 50 percent threshold needed in order to win the seat outright. McAllister came in second in a field of 13 other candidates with about 18 percent of the overall vote.[2]

Louisiana uses a blanket primary, where all candidates run on one primary ballot, regardless of party. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote recipients advance to a runoff that determines the winner of the seat, regardless of party affiliation.[3] Because no candidate secured more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary, Riser and McAllister will face off in the runoff election to decide the winner of the seat.[3] Both candidates are Republicans, which assures that the seat will not change in party control.

Turnout for the open primary was low, with less than 22 percent of voters showing up at the polls.[4]

Some controversy has surrounded the race and, in particular, perceived front-runner State senator Neil Riser. Several candidates accused Gov. Bobby Jindal and outgoing Rep. Rodney Alexander of alerting 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.[5] Riser, Alexander and Jindal's offices have all denied the claims.[6]

Riser was seen as the front-runner, having led in polls prior to the primary and campaign fundraising, and was widely expected to receive the most votes in the open primary.[7]

McAllister was a surprise winner for second place, after pouring his own money into the race and having the support of the popular "Duck Dynasty" television series star Phil Robertson.[8]

Louisiana's 5th Congressional District is considered 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]

Election Coverage across Ballotpedia/Judgepedia -- October 19-25, 2013
Race Date Number of Seats Up for Election
Louisiana's 5th Congressional District primary October 19, 2013 1
Louisiana Judicial Elections October 19, 2013 20
Wisconsin Assembly Districts 21 & 69 primaries October 22, 2013 2
Iowa House of Representatives District 33 October 22, 2013 1

Upcoming Candidate Filing Deadlines

Race Filing Deadline Election Date
Iowa Senate District 13 Friday, October 25, 2013, at 5 p.m. November 19, 2013[11][1]

Looking ahead: upcoming elections

Here are some noteworthy elections coming up in the next few weeks.

Quote of the Week

"Over 500 donors have contributed to our campaign and have shown that they believe in our conservative message of getting America back on track."
-- Louisiana State Senator Neil Riser after his October 19 primary election[12]

Highlighted profile

Jan Angel is a Republican member of the Washington House of Representatives, representing District 26a. She is currently running for election in the special election for Washington State Senate District 26.

The election is for the remaining year of Derek Kilmer (D)'s term. Angel will face incumbent Nathan Schlicher (D) in the special election, which takes place on November 5.[13] Schlicher was appointed earlier this year to fill Kilmer's vacancy for the 2013 legislative session.

As of October 19, more than $1.9 million has been spent on this race, making it the most expensive state legislative campaign in Washington history. The candidates themselves reported spending nearly $950,000, while outside spending accounted for $1 million. More than half of that money has been spent in opposition of Angel.

This campaign has drawn significant interest because the Republican-led coalition currently holds a one-vote majority in the chamber.[14]

Elections scoreboard

There was one general election and 25 primary elections this week.[1]

Elections Scoreboard -- Breaking Down the Ballot Box
General Election Results Analysis
Total races 1
Incumbents running 0
Total uncontested races 0
 % seats won by Democratic candidate 100%
 % seats won by Republican candidate 0%
 % seats won by Independents 0%
Primary Elections Results Analysis
Total primary elections 25**
Incumbents running for re-election 0
Total contested primaries 15
Total uncontested primaries 10
**This includes elections for 20 Judicial seats in Louisiana.

Election highlights

It's always election season somewhere. Here are some snippets of election news across the various Lucy Burns Institute project areas.


Legislative elections covered this week consisted entirely of special elections. State legislatures had a busy week, with a special election for Iowa's House of Representatives and two primary elections in Wisconsin.


Two special election primaries were held in Wisconsin on October 22, for Wisconsin Assembly Districts 21 & 69. The primaries, which will lead to the general election on November 19, were held to fill two vacant seats in the Wisconsin Assembly. An election was held in Wisconsin State Assembly District 21 after Rep. Mark Honadel (R) resigned on September 16, 2013, to take a job in the private sector. A primary was also held in Wisconsin State Assembly District 69 to fill a seat left empty by Rep. Scott Suder(R), who resigned on September 2, 2013, to take a job as an administrator with the state Public Service Commission.

Wisconsin State Assembly District 21

Democratic PartyOctober 22 Democratic Primary:
Republican PartyOctober 22 GOP Primary:
November 19 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party Elizabeth Coppola
Republican Party Jessie Rodriguez

Wisconsin State Assembly District 69

Democratic PartyOctober 22 Democratic Primary:
Republican PartyOctober 22 GOP Primary:
Third-party candidates:
Independent Tim Swiggum (Putting People Ahead of Politics)
November 19 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party Kenneth A. Slezak
Republican Party Bob Kulp
Independent Tim Swiggum (Putting People Ahead of Politics)


Iowa held an election on October 22 for an empty seat in their House of Representatives. An empty seat in House of Representatives District 33 was filled by the election with Democrat Brian Meyer claiming victory over Republican Michael Young. The seat was empty following the resignation of Kevin McCarthy (D) on August 15, 2013, to work in the Iowa Attorney General's office.

Iowa House of Representatives District 33

October 22 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party Brian Meyer Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Michael Young

While no school board elections were held this week, there were several developments in school board races across the county.[1]


A forum was held for Douglas County School District school board candidates in Colorado on October 20. The forum, the last of five before the election, asked the eight candidates questions on everything from their goals if elected to what they thought the most important issues facing the district were.[15]

Four seats on the board of the Douglas County School Board of Directors are up for countywide election in on November 15, covering Districts B, D, E and G. There are seven board seats total in Douglas County divided by geographic districts.


Controversy struck Minnesota's Anoka-Hennepin School District elections last week. On October 15, 2013, District 3 candidate Grace Baltich removed posts from her campaign's Facebook page that were plagiarized from other sources without proper citation. Baltich released a statement following the incident saying, "Yesterday, it was brought to my attention that my campaign's Facebook page had several postings that were not properly attributed to the original authors of the content. I would first like to apologize on behalf of my campaign for these unfortunate errors."[16] She denied knowledge of the plagiarism prior to the content's removal, but accepted responsibility for the error.[16] Word of the plagiarism began to spread to district parents via an e-mail chain, and local reporter Sarah Horner noted that several of the plagiarized passages originated from the National Education Association and the Ohio Department of Education websites. The district's teachers union, Anoka-Hennepin Education Minnesota, has already endorsed Baltich but will reconsider that endorsement in light of this controversy.

November 5th Elections

A total of 203 school districts among the largest districts by enrollment in the United States will be holding elections for 663 seats on that day. States electing school board members include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington. Major issues include financial policies and changing education standards, including the implementation of new federal Common Core standards in some states. The number of seats up in different states include:

  • California: 114 seats
  • Colorado: 51 seats
  • Connecticut: 35 seats
  • Massachusetts: 40 seats
  • Ohio: 54 seats
  • Pennsylvania: 60 seats
  • Texas: 32 seats
  • Virginia: 28 seats
  • Washington: 78 seats

Several state executive official races had developments this week.


Dan Wolf, a Democratic member of the Massachusetts State Senate, has dropped out of the 2014 Massachusetts gubernatorial election race following controversy surrounding his 23 percent holding in Massachusetts airline Cape Air. Wolf had previously entered the 2014 Democratic primary race to succeed Deval Patrick as Governor of Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts State Ethics Commission ruled on August 2, 2013 that Wolf cannot become governor or hold his current state senate seat unless he sells his 23 percent holding in Cape Air.[17][18] Wolf founded Cape Air 25 years ago, though today it is an employee-owned business. The company has contracts with the Massachusetts Port Authority, which is a quasi-public agency. Its board is controlled by the Governor.[17]

Wolf denied there was a conflict of interest, despite the agreements between Cape Air and the Port Authority, because the agreements go back to 2002 and are automatically renewed. "[19]

On August 22, 2013, Wolf announced his impending resignation and suspension of his campaign for governor in the event that the Commission does not reverse its decision. While maintaining that there was not a conflict of interest, Wolf said that terminating the contracts would have adverse economic consequences, and ending his involvement with Cape Air would hurt the company. Wolf's resignation was due to take effect on August 29, 2013 barring a reversal from the commission. On August 26, 2013, Wolf requested an extension in order to submit a petition; the commission granted it the following day. Wolf had until September 19, 2013 to either comply with the conflict-of-interest law or resign.[20][21]


Sam Houston (D) announced on October 17 that he will be joining the 2014 Texas Attorney General Election, which will take place on November 4, 2014.[22] He joins five other candidates who have declared so far.



Several elections were held on October 19 for Louisiana court seats. A total of 20 seats total were up for election on district courts, juvenile courts, justice of the peace courts, parish courts, magistrate courts, and traffic courts. Eight judges were elected outright after receiving more than 50% of the vote, including judges in the Cameron Parish Justice Court, De Soto Parish Justice Court, East Feliciana Parish Justice Court, Grant Parish Justice Court,Lincoln Parish Justice Court, Madison Parish Justice Court, Morehouse Parish Justice Court, Jefferson Parish Court, Meanwhile, 12 judges will advance to the general election on November 16.

In Louisiana, Judges compete in a blanket primary against candidates of all parties. If no candidate receives 50% of the vote (a "majority vote"), the top two candidates run against each other in the general election.[29] The Louisiana judicial elections consist of a municipal primary on April 6th, a municipal general on May 4th, an open primary on October 19th and a open general on November 16th.[30]

Endorsements were made by the Senate Conservatives Fund, while resignations changed the state of the race for Arkansas's 2nd Congressional District.


Representative Tim Griffin, the Republican representative for Arkansas's 2nd Congressional District, announced that he will not be seeking re-election to the seat in 2014, citing a desire to spend more time with family.[31]

Griffin said, "It has been an agonizing and difficult decision involving much prayer, thought and discussion. We have decided that now is the time for me to focus intently on my top priority, my family, as Elizabeth and I raise our two young children."[31]

Senate Conservatives Fund

The Senate Conservatives Fund, a Political Action Committee (PAC), made its endorsements of Senate candidates recently. As a PAC, the group can spend money on elections, but is not run by a party or individual candidate. The Senate Conservatives Fund states that its goal is to elect "strong conservative leaders to the United States Senate." Among the issues a candidate must support to receive the group's endorsement are: stopping sending, repealing Obamacare, enforcing immigration, defending the 2nd amendment, banning bailouts, ending earmarks and protecting life.[32]

Endorsed candidates

No ballot measures were voted on this week, but many will be voted on in the upcoming month.[1] The statewide ballots are officially set in six states - Colorado, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Washington - for the general election on November 5, 2013. A total of 31 ballot questions were certified for 6 statewide ballots in 2013. While ballot measure numbers are low this year, campaign finance activity has also been relatively low.

A total of $34,214,967 was contributed to ballot measures in 2013, according to official reports filed as of October 22, 2013. As of October 22, 2013, only five measures - including all three of the initiated state statutes - have received campaign donations for one or both sides of the issues. Texas' Prop 6 ranked third in terms of money raised, however as of yet, there are no campaign contributions to the opposition. In Colorado, Amendment 66, which would increase the state income tax in order to provide an additional $950 million for public education funding, has raised the most money in support of a measure in 2013, raking in $7,864,366.

By comparison, a total of 188 ballot questions were certified for 39 statewide ballots in 2012 with $491,026,994.64 contributed to the measures, according to official reports filed as of December 2012.

In 2011, a total of 34 ballot questions were certified for 9 statewide ballots with $85,726,675.61 in contributions, according to official reports filed as of December 2011.

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 These figures refer only to the elections that are covered by Ballotpedia and Judgepedia staff. They may not be comprehensive. If you would like to send details about an election not covered, contact us
  2. 2.0 2.1 Louisiana Secretary of State, "U. S. Representative -- 5th Congressional District," accessed October 19, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 Roll Call, "Riser, McAllister Advance to Runoff in Louisiana House Special Election," accessed October 19, 2013
  4. The Republic, "Riser and McAllister headed to November runoff for Louisiana's 5th District congressional seat," accessed October 19, 2013
  5. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named error
  6., "Louisiana Sen. Neil Riser says FEC made mistake in candidacy records," accessed October 23, 2013
  7. Roll Call, "Special Election Whirlwind Week Starts Today," accessed October 17, 2013
  8. Fresno Bee, "Riser and McAllister in runoff for 5th District," accessed October 19, 2013
  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. Iowa Secretary of State, "State Senate District 13 Special Election - 11/19/2013," accessed October 23, 2013
  12., "Republicans dominate the money race for Louisiana's 5th Congressional District," accessed October 23, 2013
  13., "Gig Harbor's Nathan Schlicher Will Replace Derek Kilmer in State Legislature," August 19, 2013
  14., "Big money pouring into Wash. Senate race," October 20, 2013
  15. 'Colorado Community Media, "Q&As with candidates for Douglas County School Board," October 17, 2013
  16. 16.0 16.1 Grace Baltich for All Kids - Anoka-Hennepin Dist. 11 School Board, "Parents Deserve to Know…," October 16, 2013 (dead link)
  17. 17.0 17.1, "Wolf vows to continue campaign despite ethics ruling on his ownership of Cape Air," accessed August 8, 2013
  18. CommonWealth Magazine, "Massachusetts Ethics Commission Ruling," accessed August 8, 2013
  19. CommonWealth, "Wolf: Ethics ruling bars run for governor," accessed August 8, 2013
  20. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named fox
  21. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named cc
  22. 'Texas Politics, "Democrat announces bid for Attorney General," October 17, 2013
  23. Texas Tribune, "Smitherman to Announce Run For Attorney General," June 24, 2013
  24. Austin Statesman, "Branch announces candidacy for attorney general," July 23, 2013
  25. The Texas Tribune, "Ken Paxton Announces Bid for Attorney General," August 1, 2013
  26. Houston Chronicle, "Democrat announces bid for Attorney General," October 17, 2013
  27. KENS5, "Libertarian Kathie Glass announces bid for Texas governor," October 2, 2013
  28. Email communication from Billy Wayne Engle Jr. to Ballotpedia, October 10, 2013
  29. Louisiana Secretary of State, "How are Candidates Elected?"
  30. Louisiana SOS 2013 Election Dates (dead link)
  31. 31.0 31.1 Politico, "Arkansas Rep. Tim Griffin won't seek re-election in 2014," October 21, 2013
  32. Senate Conservatives Fund, "About," accessed September 17, 2013
  33. Senate Conservatives Fund, "Endorsements," accessed October 22, 2013