Politics

Kennedy Likely Bet in Louisiana Senate Runoff

But cash flows for Democrat Campbell as Saturday vote nears

Louisiana Republican Senate candidate John Kennedy greets a guest at his election night party in Baton Rouge on Nov. 8. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Though increased national attention and a late cash influx has buoyed Foster Campbell’s bid for Louisiana's open Senate seat, experts say Republican rival John Kennedy has the race all but locked up.

Campbell, a longtime Public Service Commissioner and self-proclaimed "pro-gun, pro-life" Democrat," will face off against State Treasurer John Kennedy in a Saturday runoff election.

Less than a week from the runoff, Kennedy leads by double-digit margins, according to CBS News. And in Louisiana, an increasingly red state save for its urban Democratic strongholds like New Orleans and Baton Rouge, that margin is likely to hold.

Louisiana political experts say Kennedy just needs to avoid mistakes at this point.

“He’s going to sit there and wait for election night. He doesn’t really have to campaign a lot,” Bernie Pinsonat, a Louisiana pollster told CBS.

The runoff will decide who becomes the last senator to join the 115th Congress, and could give Democrats leverage on contested legislation going forward, though Republicans will maintain control of both chambers no matter what happens in Louisiana. 

Campbell’s campaign had hoped for a repeat of the 2015 gubernatorial race, in which now-Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, beat out Republican Sen. David Vitter

Campbell, like Edwards, is more socially and fiscally conservative than many of his Democratic counterparts, but won support by disavowing big business and Wall Street and championing environmental causes. 

Campbell and Kennedy are the last two standing from a 24-candidate field. In Louisiana's “jungle primary” system the top two finishers advance to a runoff regardless of political party affiliation.

In the weeks following the presidential election, Kennedy ramped up his pro-Trump campaign rhetoric, latching on to Trump's “drain the swamp” mantra and stumping with Vice President-elect Mike Pence at various events over the weekend. 

The Senate race isn’t Louisiana’s only runoff. The 3rd and 4th districts, in the southeast and northwest corners of the state, respectively, are dealing with tight contests as well. 

Democrat Marshall Jones and Republican Mike Johnson are competing to replace Republican Rep. John Fleming in the 4th. Fleming vacated his seat in the hopes of succeeding Vitter in the Senate, but lost out in the primary.

Scott Angelle and Clay Higgins, both Republicans, will duke it out for the chance to represent Louisiana's 3rd district. Whomever wins will replace incumbent Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. who also threw his hat in the Senate race. 

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.