Monday, February 24, 2014

Louisiana's Jungle Primary

Louisiana has an odd little primary, a way of choosing candidates without regard for party affiliation.  This isn't any secret to those of us who live in the state, and we can debate the merits of the system all we like, but I think that our jungle primary serves us well, even if it does lead to some strange outcomes like the 1991 gubernatorial election, which pitted a known crook against a known Klansman.

The way it works is simple.  We set a date for a primary election, and everyone interested in the race throws their hat in the ring, regardless of party affiliation.  If someone wins with a majority, that person is elected and a general election is unnecessary.  If no one wins the primary with 50%+1 vote, then the two vote leaders go to the general election.  Party matters not, and we might have two Republicans, or two Democrats running against each other in the general election.

I mention all this because of a piece Andrew Klavan wrote, over at Pajamas Media, where he bemoans the civil war going on in the Republican party.
We need to talk this out with good sense and without pompous ranting. Politics is the art of the possible. Writing belligerently purist articles, blog posts or comments is relatively easy. Winning elections is hard. Barack Obama is one of the most destructive presidents this country has ever seen, but a talented politician. If stopping him in his tracks requires stomaching some RINOs here and there, it seems a no brainer: It must be done. Ann may have put her case a little too forcefully in the debate above (she’s not exactly given to dithering!), but surely she’s right in the general principle that strategy — and victory — have to come before purity.
I concur.  Louisiana faces a truly important election this year when we decide who  will represent us in the US Senate.  Our sitting senator, Mary Landrieu is the Democrats darling, and is certain to gather an impressive percentage from that side of the aisle.  Mary will certainly be in the runoff.  Her two main challengers are Bill Cassidy, a Republican congressman (and Republican establishment favorite), and Rob Maness, also a Republican (and touting himself as the Republican Alternative).  Cassidy has the backing of the establishment and Maness has the backing of the conservatives.  It's going to be interesting.

What's for certain (and I'm no political seer) is that Louisiana has a history of shocking results in our elections.  Strange things happen in strange electoral procedures, and Senator Landrieu, while certainly a Democratic powerhouse, from a strong political family, is facing a serious challenge during the time when the headwinds are decidedly against her.  The question is; who will oppose her in the runoff?  Will it be the establishment guy, or will it be the newcomer?

This past November, we elected a political newcomer, Vance McAllister to represent Louisiana's 5th congressional district.  McAllister was a true newcomer, had never run for anything in his life and had decided that he could best represent the people of the district.  He won handily over the establishment favorite, a guy named Neil Riser, the establishment Republican.

That's the strength of our Jungle Primary.  Neither Cassidy nor Maness need to spend any money in a bruising Republican primary.  They can both run against Landrieu, and if the political pundits are right, one of them will face her in the general election.  There is no reason to run Tea Party vs Republican Establishment unless Senator Landrieu is defeated in the first election.  This is going to be an interesting election year for Louisiana.


Old NFO said...

Yep, truly interesting it will be!!! And I just hope Landrieu gets sent home!!!

Anonymous said...

The question is still do you vote for the "Best Man" or " Most likely to get 51% in the run off"?