Our Views: At the gate, a year early

We’re amid qualifying for the big U.S. Senate race this fall, and voters go to the polls in November. But despite what seems to be more urgent political deadlines, Louisiana politicos are abuzz with another election a year away.

Ours is one of the few states with off-year elections. Unlike the federal offices, the governor and state legislators are subject to term limits. That means more political competition in the 2015 races.

The absence of two-term Gov. Bobby Jindal from the ballot means an opening in the state’s most influential office, but that also opens at least one other statewide office, since Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, of Baton Rouge, seeks to move up next year.

Another statewide officeholder, Treasurer John N. Kennedy, of Madisonville, potentially could run for governor, creating another opening.

Even with so much attention now focused on this fall’s federal offices, several candidates are already throwing their names in for lieutenant governor. They include three parish presidents — Kip Holden, of East Baton Rouge; John Young, of Jefferson; and Billy Nungesser, of Plaquemines — and potentially a state senator, Elbert Guillory, of Opelousas.

Holden is the lone Democrat, and as a former state legislator has probably the fullest ré sumé of the bunch for state office. But Nungesser unsuccessfully sought the job before, so he has recognition around the state; his late father was a top aide to the late Gov. David C. Treen. Young is a popular president of one of the state’s largest parishes, and he’s been active in coastal issues.

Each will bring differing qualifications and views to the office, but the politics of the campaign are already being parsed: Will the two candidates from greater New Orleans divide that vote? Is the African-American Republican, Guillory, a wild card? Is Holden going to be the only Democrat in the race, and if so, is he assured a runoff spot?

All we can say is that it is awfully early to speculate, and the field will only be set for certain at qualifying — one solid year away.