Our Views: Big runoffs on the ballot

While it may feel like we only just voted, it’s time to do it again.

From Baton Rouge to New Orleans to Lafayette, significant runoff elections will be on many ballots today.

In the Baton Rouge area, a runoff will select a new member of the Louisiana Supreme Court, to replace the retiring Chief Justice Kitty Kimball. The two top vote-getters in the Nov. 6 primary were two appeals court judges, John Michael Guidry, of Baton Rouge, and Jeff Hughes, of Walker.

In a twist, Guidry, the Democrat, wins support from major business interests and Hughes, a Republican, has gained more support from prominent groups associated with plaintiff lawyers.

There is also, in parts of East Baton Rouge Parish, two runoffs for Metro Council, with incumbent Smokie Bourgeois facing challenger John Delgado. An open seat is being sought by Leroy Davis and Chauna Banks-Daniel.

In the New Orleans area, there’s a significant tax election to increase the 911 fee on telephone bills, to improve the service in Orleans Parish. And there are runoffs for two seats on the City Council, with Dana Kaplan and LaToya Cantrell competing for the open seat in District B. In District E, Austin Badon and James Gray are in a runoff.

But the biggest election by far — by several measures — is the runoff for the newly configured District 3 in the U.S. House of Representatives, covering southwest Louisiana, including Lake Charles and Lafayette.

It was the former 7th District, before redistricting threw two Republican incumbents into the race. U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, of Lafayette, led the primary with almost 45 percent, but not enough to avoid a runoff with U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, of New Iberia.

It’s a big race in terms of money spent, in the vicinity of $4 million for Boustany and $2 million for Landry, and vituperative charges between the two campaigns.

The election does not change the partisan makeup of the U.S. House, as both are in the GOP, but the two conservatives reflect differing approaches to some issues within the GOP caucus. Boustany is closer to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and the leadership. Landry is more associated with the “tea party” insurgents.

As always, the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office maintains a useful GeauxVote database of sample ballots at www.sos.la.gov. We encourage citizens to check these resources and cast an informed vote today. Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.