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Midterm Elections (August)

Polling places will be opening their doors once again this November. Now two years out from the 2016 Presidential Election, the Midterm Elections take their place at the center of American politics. At stake in these elections is a host of congressional, state and local positions.

All six of Louisiana’s US House Districts will be up for re-election this fall. Still, the opposition to incumbents seems fairly sparse.

At the moment, the most interesting of the races is in the Third District. Republican Clay Higgins of Port Barre is the only incumbent to face a challenge from within his own party.

While Higgins has managed to raise just over $200,000 with the help of President Donald Trump, Republican Josh Guillory of Lafayette has received significant contributions from Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. At around $95,000, Guillory’s current funding puts him on somewhat-equal footing compared to the larger disparity in the five other districts. 

In the First District, Republican incumbent Steve Scalise is competing in a much more lopsided contest. As of July, Scalise was reported to have close to $2 million in available funding. With the five other candidates in the race having a combined $30,000, Scalise appears to have an insurmountable advantage going into the general election.

Republican incumbent Garrett Graves of Baton Rouge finds himself in a similar situation in the Sixth District. Graves, who has around $1.9 million in funding, will be competing against three candidates whose combined total fundraising amount is just over $5,000.

More so than anything, the congressional races show the importance of party and corporate endorsement. Without it, many candidates find themselves without the adequate funding to compete on any meaningful level.

While Louisiana is largely devoid of funding to opposition candidates, other states have seen the injection of funds into their congressional races as political leaders and corporate influencers have taken notice of potential political battlegrounds.

Beyond the congressional races, there are also some very interesting ballot initiatives. In the context of the legal profession, Louisiana Amendment 2 proposes unanimous jury verdicts for felony trials.

Currently, felony convictions require 10 out of 12 jurors to agree. This amendment would require all 12 jurors to vote in favor of conviction. Ultimately, the amendment may make it more difficult for the state to convict for felony crimes.

Louisiana is currently one of two states which still allow for felony conviction without unanimous agreement. The only other state to do so is Oregon.

The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled on this issue in Apodaca v. Oregon (1972). In its holding, the court found that federal criminal trials must be unanimous in nature, but that states were not bound within their own courts.

Louisianians will also be electing a number of officials on the state and local level. One of the positions to be voted on during the midterm elections is a Louisiana Supreme Court position. Louisiana is one of 38 states that feature an election to decide who will hold a spot on the state Supreme Court.

Realistically though, the most hard-fought battles will be on the local level, as members of the community vie for the few district judge and school board positions.

As a whole, these state and local races are often overshadowed by the larger congressional races in battleground states, though this is not without good reason.

While the Louisiana congressional races are largely inconsequential in terms of power in Washington, the effects of elections in other states hold the very real possibility of a power shift. This shift, of course, would be in relation to control of the two Congressional Houses, which Republicans currently hold.

However, some districts who voted for President Trump in the 2016 election, like Kentucky, West Virginia and North Carolina, have seen competitive activity from Democrats,. Still, as 2016 showed, districts may at times swing more conservative or liberal depending on voter turnout and priority issues.

Regardless of the result, the consequences of the Midterm Elections stand to affect not just national politics, but also our very own communities.

 

 

Law Student

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