The ballot for the 10 March open primary for the open Louisiana State House District 94 seat, recently abandoned by Peppi Bruneau, a New Orleans Republican who held this seat since 1974, is set. Here is how the ballot will appear for the special election:
State Representative, 94th Representative District
0 of 53 precincts reporting
Click here for Results by Precinct
0 0% Philip C. Brickman, R –
0 0% “Jeb” Bruneau, R –
0 0% John M. Holahan, Jr., D –
0 0% Deborah J. Langhoff, D –
0 0% Nicholas J. “Nick” Lorusso, R –
0 0% William “Bill” Vanderwall, Sr., D –
Louisiana House District 94,
located in the northwestern corner of Orleans Parish, encompasses the Lake Vista, Lakeshore, Lake Terrace, Lake Oaks, Lakewood, Lakeview, Country Club Gardens, Parkview and City Park neighborhoods as well as parts of Mid-City, Gentilly and Faubourg St John. Traditionally Republican, the voters of District 94 and of northwestern New Orleans have shown signs of shifting their political allegiances. For in 2006 they ousted Republican incumbent Jay Batt in the City Council District A race and replaced him with Democratic newcomer Shelley Stephenson Midura, who ran an aggressive grassroots campaign that included everything from humorous television commercials to women clad in aprons protesting and marching on Carrollton Avenue. Although some claim Midura’s 52-48 victory over Jay Batt in the 2006 runoff was an anomaly that was largely the result of population shifts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, others maintain her victory was undergirded by voters’ distrust of incumbent politicians who were viewed as aloof, corrupt and unresponsive to the needs of the citizens they were elected to represent.
Midura’s 2006 victory is apposite to this discussion of the special election for LA-HD94 for many reasons: Midura’s City Council A District,
although it contains Democratic precincts in Uptown and Mid-City not included in LA-HD94, is similar in shape and composition to LA-HD94; the open primaries for Midura’s race as well as the race for LA-HD94 contain large fields of candidates along with a vulnerable Republican incumbent, although in the case of LA-HD94 Jeb Bruneau is not the incumbent but the heir apparent of Bruneau père, who is attempting to transfer power from father to son; and Midura’s campaign consultant, Michael Beychok, has been hired by Democratic challenger Deborah Langhoff, a movement candidate who similar to Midura is running a campaign that highlights the corruption and cronyism of the Republican heir apparent while promising to provide overdue advocacy and representation for the beleaguered LA-HD94 voters who are still trying to recover and rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In other words, Langhoff is running on a compelling message of change, and she is using Midura’s victorious 2006 campaign as a model.
Deborah Langhoff is a political activist, small business owner and community organizer who understands the plight of the constituents she desires to serve: a resident of Lake Vista, her home was destroyed in Katrina. She also has the political and community experience to wage a winning campaign: she founded Democrats in Jeans, a network of Louisiana Democrats who organized to provide assistance to hurricane survivors in the wake of Katrina; she is a Founding Member of the Citizens’ Road Home Action Team, a group who organized on the New Orleans Wiki who desire to ensure everyone receives their Road Home Program funds; she created LaRoots.net, a private database project that sustains and nutures grassroots organization in Louisiana that began as KerryRoots.net during the 2004 Presidential race; she and the group surrounding her who call themselves Beaucoup Blues organized with Jim Dean and Democracy for America in 2005 in order to “turn Louisiana blue;” and she has created and volunteered for multiple arts education programs in public schools in New Orleans. In other words, Langhoff is the real deal, and her grassroots organization skills will be a huge benefit to the Democratic Party in Louisiana and in the United States as a whole.
Langhoff definitely has a chance of qualifying for the runoff and beating Jeb Bruneau, the presumed frontrunner, with the right amount of effort and funds. LA-HD94 is comprised of 53 precincts, 42 of which are located in Midura’s City Council A District. Midura won 10 of these 42 precincts, garnering 3,419 votes to Batt’s 5,385, or 38.8% to Batt’s 61.2%. The precincts Midura won are located in Mid-City and Parkview, while Batt one in precincts located in Navarre, Lakewood, West End, Lakeview, Lakeshore, Lake Vista, Lake Terrace and Lake Oaks. LA-HD94 does contain a Mid-City precinct not included in Midura’s City Council A District, and it also includes 2 in Faubourg St. John, also Democratic, and 5 in Fillmore, which is a lot more Democratic than the precincts located along Lake Pontchartrain and the Metarie Canal, where Batt beat Midura, sometimes by large margins. LA-HD94 also contains 3 Lake Terrace and Lake Oaks precincts not located in Midura’s City Council A District. A resident of Lake Vista, Langhoff will be able to reduce Republican margins in these precincts. Midura’s 2006 victory also provides Langhoff with a precedent with which to lure voters to take her candidacy seriously.
Although Langhoff will have to fight in order to win this seat, it is definitely feasible: she is the only woman on the ballot; there are no other races on the ballot on 10 March, which makes the open primary and the runoff turnout elections, especially as one other special election for the LA House in Orleans Parish in the wake of Katrina, LA-HD97, had very low turnout in the open primary and in the runoff, 2,300 and 5,400 votes respectively, when turnout for such races is normally about 9,000 to 10,000 votes; and Langhoff is exploiting, indeed exacerbating, a general distrust voters have for incumbent politicians, especially local politicians who failed to keep their constituents safe while never delivering the services they promised.
Visit Deborah Langhoff’s website, and consider contributing to her campaign. Not only will her victory enable us to gain a LA House seat and thereby ensure that chamber is in Democratic hands for redistricting; her victory will be the first signal to the Louisiana GOP that they will have a big fight on their hands when they try to take over both state legislative chambers later this year.