OPINION

It's all GOP at the top, and pretty much that way across state politics now

When the first Republican governor since Reconstruction took office in 1980, there were fewer than 10 Republicans in the Louisiana Legislature, out of 144 members.

Times have really changed.

Saturday's runoff elections were almost a GOP sweep.

Yes, that much was expected, but it was still a solid result for the party that was once declared so small that its meetings could be held in phone booths.

Republican Gov.-elect Jeff Landry won in the primary, a remarkable result in itself. Then, in Saturday's runoffs, his party completed a clean sweep of all seven statewide elected offices.

The marquee race was the contest for attorney general. Landry's deputy, Liz Murrill of Baton Rouge, trounced her Democratic opponent by a two-to-one margin. Murrill's strong showing was matched by two other GOP statewide candidates.

Former state Rep. Nancy Landry of Lafayette, who more recently has served as the first assistant Secretary of State, handily won the race to succeed her boss, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, who chose not to seek reelection.

Landry and Murrill will be the first women to hold their respective positions in the state.

Meanwhile, former U.S. Rep. John Fleming of Minden, will be Louisiana's new state treasurer.

Elsewhere, the handful of legislative races left undecided by the October primary generally fell to Republican candidates or were decided in Republican-only runoffs.

The Legislature now has a two-thirds majority of Republican members in both the House and Senate.

"Sweep" hardly encompasses the dimension of these wins.

Rare exceptions were in Black-majority districts where there were Democrat vs. Democrat runoffs, including several in Shreveport. And there, by a margin of only one vote in the primary, a Democrat led in the race for Caddo Parish sheriff; a recount will determine the official result.

Typically, other than in major cities, outposts of dissent in the red sea of elections, Republicans have been finding congenial electorates across Louisiana.

Where does this cycle's dismal performance leave Louisiana's embattled Democratic Party? Racial divisions along party lines are nothing new, but their prevalence will continue to challenge Democrats.

The old adage, "Defeat is an orphan, but victory has many parents," applies to both parties. While Dems mourn, the GOP family may begin quarreling over the spoils even before Landry and his statewide colleagues take office on Jan. 8.

Louisiana has seen one-party rule before, as in 1980, but Democrats back then were just like today's GOP -- factional divisions and internecine squabbles have defined Louisiana politics for almost a century.

Nor have the election results rendered geopolitics obsolete: Each section of Louisiana has specific needs; the new leadership's challenge will be addressing them in a balanced way.

With almost complete power comes a heavier-than-usual load of responsibility.

We congratulate the winners and look forward to what they will do in their new offices.

-- The Advocate. November 21, 2023.

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