BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Think you've had enough of elections after last year's U.S. Senate race and this year's governor's race? Buck up, Louisiana voters, you've got another year to go, and the next round of races are looking like another competitive doozy.
As soon as the governor's race had wrapped up, jockeying for the 2016 U.S. Senate race began. With an open seat, it seems anyone with a higher political aspiration wants to be included on the list of possible candidates.
More than a dozen potential contenders have been named so far, and voters won't cast ballots until November, at the same time as the presidential election.
Republican David Vitter's announcement that he wouldn't run for re-election to a third term as U.S. senator after losing the governor's race to Democrat John Bel Edwards was the unofficial kickoff of the Senate race.
Already announced and running are two GOP congressmen: Charles Boustany of Lafayette, a retired surgeon in his sixth term representing southwest Louisiana, and John Fleming of Minden, a doctor and businessman in office since 2009 representing northwest Louisiana.
At least one other GOP contender, retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness — who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate last year — has filed federal paperwork indicating plans to run.
Several other high-profile Republicans in Louisiana are eyeing the race, including well-known Treasurer John Kennedy and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, who ran third in the governor's race this year.
Still others on the GOP side have suggested they're considering getting into the competition: former U.S. Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao, state Rep. Paul Hollis, Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta, and outgoing Jefferson Parish President John Young.
And those are just the Republicans.
Democratic candidates have been a bit slower to emerge for the race.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has said he won't run for the Senate seat, but Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell is considering a campaign. Also talked about as potential Democratic contenders are state Sen. Gary Smith and Caroline Fayard, a lawyer who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2010.
State Sen. Eric LaFleur said he's meeting with consultants in early January to weigh a possible run.
That's still not all for the maybe-candidate list.
Troy Hebert, a former state senator with no party affiliation who has worked as Alcohol and Tobacco Control commissioner for term-limited Gov. Bobby Jindal, is also mentioned as interested in the Senate race.
Imagine trying to fit all those candidates on a debate stage.
Certainly, some politicians just like to have their names in the mix and won't actually run for the job. But even if less than half of those on the list jump into the race, that could make for a ferocious, high-dollar competition.
For voters weary of wall-to-wall political commercials, attack ads and mailboxes filled with campaign pitches, brace yourself. The final months of 2016 appear likely to be a repeat of this past fall and the fall before that with candidates and outside political groups poised to spend millions ahead of the November election.
Meanwhile, with Boustany and Fleming seeking to move to Congress' upper chamber, they'll create new vacancies for the 3rd and 4th Congressional District seats they currently occupy. Already names are surfacing for those races.
Angelle is weighing whether to skip the Senate race and seek Boustany's U.S. House seat instead, which political prognosticators suggest would be an easier competition for him to win.
Republican state Rep. Stuart Bishop of Lafayette is considering the 3rd District race, as is state Rep. Brett Geymann, a Republican from the Lake Charles area who is term-limited and leaves office in January.
For the 4th District, GOP state Rep. Mike Johnson of Bossier City is expected to enter the race. Other names have turned up as well.
Expect the announcements of candidacies for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House races to start rolling in shortly after the new year begins, just as Edwards is starting to settle into the governor's mansion.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Melinda Deslatte covers Louisiana politics for The Associated Press. Follow her at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte
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Posted on Tue, December 29, 2015
by MELINDA DESLATTE Associated Press