WELCOME TO THE RUNOFF

This story was first published for subscribers to LaPolitics Weekly on Oct. 19, 2017. Wish you would have read it then? Subscribe now!

Secretary of State Tom Schedler’s team conducted a quick review of three and a half decades worth of statewide elections and still couldn’t find a turnout lower than what voters produced this past weekend. (That would be a turnout of 13.6 percent, or 405,682 voters, based on the first constitutional amendment.)

So if you’re looking for a basis of comparison for the Nov. 18 runoff, you’re out of luck. The closest thing we may have is the Oct. 16, 1993, ballot that included six constitutional amendments and a handful of multi-parish races. It produced roughly 408,000 votes statewide. But there was no marquee runoff, such as a contest for treasurer, or high-profile municipal slates, like what we’re seeing in New Orleans.

Election officials are currently expecting turnout in the runoff to match that of the primary, although the odds increase with each passing day that it’ll dip below that threshold. While the primary saw tiny election battles playing out across the state, the race for treasurer will be the only item on the ballot in 56 parishes next month.

Here are the exceptions:

— Oakdale city marshal (Allen Parish)

— Caddo Parish commissioner

— City court judge (East Baton Rouge Parish)

— Denham Springs councilman (Livingston Parish)

— Mayor, civil judge and two council races (Orleans Parish)

— Washington town councilman (St. Landry Parish)

— Franklin city marshal (St. Mary Parish)

— House District 77 runoff (St. Tammany)

The higher-than-average turnouts that will likely come about in Orleans and St. Tammany will benefit attorney Derrick Edwards and former Rep. John Schroder, respectively. Not that there’s much more analysis needed. Most political professionals give the edge to Schroder — and they seriously doubt Edwards is on his way to becoming Louisiana’s second statewide elected Democrat.

If that’s the case — if low turnout doesn’t create any surprise scenarios on the statewide scene — then the real storyline may become Schroder’s fundraising. He already has the Republican infrastructure standing firmly behind him. Will he be able to use that leverage to raise an impressive amount of money against an opponent who’s unlikely to gain traction?

Schroder certainly has to make it through the runoff before he can declare a total victory. But when or if he does, he’ll also find himself two years behind other statewide elected officials in terms of fundraising. After all, once this cycle concludes on Nov. 18, only one date will matter: Oct. 12, 2019.

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