Friday, July 25, 2008

No Statewide Primaries Yet

Jacques Boudreaux's withdrawal from the U.S. Senate race's Republican primary earlier this week means that Louisianans will have to wait at least two more years (barring some unforeseen vacancy) before we hold a statewide primary under the "new" closed primary electoral system.

While the November 4 ballot for the Senate race is now set, there will still be Democratic primaries in the First, Second, and Fourth U.S. House Districts and Republican primaries in the Fourth and Fifth Districts. None of the state's other three recognized parties will be holding primaries, though there is one Green and one Libertarian in the Second District race and one Libertarian in the Senate race. The Reform Party (whose state organization seems to be dormant) didn't take advantage of their ballot line in any of Louisiana's Congressional races this year.

Those three parties are really missing an opportunity.

For example, if the Louisiana Libertarians had fielded two Senatorial candidates instead of one, then there would be a Libertarian primary for that race scheduled for September 6. Since that would now be the only statewide primary being held on that date, it would have brought a lot of attention to the party. The media would have certainly reported on that race, if for no other reasons than its novelty and the lack of other electoral news.

More importantly, since that primary would have been open to both registered Libertarians and voters who aren't affiliated with a recognized party and since it would have been the only option Louisiana voters had to cast ballots in the Senate race prior to the November general election, the Libertarians could have gotten lots of people used to voting for Libertarian candidates.

Even if that primary race had just been a friendly public discussion between the candidates about Libertarian ideals, it would have had PR value worth much more than the second candidate's $600 qualifying fee.

Instead, Richard Fontanesi will likely stay in the background with the "other" and "no party" candidates on the general election ballot.

Oh, well. There's still two years to recruit candidates for the 2010 Senate race.

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