If you don’t follow Louisiana politics, then you might be missing out on their exciting and unique electoral politics. Louisiana elects its governor, other statewide officers, and state legislature in off-off-year elections. The candidates for governor all participate in what’s called a jungle primary. Every candidate, regardless of party, is on one ballot. If any candidate gets 50%+1, then that candidate is the winner. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters face off in a runoff election about a month later.
This year, Louisiana held its jungle primary on Saturday, October 24. The top two vote-getters were Democratic state representative John Bel Edwards and Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter. The runoff election is this Saturday, November 21. Now, you may be thinking, this is interesting, but what does it have to do with pensions? Well, it has a lot to do with pensions because departing Governor Bobby Jindal has been no friend to Louisiana’s teachers, firefighters, and nurses and their retirement security during his administration. He has tried repeatedly to privatize or dismantle Louisiana’s public pension system, but his efforts were struck down by the Louisiana Supreme Court.
It’s unclear who will win the runoff on Saturday. Edwards leads in polls right now, but Louisiana is a heavily Republican state, which may favor Vitter. Edwards has said he wants to maintain Louisiana’s pensions as they are. Vitter has been notably vague about what he would do as governor and refused to meet with an association of Louisiana retirees to discuss issues such as pensions. Pensions are especially important to Louisiana’s public employees since they do not participate in Social Security. And research has shown that pensions generate increased economic activity in Louisiana’s parishes. Regardless of who wins the election, let’s hope that the next governor of Louisiana recognizes the value of a pension in providing a safe and secure retirement to working families there.
UPDATE: John Bel Edwards won the election and will be the next governor of Louisiana.