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Louisiana Special Election Primaries Head To Runoffs

Republican newspaper publisher Woody Jenkins, who narrowly lost to Mary Landrieu (D) in a 1996 Senate race, will have a second chance to head to Congress after finishing first in the party’s special election primary to succeed Rep. Richard Baker (R-La.).

With all 512 precincts reporting, Jenkins was just shy of securing the 50 percent necessary to avoid a runoff, and will face business consultant Laurinda Cologne on April 5 to determine the party’s nominee. Cologne came in second with 25 percent of the vote.

Paul Sawyer, the former chief of staff to Rep. Richard Baker (R-La.), finished in third place with 23 percent. His campaign took a hit after Baker stayed out of the primary, declining to endorse his former aide.

The Republican nominee will face either state Rep. Don Cazayoux or state Rep. Michael Jackson, who will face off in a Democratic runoff that appears likely to split along racial lines. Jackson, who is African-American, dominated in the heavily black precincts around East Baton Rouge Parish, finishing in second place with 27 percent of the vote overall.

But Cazayoux, the favorite among national Democrats, finished first with 35 percent of the vote and performed well throughout the Baton Rouge-based district.

Democrats view Baker’s seat, while leaning Republican, as another potential pickup opportunity – and may be emboldened given their upset in former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s seat Saturday night.
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