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Louisiana voters undecided on Democrat utility regulator, sending race to runoff

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Election Day campaign volunteers greet motorists at an Uptown New Orleans intersection Nov. 8, 2022. (Greg LaRose/Louisiana Illuminator)

Louisiana had a few surprises on Election Day but none related to the races on the ballot. More than 1.3 million residents voted Tuesday, reelecting the state’s Republican-heavy congressional delegation and sending a key Public Service Commission race to a December runoff.

The day began with technical difficulties at the Secretary of State’s Office as the online voter portal and the GeauxVote mobile app experienced a surge in online traffic that the state’s servers had trouble handling, according to state election officials.

Secretary of State spokesman John Tobler said the website never crashed but started displaying an error message to some users. The problem lasted about three hours before it was resolved.

Then Jefferson Parish authorities responded to a bomb threat at a polling location in Kenner. Authorities said a juvenile in Michigan allegedly called in a bomb threat to the Kenner Discovery Health Sciences Academy, a K-12 charter school. Tobler said the threat was not related to the election. Police said the boy allegedly made a similar previous threat.

A search determined the school was safe, and Ardoin’s staff moved voting machines to a nearby elementary school. Kenner police have issued an arrest warrant for the juvenile.

This would be the only drama during the day as most races unfolded without any surprises or irregularities.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy kept his seat with 62% of the vote, fending off a long list of challengers led by Democrats Gary Chambers and Luke Mixon, who received 18% and 13%, respectively.

All of Louisiana’s incumbent House delegates sailed easily to victory as polls predicted. Rep. Steve Scalise received 73% in District 1; Rep. Troy Carter collected nearly 77% in District 2; Rep. Clay Higgins took 64% in District 3; Rep. Julia Letlow captured 67% in District 5; and Rep. Garret Graves got 80% of the vote in District 6. District 4 Rep. Mike Johnson was unopposed.

The two state legislative races were also decided Tuesday.

In Senate District 17, Republican Caleb Kleinpeter, a West Baton Rouge Parish Council member, inched out a victory with 51% over Democratic State Rep. Jeremy LaCombe’s 41%. Republican candidate Kirk Rousset, a physician, collected 7.6%.

For state Senate District 5, Rep. Royce Duplessis topped Rep. Mandie Landry, 53% to 47%. Both are New Orleans Democrats.

The District 3 Public Service Commissioner seat, a Democrat stronghold, will be decided in a December runoff as incumbent Lambert Boissiere collected 44% of the vote. Challenger Davante Lewis finished second, with 18% support.

Louisiana voters rejected most of the proposed amendments to the state constitution, including an attempt to prohibit slavery. The author of the amendment opposed the final version because the watered-down wording would allow for involuntary servitude as part of a criminal sentence.

This story was originally published by the Louisiana Illuminator.