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Acrimony and Humanity: 2016 Elections Wrap Up

Rick Portier

The 2016 election season finally came to a close – here in Louisiana --Saturday night.

Five-time State Treasurer John Kennedy won the job he’d unsuccessfully sought twice before –U.S. senator.

“I’d rather drink weed-killer than be anywhere than right here tonight,” he said, alluding to one of his folksy campaign lines during his victory speech.

Yet there was an edge to some of his subsequent comments.

“I want to congratulate Commissioner Foster Campbell and Governor John Bel Edwards on the campaign they ran,” Kennedy said, keeping the partisan battlelines in place.

Over in the 3rd congressional district, the winner -- Clay Higgins -- was in full gloat.

“Tonight was the proof, when we can look across our land, and see the end of the wealthy millionaire career politicians!” he shouted, to cheers from the rowdy crowd at his campaign party.

In contrast, the so-called “career politician” Higgins defeated -- Scott Angelle -- was entirely gracious.

“We are obviously discouraged by the results, but our hearts are not broken. I want everyone to know I have called the Congressman-elect, Mr. Higgins, and congratulated him on a good race, and offered to help do the things we need to do to move Louisiana forward.”

With the 2016 campaigns, both national and local, likely to be remembered as some of the most vitriolic ever, the 4th district race ended with both candidates acknowledging their common humanity.

“As many of you know, my father passed away on Wednesday evening, after a long bout with cancer,” the winner, Mike Johnson, said through tears. “He was hanging on because he wanted to be here tonight so badly. He said, ‘I am going to be there to see you elected to Congress’ and he is.”

And from the loser – Marshall Jones – compassion and respect.

“I called Mike Johnson and first expressed my condolences to him. This has been a really tough week for him. I’m sure winning the congressional race tonight is bittersweet,” Jones said gently, adding, “He is a good man.”