New Polls: Dem Could Win Louisiana Governor

By John Celock

U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s (R) path to the Louisiana governor’s mansion could be in trouble with new polls showing him trailing his Democratic and Republican challengers.

A Public Policy Poll released last week shows Vitter trailing Democratic state House Minority Leader John Bel Edwards in a head-to-head runoff 50 percent to 38 percent. The Advocate reported Sunday night that a new Advocate/WWL-TV poll had Vitter trailing Edwards and the other Republicans in the race, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, in runoffs. Under Louisiana law, the two top finishers in the first round election in November – regardless of party – will advance to a December runoff.

The PPP poll showed Edwards and Vitter leading the four-person field in November with Edwards polling 28 percent and Vitter polling at 27 percent. The poll had Angelle, a former lieutenant governor, at 15 percent and Dardenne, a former secretary of state, at 14 percent. The poll indicated that Angelle and Dardenne would face competitive runoffs with Edwards.

The Advocate/WWL-TV poll showed that Edwards would defeat Vitter 45 percent to 40 percent in a runoff, while Dardenne held an eight point lead over Vitter and Angelle held a five point lead over Vitter. The poll had Vitter and Edwards tied at 24 percent in the first round, trailed by Angelle at 15 percent and Dardenne at 14 percent.

A two-term senator, Vitter had been viewed as the frontrunner when he jumped into the gubernatorial race to succeed term-limited Gov. Bobby Jindal (R). Vitter though has had to contend with fallout from a previous scandal where he admitted to soliciting prostitutes, along with Jindal’s falling approval ratings in Louisiana. If elected, Vitter would become the third former U.S. senator serving in a governor’s mansion, following Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R).

Edwards was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 2008 and became minority leader in 2012. He first jumped into the gubernatorial race in 2013, saying that Louisiana needed a “healthy dose of common sense.”

Dardenne was elected lieutenant governor in a 2010 special election and was reelected in 2011 to the post that involves running the state Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. Prior to becoming lieutenant governor, Dardenne had served four years as secretary of state.

Angelle served as St. Martin’s Parish president before his appointment as state natural resources secretary in 2004 by former Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D), a position he kept under Jindal. In 2010, Angelle left the Department of Natural Resources for six months after Jindal tapped him to serve as lieutenant governor following Mitch Landrieu’s resignation to become New Orleans mayor. Angelle did not seek the remainder of Landrieu’s term in the special election won by Dardenne. Angelle was elected to the state Public Service Commission in 2012.