There is a Louisiana Supreme Court robe hanging on the rack, but finding anyone who wants to challenge Caddo District Court Judge Scott Crichton for it is proving to be an elusive proposition.
The latest potential candidate, District Court Judge Stephen Beasley of Sabine Parish tells the Fax-Net that he is not going to run. He challenged then-incumbent Justice Jeff Victory for the seat in 2004 and received 39% of the vote.
Beasley, who is familiar with District 2 of the state’s high court where the race is being held said, “I certainly understand the demographics and know that the majority of the vote is in Caddo and Bossier parishes. It would be hard for someone from a rural parish to be competitive.”
His decision not to run follows in the footsteps of Judge Jay Caraway of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal. The Fax-Net revealed last week that Caraway will not seek the seat.
Beasley, who ran as a Democrat in 2004 against Victory, said that he is now an independent, which, in Louisiana, means he is “No Party.” He said he will run for re-election to his district court seat.
“I am the only district court judge in all of Sabine Parish, and I am happy with being that,” Beasley noted. If he chose to run for the Louisiana Supreme Court, he would have to give up his district court position.
That’s a dilemma for district court judges who might have an interest in the state’s high court because all of them are up for re-election at the same time as the Supreme Court race.
The stars seem to have aligned for Crichton, who has been a district court judge for 23 years. He announced early he would seek the coveted seat and oppose Victory, who is concluding his second 10-year term on the Supreme Court.
That move was cause for pause for most judges who may have been casting an eye at the seat if Victory had announced he would not run for re-election to a third term.
At the time of Crichton’s declaration, Victory said he would seek re-election, but subsequently decided to retire, leaving Crichton with a huge head-start over anyone else who was thinking about running.
Crichton has secured the support of most who are major players in judicial elections, and he has been raising money throughout the district.
One can expect the Crichton bandwagon to get even more crowded now that the two judges most mentioned as possible opponents have both opted out of the race.
Crichton is not taking anything for granted, however. He says he will continue to campaign as if he has an opponent, realizing how uncertain politics can be in Louisiana.
n Crichton Fundraiser
Judge Crichton has a fundraiser scheduled for Monday, August 26 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 2Johns Restaurant, 2151 Airline Drive, Bossier City.
Tickets are $500 per person or per couple. For more information, call Crichton’s campaign headquarters at 318-841-8000.
Only two for district judge
As expected, only two candidates qualified to run for the vacant seat on the Caddo District Court, created when Judge Jeanette Garrett was elected to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal.
Qualifying were Shreveport Attorney Mike Miller and Assistant District Attorney Brady O’Callaghan. Both are Republicans.
The special election is October 19 in Section 2 of the Caddo District Court. The parish is divided into three subsections to elect District Court judges.
That means not everyone in Caddo Parish will vote in this election; only those voters who live in District 2.
There are 54,877 registered voters in this subsection. Of that total, 36,736 or 67% are white, 15,618 or 28% are black, and 2,523 or 5% are other races. By party affiliation, 20,980 or 38% are Democrats, 20,767 or 20% are Republicans, and 13,130 or 24% are Other Parties.
The winner will serve out the remainder of Judge Garrett’s term and will have to run again in 2014 when all District Court judges are up for re-election.
Another vacancy will occur on the District Court because Judge Scott Crichton is running for the Louisiana Supreme Court. His term on the District Court expires December 31, 2014.
War in the Fifth
Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District will provide one of the most interesting and contentious elections scheduled for October 19.
Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander is resigning his U.S. House seat, effective Sept. 26. Gov. Bobby Jindal immediately called for a special election.
And he announced that Alexander will become the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs. And maybe run for governor.
Both Alexander and Jindal endorsed state Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, for the seat.
The series of events created a firestorm among legislators and others who had been casting an eye at the 5th District seat should Alexander have waited until the end of his term in 2014 to retire.
State Rep. Jay Morris, R-Monroe, was furious. He said he believes Alexander, Jindal, and others conspired to give Riser an advantage in the upcoming election. In other words, they rigged the election.
Morris went on to say that he’s heard that Timmy Teepell, former Jindal chief-of-staff and a consultant for Riser, and Alexander’s state director, and possibly others worked out the deal with Riser.
The fallout has created a war between Republicans at the state level and those in the 5th Congressional District. As a result, it will be no walk in the park for Riser to win the right to go to Washington, D.C. Riser could have at least five opponents when qualifying is completed this week. It’s Monday through Wednesday.
It appears there will be three Republicans and three Democrats on the ballot – maybe more.
The Republican candidates are likely Riser and Morris and Monroe attorney Jeff Guerriero.
The Democratic candidates likely are state Rep. Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe; state Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Marksville; and Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo. Hunter and Mayo are African-Americans.
While Republican U.S. Reps. John Fleming of Minden and Charles Boustany of Lafayette have endorsed Riser, Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter said he is staying out of the fray.
In what appeared to be a zinger aimed at Jindal and Alexander, Vitter said, “It’s a very quick election. And it’s obvious that didn’t happen by accident.”
The sprawling 5th District includes 22 parishes in northeast and central Louisiana.
There are 481,109 registered voters in the district. Of that total, 309,422 or 64% are white, 159,143 or 33% are black, and 12,544 or 3% are other races.
By party affiliation, 240,535 or 50% are Democrats, 132,156 or 27% are Republicans, and 108,418 or 23% are Other Parties.
Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.