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Burnett: A judicial battle on tap…and snow in DC

In what many politicos consider a rare political occurrence, a sitting judge on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal will be challenged in this fall’s election.

Bossier-Webster District Judge Jeff Cox is made it official with an announcement at the Chandler’s Event Center, 1656 Swan Lake Road, Bossier City,

Cox is challenging Appellate Judge Jay Caraway, whose 10-year term on the 2nd Circuit bench expires on December 31of this year.

Caraway was first elected to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal in 1996, which means he has served on the court for 20 years.lou Burnett

Caraway told the Fax-Net that he will seek a third term on the court.  He had been mentioned as a potential candidate for the Louisiana Supreme Court back in 2014, but opted out saying that the seat on the 2nd Circuit of Appeal was where he wanted to be.

Cox is serving his second full six-year term on the Bossier-Webster District Court.  He has never faced opposition   He was unopposed when he first ran in 2004 to fill out the unexpired term of Judge Cecil Campbell.

He was re-elected in 2008 and 2014 without opposition.  He will not have to give up his District Court seat to seek the 2nd Circuit position since his current term expires in 2020.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal, headquartered in Shreveport, consists of nine judges who are elected  from three election districts in the 20 northernmost parishes of Louisiana.

This election will be in District 2, which is comprised of nine parishes.  They are Bienville, Bossier, Caldwell, Claiborne, Jackson, Lincoln, Union, Webster and Winn parishes.

There are 181,375 registered voters currently in this judicial district. Of that total, 69% are white, 28% are black, and 3% are other races.  By party affiliation, 40% are Democrats, 35% are Republicans, and 25% are Other Party/No Party.

Three of the nine parishes have 67% of the registered voters.  Bossier is the heavy hitter with 38%, followed by Lincoln with 15% and Webster with 14%  of the vote.

Both Cox and Caraway are Republicans.

Current members of the court are Chief Judge Henry Brown Jr., and Judges Felicia Toney Williams, Harmon Drew Jr., D. Milton Moore III, John Larry Lolley, Frances Jones Pitman, and Jeanette Garrett.

There is one vacancy.  Judge James Stewart  stepped down to run for Caddo DA.  That seat will be filled by a special election on March 5.

It is in a majority-black judicial subdistrict.  Three candidates have qualified – attorney Trina Chu, Shreveport City Court Judge Sheva Sims, and Caddo Juvenile Court Judge Shonda Stone.  All three are Democrats.


Eyeing the 4th District seat

The list of potential candidates continues to grow for the 4th District Congressional seat being vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. John Fleming of Minden, who is running for the U.S. Senate.

The number has reached seven, and three of those expressing an interest in running have never held an elected office, which is sort of mirroring the national political scene.

Here they are in alphabetical order:

*Dr. Trey Baucum (R), a Shreveport cardiologist.

*State Rep. Patrick Jefferson (D) of Arcadia.

*Shreveport City Councilman Oliver Jenkins (R).

*State Rep. Mike Johnson (R) of Bossier.

*Shreveport Attorney Richard “Ricky” John (R).

*State Rep. Jim Morris (R) of Oil City.

*Businessman Michael Reese (R) of Leesville.

If you are thinking about running, here is some important information about the district.

The 4th District meanders down the western side of Louisiana and is comprised of all or part of 15 parishes.  There is a total of 466,242 registered voters currently. Of that total, 62% are white, 34% are black, and 4% are other races.  By party affiliation, 45% are Democrats, 29% are Republicans, and 25% are Other Party/No Party.

Here is the list of parishes arranged by the number of registered voters in each:

Caddo Parish – 163,663 registered voters.

Bossier Parish – 69,242.

St. Landry Parish – 29,241.

Webster Parish – 25,283.

Natchitoches Parish – 24,694.

Vernon Parish – 23,874.

Evangeline Parish – 21,859.

Beauregard Parish – 21,702.

DeSoto Parish – 18,302.

Union Parish – 15,655.

Sabine Parish – 14,563.

Allen Parish – 13,595.

Bienville Parish – 9,455.

Claiborne Parish – 8,931.

Red River Parish – 6,183.

Interestingly, 50% of the registered voters in the district reside in Caddo and Bossier parishes.  That doesn’t mean if a candidate is from one of those two parishes that he or she is guaranteed a win.

In 2008, when the 4th District was an open seat, there were three Republican candidates – Fleming from Webster, Jeff Thompson from Bossier, and Chris Gorman from Caddo.  Fleming won the GOP primary and defeated Democrat Paul Carmouche of Caddo in the runoff.


Getting snowed in DC

This is a personal story.  With a monster snow storm hitting Washington, D.C. this past week, just at the time many Louisianians are there for the annual Mardi Gras festivities, I recall a similar situation when I worked on Capitol Hill.

During my time there, I participated in 26 of the annual Mardi Gras celebrations sponsored by the Krewe of Louisianians.  I was a lieutenant in the krewe.

There was a similar event to what happened this year back in the 1980s.  I don’t remember the exact year, but a major snow storm hit the Nation’s Capital as Louisianians arrived.

While they marveled at the snow, what they didn’t realize until their planned departure on Sunday was that they were not going anywhere.  The airports were shut down and all flights canceled.

A few of our guests stayed at my house until they were able to get a flight back to Louisiana. Others got hotel rooms where they could.

While those who came to the Washington Mardi Gras always had a good time, it was a lot of work for staffers of the members of the Louisiana Congressional delegation.

Invitations had to be sent to the congressman’s key people, hoping that we would have enough tickets for those who wanted to come to Washington.  And there was a hospitality suite that had to be staffed and food and beverages provided.

But we also managed to find the time to party a little.  And while the event is often criticized by some, it is an excellent opportunity to mingle with the Who’s Who of Louisiana and Washington.


Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political.


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