Congressional plums – Election year 2016 will have two Congressional plums for the picking. The high-profile race will be for the U.S. Senate since incumbent Republican Sen. David Vitter has announced he will not seek re-election to a third six-year term.

Additionally, all U.S. House seats are up for re-election. And for northwest Louisiana, that means an open seat in the 4th District since incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. John Fleming has announced he will run for the Senate seat. The 4th District U.S. House seat encompasses all or part of 15 parishes. They are: Allen, Beauregard, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, DeSoto, Evangeline, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine, St. Landry, Union, Vernon, and Webster. There are 465,051 registered voters in the 4th District. Of that total, 290,395 (62%) are white, 156,763 (34%) are black, and 17,893 (4%) are other races. lou Burnett

By party affiliation, 214,911 (46%) are Democrats, 135,703 (29%) are Republicans, and 114,437 (25%) are Other Party/No Party. About 50% of the voters reside in Bossier and Caddo parishes, so it is likely candidates from those two parishes will emerge. Being from one of those two parishes does not necessarily guarantee a victory, however. Fleming, who is from Webster Parish, defeated Jeff Thompson, who is from Bossier, and Chris Gorman, who is from Caddo when there was an open seat in 2008. No one has officially declared for the seat, but one can expect candidates will step forward after the first of the year.

As for the U.S. Senate race, the list will likely be a long one on the Republican side. U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany and John Fleming have already announced. Also being mentioned as possible GOP candidates are retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness, state Treasurer John Kennedy, and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, who was unsuccessful in his bid for governor. Two names of Democrats have popped up – New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell. Neither has committed to the race at this time.

Potential Republican candidates early-on assumed Vitter would win the governor’s race and were jockeying to be appointed interim senator by him. Those plans, of course, fell through when Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards won the governor’s race, 56-44%. Vitter will continue to serve in the Senate until his term expires in January 2017. An Aside: Boustany’s seat in the 3rd U.S. House District will also be open if he runs for the Senate, which he has said he will do.

Presidential Primary is March 5 – Louisiana’s 2016 Presidential Preference Primary will take place on Saturday, March 5 within the Democratic and Republican parties. Qualifying will be on December 2-4. The election is a closed party election. That means only Democrats will be able to vote for that party’s nominees and the same holds true for Republicans. No Party/Other Party registrants will not be allowed to vote in the presidential primary. Democrats will also vote for any contested races for the Democratic State Central Committee, and Republicans will vote in races for the Republican State Central Committee. However, all voters will be able to vote for any local offices and/or propositions on the ballot, such as in the special election in the subdistrict to fill the vacancy on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal.

There are no runoff elections among the presidential primary candidates. A general election will be held on April 9 only if local elections are on the ballot and no one received a majority vote in the primary election. The last day to register to vote in the presidential primary is February 3, 2016. Early voting will be held February 20-27.

Update on Senate District 36 Race – The final campaign finance reports for the 2015 elections are not due at the Louisiana Ethics Board until January 4, 2016. At that time, we will have the total amount contributed to and spent by candidates. We have already reported on campaign finances of several candidates in past issues, but when we last reported on the Senate District 36 race, the campaign report for Henry Burns was not available. This report contains receipts and expenditures from January 1 though November 1, 2015, the last report available. The runoff election was on November 21. Remember that the figures don’t always compute because in-kind contributions are subtracted from cash on hand: Henry Burns (R) Cash on Hand as of 1/1/15 – $0. Total Receipts Through 11/1 – $227,182. Total Expenditures – $224,339. Cash on Hand as of 11/1 – $2,536.

Ryan Gatti (R) Cash on Hand as of 1/1/15 – $0. Total Receipts Through 11/1 – $332,018 of which $227,395 was a loan to his committee. Total Expenditures – $297,720. Cash on Hand as of 11/1 – $34,298. Gatti won the election by a 51-49% margin.

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