The votes have been counted, and at long last, election season is over. Well, not quite: There’s still one US Senate seat up for grabs, and one of two Louisiana politicians will secure it after a vote Dec. 10. Now, President Elect Donald J. Trump is stepping into the fray, hoping to cement his hold on Congress with a Republican win. Two anonymous Republican sources say Trump will soon announce an appearance in Baton Rouge this Friday.
The runoff election between Republican John N. Kennedy and Democrat Foster Campbell to replace Senator David Vitter is receiving national attention, with many Democrats pouring their frustration over Trump’s upset victory against Hillary Clinton into a renewed offensive. Although the Republicans will hold at least a 51 seat majority in the Senate regardless of the outcome, Campbell represents the opportunity to gain one more crucial Senate seat, which could be of vast importance in fighting the vast reforms Trump has promised.
Louisiana’s unique free-for-all primary race received attention early on for including former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke among a crowded pack of 24 candidates, but it ended with State Treasurer Kennedy and Public Service Commissioner Campbell as the first and second place finishers. Kennedy led for the entire race, and still holds a lead over Campbell in polls. But Campbell’s campaign, energized by the newfound necessity of winning and buoyed by donations from Democrats nationwide, is not giving up yet. The campaign has received an infusion of new blood as Democrats realize the urgency and importance of this previously overlooked race, with disappointed Clinton supporters from as far away as Oregon manning the phones one last time, in hopes of pulling out a last-minute victory.
Trump’s planned visit indicates that Republicans, too, understand the gravity of the situation, and that they’re not assured of a victory. Kennedy has supported Trump from day one and continued to tie himself to the President Elect, likely a smart move given that Trump carried the state with 58% of the vote (and received a record number of votes). Vice President Elect Mike Pence already visited New Orleans for a Kennedy rally this Saturday. He and Trump also visited Baton Rouge in August to visit local leaders and donate supplies following devastating flooding.
A Campbell win would be a rare bit of good news for Democrats, who are already strategizing ways to prevent Trump’s most controversial proposals, among them repealing Obamacare (which Kennedy has said “sucks”) and building a border wall to stop illegal immigration. Campbell, meanwhile, has attacked Kennedy for his “inconsistency.” Kennedy supported John Kerry in 2004, didn’t become a Republican till 2007, and has reversed his positions on reproductive rights.
Campbell raised $2.5 million to Kennedy’s $1.5 million in the most recent finance reporting period, largely from Democrats nationwide eager for at least one small victory in the wake of the disheartening loss on Nov. 8. For Campbell to win, though, he’ll need to mobilize Democratic voters, especially African-Americans, who did not turn out as expected for the Nov. 8 primary. Trump is expected to officially announce the rally in Baton Rouge, nominally part of his nationwide “thank you” tour, once a venue has been selected.