Political newcomer Clay Higgins continued to build on an early, substantial lead over Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle in Saturday’s runoff voting for Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District. The winner will replace incumbent U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, who held the seat for 12 years but gave it up for an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate in this election cycle.
With 507 of 567 precincts reporting by 9:10 p.m., unofficial voting results show:
- Angelle: 54,579 or 43.21 percent
- Higgins: 71,744 votes or 56.79 percent.
Higgins led among early voters in Acadia, Iberia, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary and Vermilion parishes. Angelle led among early voters only in Calcasieu and Cameron parishes.
“It’s important that we won St. Martin early voting,” said Chris Comeaux, Higgins’ campaign adviser. St. Martin is Angelle’s home parish.
“Winning Iberia Parish big was also an important bellwether.”
As the evening wore on, Higgins continued to push leads on those early favorable totals, winning by commanding margins in Acadia, Vermilion, Iberia and St. Mary parishes. With most of the votes counted in Lafayette Parish, Higgins had taken a lead of 23,285 to 18,207 over Angelle, a result not likely expected. Comeaux said he expected a dead heat in Lafayette.
Although polls ran smoothly in Lafayette Parish on Saturday, voting was slow on Saturday.
Clerk of Courts Louis J. Perret said he surveyed polling places around 2 p.m. and said turnout was around 15 percent. He said with early voting added, voting may not reach 30 percent in Lafayette; at 7 p.m., he suggested it may hover closer to 25 percent.
“We’re hoping and praying it will pick up,” he said.
Perret said the turnout was disappointing, with a U.S. Senate seat and the 3rd Congressional District seat both open for the first time in 12 years.
He suggested Lafayette voters may have focused on Christmas shopping and may have been disappointed in negative political campaigning.
Weather was clear and cool all day. Shoppers packed the Acadiana Mall, but stayed away from the polling sites.
More than 68 percent of voters turned out Nov. 8 for the presidential race.
Angelle spokesman Ryan Cross said he thought turnout looked “excellent” for his candidate.
“We’re excited to see the results as they come in,” he said. “Do they want to send Washington a message?”
University of Louisiana at Lafayette political scientist Ryan Teten said the candidates’ core supporters would determine the winner: Which candidate base turned out at the polls?
“When turnout is that low, it is going to be decided by their base. If they shook a hand at Albertson’s they might have won the election,” he said.
In the Lafayette Parish city of Carencro, a vote for a 1-cent sales tax to support a $25 million sewer won overwhelming support. With nine of 10 precincts reporting, the sales tax was winning by 1,045 to 364.