Friday, 22 February 2019 15:26

The importance of a Louisiana presidential primary election

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Presidential election season has kicked off earlier than usual with new democrat candidates appearing almost daily.  Fourteen announced candidates so far with others like former Vice President Joe Biden waiting in the wings.  The President is unopposed for now, but anti-Trump forces are searching for several good candidates.  So how relevant is Louisiana to the presidential primary process? Not much. But that could change.


Right now, Louisiana is scheduled to hold its presidential primary on March 7th of 2020, a month after the Iowa Caucus and a week after Super Tuesday.  Fourteen states hold elections before Louisiana, and the Bayou State often becomes an afterthought.

So, is there anything Louisiana can do to have a significant impact on who will be the next president? Yes!  And at no cost!  Louisiana is the only state in the country that has a late 2019 election already scheduled.  It’s the regular gubernatorial election where many races will be on the ballot with a significant statewide turnout.  Therefore, the Bayou State could be the first in the nation to have a vote on who will be the respective party nominees.

It need be only a non-binding beauty contest. Both Republicans and Democrats could hold caucuses and primaries in the spring of next year to pick their respective delegates. But as far as giving the nation an indication of how voters are thinking nationally, Louisiana could, at no cost, be the first state to hold a presidential primary.

It would be an understatement to say that the candidates from both parties would flock to the deepest of the deep southern states. It would be the first chance, particularly for the current long list of democrat presidential wannabes, to build momentum and show strength.  It would be unwise for any candidate, to pass up making a significant campaign effort in Louisiana.

A Louisiana presidential election tied to the gubernatorial election this fall would also put some additional heat on the candidates to focus on Louisiana issues.  Put them on the spot when it comes to drilling in the Gulf, revenue sharing, and coastal erosion.  Here’s what the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives had to say in commenting on Florida moving its primary up to next January: “Moving up the primary would force presidential candidates to pay more attention to issues that are important locally, like soaring property insurance rates.” Hello! Sounds like what Louisiana officials should be saying.

Iowa has the process of sucking in presidential candidates down to a science. But they go one step further by having a second “mini-caucus” in August.  As Mike Murphy in Time magazine wrote this week: “It’s an essentially phony contest that forces the candidates to start earlier, visit more often, book more hotel rooms and put more friendly Iowans on the payroll to organize the vast logistics of getting all those would-be voters…” out to vote. 

If Iowa can get the various candidates to genuflect all over the Hawkeye state and garner huge media attention over 10,000 voters at a caucus, it would seem for Louisiana to be a no brainer to tie in a straw vote for president at the same time as this fall’s gubernatorial election.   The Louisiana legislature will soon be in session. A simple minor change in the election law will allow the presidential straw poll in November, pull millions of dollars into the state, and cost the taxpayers nothing. No other state has such an opportunity.

Just how much could Louisiana gain by holding the first in the nation presidential primary? The candidates campaigning in the state of Iowa spend over $ 200 million. Media outlets, consultants and campaign volunteers run up a similar amounts. Economists often quote the “economic turnover effect” of dollars spent in a local or state economy as anywhere from six to seven times. So, $200 million dropped into the Louisiana economy that turns over 5 times!! That’s ONE BILLION DOLLARS!!

Under the current system, Louisiana will be merely a footnote when the campaign comes to an end. Once again, a lack of will could cause the Bayou State to be irrelevant in deciding who will lead the country. But, at least, you can go to Iowa. That is, Iowa, Louisiana. It’s one of the last stops traveling I-10 on your way to Texas. But don’t expect to see anyone there campaigning for president.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at


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Jim Brown

Jim Brown is a Louisiana legislator, Secretary of State and Insurance Commissioner.

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