New legislature poses new challenges for Gov. Edwards

Makeup of La. legislature is now mostly conservative despite Gov. Edwards' reelection

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Though Republicans were not able to secure a veto-proof super-majority in the House of Representatives, the legislature became more conservative than ever after Saturday’s election.

The 105-member house now includes 68 republicans. Of the Senate’s 39 seats, 26 belong to republicans.

“Republicans had a plan and they continue to execute that plan,” Southern University political scientist Albert Samuels said. “Democrats are not just losing seats. In some cases, there’s not even a candidate.”

Samuels said republicans have simply done a better job planning to overtake vacant seats. The national republican party turned significant attention to state legislatures during the mid-2000′s.

“Democrats have depended on the governor having all the power,” Samuels said, making reference to former leaders like Huey Long and Edwin Edwards. “That is not the political landscape of today and democrats have yet to adjust to that change.”

Edwards spent his first term in frequent fights with the republican leadership in the house, often depending on senate allies to win political battles. Most of those allies were term-limited, and voters replaced them with republicans on election night.

Gov. John Bel Edwards preached bipartisanship during his victory speech, though the legislature’s appetite for bipartisanship will likely depend on the new speaker of the house and president of the senate. Lawmakers will elect their leaders during an organizational session in January.

“Even if John Bel wanted to do good, he can’t,” President Donald Trump said during a rally in Bossier City last week. “He’s got to go through all the republicans. They can’t stand this guy.”

Trump’s observation may explain the fate of a number of Edwards-backed bills during his first term, including tax reforms. But since he’s been re-elected, and there is no clear democratic heir to the governorship in four years, political watchdog’s like Barry Erwin say there may be fewer political games to play.

“When the governor was elected, they were really looking at denying him a second term - trying to make sure that his first term was unsuccessful,” he said. “He did have some successes, but that’s over now.”

You can view the election results here.

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