St. Tammany, Orleans, Plaquemines
Ray Garofalo (R) is the outgoing representative for State House District 103, running to replace gubernatorial candidate Sharon Hewitt. Garofalo most recently took the media spotlight by introducing Louisiana's version of the "Don't Say Gay" bill, and successfully passing it through the legislature before it was eventually vetoed by Governor Edwards. In the 2022 state legislative session, Garofalo lost his chairmanship of the House Education Committee for expressing his belief that schools should teach “the good, the bad, the ugly” of slavery. Obviously, there was no good and plenty of bad and ugly in the racially-determined private ownership of human beings for forced labor. In 2023, it seems like that controversy was water under the bridge among many of his fellow Republicans as Garofalo uses the incident to prove his conservative culture war bona fides on the campaign trail.
Bob Owen (R) is also a member of the House seeking a promotion to the State Senate. His preferred front of the culture war is against abortion and trans rights. While he hasn't courted as much public controversy as Garofalo, there is not much daylight between these two candidates' political platforms.
Patrick Connick (R) is an unusual candidate in that he has been in office continuously since 2007, but is running his first ever campaign in 2023. He won his first elected office for State House District 84 unopposed, then was re-elected unopposed in 2011 and again in 2015. Connick promoted himself to the Senate without a fight in another yet another uncontested election, winning Senate District 8 in 2019. This will be the first time in Connick's sixteen-year political career where he will appear on a ballot.
Connick is one of only a few reliable pro-environmental votes on the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, along with freshman Senator Royce Duplessis and his direct predecessor Karen Carter Peterson. He even introduced a bill to ban plastic bags in 2022, but it died in his own committee. He is probably the only Republican incumbent that happily brags about how he has "fought chemical companies who pollute our air and water" on his campaign website.
In general, Connick avoids direct involvement in culture war issues, but voted against LGBTQ rights at every opportunity in the 2023 legislative session. Perhaps he feels he had to take a stand on the conservative hysteria-du-jour going into his first ever competitive race, but it's nonetheless disappointing.
Timothy Kerner Jr (R) is the current mayor of Jean Laffitte, a small town "down the bayou" in west Jefferson Parish. His father is a current state representative, and both have a contentious relationship with Connick. The two parties accuse the other of heading malignant political machines that enrich their own constituents at the expense of other west Jefferson Parish residents. While the existence of a Connick political machine seems dubious given his lack of an electoral history, the Kerners cannot claim the same of their own alleged machine, given their family's total dominance of Jean Lafitte politics since his grandfather's days.
Kerner and his father recently found themselves in hot water thanks to Fox 8 muckraker Lee Zurich's investigation of the father-son political duo's role as silent partners in a property deal for a building directly across from Jean Lafitte town hall. Zurich also found that Mayor Kerner may have tried to use a building he owned as a temporary town hall after Hurricane Ida, and awarded contracts to a business in which he was a silent partner. Kerner has adopted Trump's hokey "drain the swamp" tagline, and adapted it frequently to the specific conditions of governing a town situated squarely within swamps, but Kerner seems thoroughly mired in the swamp himself.
J. Cameron Henry Jr. (R) is the incumbent, having been elected to his first term in 2019. Henry’s political career began as an aide to sitting US Representative and “David Duke without the baggage” Steve Scalise. He is a former member of the Louisiana House, representing District 82 since 2008 and running unopposed each time. Having termed out of the House, Henry has moved on to the Senate, where he easily defeated fellow Republican Jon Hyers in 2019 with over 78% of the vote.
Henry’s legislative record includes sponsoring a bill that created a “police week” to commend and celebrate the police force, because apparently we do not already worship them enough in this country. He also sponsored bills that would make it harder to prevent large in-person gatherings at churches and visitation at hospitals, and voted to bar “discrimination based on vaccination status” in response to the measures put in place during the earlier days of the COVIDpandemic.
Other terrible things Henry has done in office include voting to override the Governor’s veto of a law that bans gender affirming care for minors, voting to prohibit discussion of gender and sexual identity in K-12 schools, and voting in support of every abortion restriction imaginable in the lead up to and aftermath of the Dobbs decision. Henry has supported all bills that make it harder to stay on nutrition assistance and Medicaid, and all bills that make it easier to take your gun wherever, whenever. Unsurprisingly, he has opposed lowering penalties for marijuana possession, and generally opposed any type of criminal justice reform.
Mary Anne Mushatt (D) is running for office for the first time. She has no political experience, and sees that as a good thing. Mushatt wants to shift our response to crime to more preventative measures such as “Violence Interrupters, dispatching mental health professionals with police, and even midnight basketball courts and after school programs, and apprenticeships…not to mention raising the (sic) minimal wage to a living wage would continue and consistently reduce crime while building community.” She supports the renewal of the Earned Income Tax Credit to help families feed and care for their children. Mushatt speaks of a desire to create an exception to the abortion ban for cases of rape,incest or if the preganancy is life-threatening, but is unfortunately silent on the right to choose abortion in any given case. She references investing in education by increasing teacher pay and funding mental health professionals in schools, but unfortunately does not address the need to dismantle the charter school system and replace it with actual public schools. Mushatt supports “making equal pay for equal work and making our (sic) minimal wage a living wage the law of our state will help lift the almost 50% of Louisiana families out of poverty.” She also wants to “study and implement best practices on increasing resiliency of electric grid, including solar and wind and 'Project Lighthouses' which provide power to community centers when the grid fails.”