Louisiana Sends Republican John Kennedy to U.S. Senate in Runoff Election

Trump and John Kennedy AP
Baton Rouge, LA

Republican John Kennedy has been declared the winner of Louisiana’s runoff election for the U.S. Senate, defeating Democrat Foster Campbell and thwarting one of the last opportunities in 2016 for Democrats to gain a seat in the upper chamber.

Kennedy’s win on Saturday night, the first GOP win since Trump’s election, gives Republicans a 52 seat majority in the U.S. Senate, making it that much harder for Democrats to make any headway in Washington.

The stakes were high enough for President-elect Donald Trump to campaign arm-in-arm with Kennedy at a rally last week in Baton Rouge.

Trump told voters how important it was to get Kennedy to Washington, noting that it is “really close” in the Senate. “We need John in Washington, not only for the vote, but for leadership and everything,” Trump said.

Days before Trump’s stop in Baton Rouge, Vice President-elect Mike Pence also hit the campaign trail for Kennedy.

Kennedy’s Democrat opponent, Foster Campbell, clearly felt Trump’s popularity in the Pelican State as he generally refrained from too many direct attacks on Trump during his campaign. Campbell even ran campaign ads promising he would work with Trump while also insisting he would have the “courage” to oppose him when necessary. But it wasn’t enough to stave off yet another GOP win for 2016.

Seeing Campbell’s campaign as a last ditch effort, Democrats and liberal advocacy groups poured money into the campaign, giving Campbell a one million-dollar campaign fund advantage over Kennedy. Liberals were so hopeful for a Democrat win that a number of Hollywood types even came to Campbell’s side, using their fame to push for his victory. Such liberal entertainers as Rosie O’Donnell, John Leguizamo, and Patton Oswalt all stumped for Campbell, according to The New York Times.

But ultimately, the loss is another bitter pill for Democrats to swallow in an election cycle that sent so many Democrats packing across the nation.

The hunt for the U.S. Senate has been a long time coming for Kennedy. The five-time State Treasurer has run three unsuccessful past campaigns for a spot in Washington, first as a Democrat in 2004 and the next two times as a Republican.

This win, however, does not change a seat from blue to red, as Kennedy won the seat being vacated by Republican David Vitter, who declined to run for re-election.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.