Louisiana voters Saturday chose to send Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy to the U.S. Senate, filling the chamber’s last seat and giving the GOP a 52-48 edge when the new term begins in January.
Kennedy had always been the runoff election’s front-runner in a state that overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump. He defeated Democrat Foster Campbell, a state utility regulator whose chances were seen as such a long shot that national Democratic organizations offered little assistance to Campbell’s campaign.
Voters also filled two open U.S. House seats Saturday, for the 3rd District representing southwest and south central Louisiana and the 4th District covering northwest Louisiana.
Louisiana has an open primary system in which all candidates run against each other. In the contests for the open congressional seats, the November primary ballots were packed with contenders, so the top two vote-getters advanced to Saturday’s runoff.
The Senate runoff drew national attention, with Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence each traveling to Louisiana to rally for Kennedy. The national GOP provided resources and staff assisting Kennedy’s campaign, while national Democratic organizations largely abandoned Campbell, assuming an easy win for Republicans.
Though Campbell’s chance appeared slim, donations for his campaign had poured in from around the country, and several Hollywood celebrities championed his candidacy as a way to bolster resistance to the Trump presidency.
Political upstart Clay Higgins won the race for the 3rd District seat, defeating a fellow Republican once considered a lock on the job.
Higgins, a former sheriff’s captain dubbed the “Cajun John Wayne” for his attention-grabbing Crime Stoppers segments, trounced Scott Angelle, a state utility regulator.
Republican state lawmaker Mike Johnson won in the 4th District, defeating Democrat Marshall Jones.
7:25 p.m.: This article was updated to report the results of Saturday’s election in Louisiana.
This article was originally published at 3:10 p.m.