GOP trying for supermajority in state House

BATON ROUGE — While most of the attention is on the tight governor’s race in Saturday’s runoff election, a battle over whether Republicans will gain a supermajority in the state House of Representatives also seems close.

Republicans reached a supermajority in the Louisiana Senate during the primary last month but need to hold 70 seats to reach a supermajority in the House. The Republicans are seven seats shy of that goal, which would equal two-thirds of the 105 total House seats, and whether they reach it could come down to how they fare Saturday in two or three largely suburban districts.

A supermajority in both chambers of the Legislature would give Republican lawmakers the ability to override vetoes by the governor if they voted together.

“If the Republicans have a supermajority in both houses, that means that, in effect, the Republican Party will be the governor of this state,” said Robert Mann, a political analyst at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication.

Democratic or independent candidates in seven districts that President Donald Trump carried in 2016 are fighting to prevent this. The Republicans need to sweep all seven of these races on Saturday to achieve the supermajority in the House.

House District 70 in Baton Rouge is one of the most crucial districts for the Democrats to flip if they want to prevent the Republican supermajority. The district was Trump’s worst-performing of the districts that he carried in the state.

Michael Henderson, who heads LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab, contends in his blog “Louisiana By The Numbers” that District 70 is the Democrats’ best chance at preventing a supermajority.

Henderson added that non-Republican candidates also have some chance – but not as strong as in District 70 – to win in District 62 in East Baton Rouge Parish and the Felicianas and District 94 in Orleans and Jefferson parishes.