2017 GOP Special Election Update: Weekend Seat Flip in Louisiana


For months, Democrats have bragged about state-level, special election strength and victories, while conveniently glossing over one very important detail: they weren’t actually winning any new seats. But on Saturday, the seat count finally changed… and not in their direction.

Republican John Stefanski this weekend flipped Louisiana House District 42 – a seat held by Democrats since at least 1972 – after Democrats failed to even file a candidate in the race. Additionally, Republicans retained House District 92 on Saturday with a win by Joe Stagni. So for those of you keeping score, Democrats in state legislatures – despite massive interest and spending – have still flipped zero seats and hold even less than they did at the beginning of 2017. So much for refocused and rebuilding.

ICYMI earlier this month, RSLC Political Director Justin Richards released a 2017 special elections update memo noting that despite major investments and major party surrogates’ engagement, Democrats hadn’t actually netted any new seats in state legislative chambers. To recap:

  • Republicans in January retained a seat in the Virginia House and Virginia Senate by very comfortable margins, despite big investments by Democrats led by Governor Terry McAuliffe.
  • Republicans in February retained a Minnesota House seat which gave them their largest House majority ever post-presidential election, despite major Democrat Party surrogates campaigning for their candidate.
  • And also in February, Republicans by 12 points retained a critical Senate seat in Connecticut to maintain a chamber tie first secured on Election Day 2016, despite Democrats investing heavily to flip the seat and win back an outright majority.

Seeing their strength drained at every level of government following last November’s elections, Democrats are quickly turning their attention to the states. Just ask Barack Obama and Eric Holder, as well as the liberal billionaires who met behind closed doors in DC last week. But until they focus on running the right candidates who will prioritize the issues that matter most to voters – economic growth, tax reform, school choice, and safer roads and bridges, for example – Republicans will continue to win and gain ground in the states.