Today is the final day of qualifying for the upcoming November elections. So far, no surprises have popped up during the qualifying period.
UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says if someone is thinking of jumping in a race at the last minute, they won't do very well.
"To run for office today you have to lay the groundwork early."
Cross says these days you have to raise money and build your campaign organization well before qualifying begins. He says once qualifying is over, campaigns will really start to kick into gear. Cross says candidates will start putting that campaign money to use in TV and radio ads, yard signs, and any other way they can get their message out.
"Between now and the election on November 4th, it's going to be a sprint."
He says some of these races could definitely get wild and woolly. Qualifying ends at 4:30 today.
A Delegation of anti-Common Core state lawmakers are headed to Oklahoma today to hear how leaders there were able to successfully repeal the education standards. Among them will be Lake Charles Rep. Brett Geymann who says they'll be meeting with legislators who passed bills that reassert state control over standards and tests.
"We'll go out there and visit with them and their staff just to go over some things that worked for them," said Geymann. "We want to see if we can incorporate some of those ideas into what we have tried in the past and what we're planning on trying out in the next session."
Geymann says they feel Common Core standards are a form of federal government intrusion into something that should be a state matter. He says they want to learn more about how Oklahoma and other states are working to develop better education solutions at the state level.
"The question is how are we going to get to that majority of legislators in the House and Senate to be able to feel comfortable in doing that," said Geymann. "We want to go learn from the guys who have just done it in a state that somewhat represents our political makeup."
Geymann says they plan to integrate their findings from Oklahoma into their ongoing leadership in efforts to craft sensible solutions for replacing Common Core. He says this federal overreach in Louisiana's classrooms needs to stop.
"Parents are very concerned and teachers are very concerned," said Geymann. "We need to find a way to get out of this."
The Shreveport Police Department says two men are behind bars for allegedly beating up a 91-year-old man after they tried to rob him of casino winnings. Corporal Marcus Hines says just after midnight, they learned the elderly victim, who is a World War II Veteran, had just won a small jackpot at the Eldorado Casino.
"These two suspects observed the man walking into a restroom and they followed up, robbed him of his winnings and assaulted him in the process," said Hines.
Hines says 39-year-old John Perkins and 60-year-old Gary Smith are each charged with second degree robbery. He says the elderly man was transported to a hospital with minor injuries.
"And what's more egregious is that this is a man fought for our country and the fact that two people would steal his money and beat him up is ridiculous," said Hines.
He says thankfully the elderly victim is going to make a full recovery.
As of this afternoon, five candidates have signed up to challenge US Representative Vance McAllister in the 5th Congressional District. One of the main republicans in the race signed up Thursday. Zach Dasher is a businessman and nephew of "Duck Dynasty" TV star Phil Robertson. Dasher says if elected, he'll do what the voters want.
"They (voters) say the number one issue they are looking for in a Congressman is someone who will fight to dismantle the federal takeover and restore God back into Congress. That's exactly what are platform is about. That's what we are doing."
As of now, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo is the only democrat who has qualified in the race. Mayo ran in last year's special election in the fifth congressional district and finished third in the open primary.
Mayo has been the mayor in Monroe for 13 years and he says if elected he'll worry more about the people of the 5th district, than national issues. . While the mayor hasn't raised a lot of money for his campaign, he believes he has a good chance at winning.
"I felt like I had the opportunity to be the only democrat in the race, which is very good for my candidacy."
Three well funded republicans have already qualified to challenge McAllister and they are Ralph Abraham, Harris Brown and Zach Dasher. Grant Parish attorney Ed Tarpley is also in the race.
The Baton Rouge Police Department says the 5-year-old child who was taken to the hospital this week after allegedly being beaten by his father, died last night. Corporal Don Coppola says the little boy was brought in this week
suffering multiple brain bleeds, bruises in various stages of healing, contusions to the forehead and malnourishment.
"He died last night around 9:44 in the evening," said Coppola.
Coppola says the father of the child, 36-year-old Varnell Day Jr., is now charged with first degree murder due to the suspected abuse which resulted in the death of his son. He says little Jay'v'une Bergin was in critical condition when he was first examined by doctors.
"We were notified Tuesday at 2am by hospital personnel who recognized the signs of abuse," said Coppola.
Coppola says the dad initially stated that the child had fallen off the bed which is why he was injured but that story didn't add up. He says initially Day was charged with attempted first degree murder.
He says that charge will be upgraded to first degree murder.
According to data published by the New York Times, Louisiana has the most native-born residents in the country. The newspaper indicates they found nearly four out of five Louisiana citizens were born in Louisiana.
Demographer Elliott Stonecipher says this is due, in large part, to the fact that we have high out-migration numbers.
"I mean you end up with nobody new moving in, a lot of people who were relatively newer moved out," said Stonecipher. "And that's what raises the number of people that are native born."
Last month the Wall Street Journal published a study that found the top five happiest cities are all in The Bayou State. Stoneciper says many people who are born here are instilled with no desire to leave.
"There's no question that they are staying," said Stonecipher. "We're down to 4.6 million people who far, disproportionately, want to be here."
Stonecipher says another reason so many Louisianians never leave is because they don't have the means to do so. He says along with that there are many people here who don't want to ever live outside of Louisiana because they are satisfied in The Bayou State.
"There are states immediately to our left and even Florida that don't have a state income tax," said Stonecipher. "But people are still here because they want to be."
Eight candidates have qualified so far for the soon to be vacated 6th Congressional District seat. This race is highlighted by Democratic former governor Edwin Edwards and Republicans Dan Claitor, Paul Dietzel, and Garret Graves.
Edwards says he was first in Congress back in 1965 and he's anxious to go back.
"And I hope in some small way I can make a contribution. I do console myself by telling myself and my friends, 'I can't make it any worse than it is, but I'll try to make it better.'"
He acknowledges that the sixth district is a conservative area. But Edwards feels this election will not be about political parties, but about principles and performance.
"I'm experienced and certainly dedicated to the public good."
Republican Garret Graves says Edwards brings a certain circus-like mentality to the race.
"I think that it is more so a distraction than it is substantive. But we're going to do everything we can to make this race a substantive race."
The candidate field in this race is expected to be very crowded. Graves says with a field like this, candidates will have to distinguish themselves.
"By talking about their ideas, their experience, and their solutions rather than being stuck on the mud slinging and the personal attacks."
The East Baton Rouge Sheriff's office has released a picture of the vehicle that was involved in last weekend's fatal shooting of a seven-year-old boy in Baton Rouge. Sheriff Sid Gautreaux says surveillance video from a nearby residence captured a light-colored, four-door sedan in the area when a shot was fired into another vehicle, killing Terrez Coleman.
"We're asking anyone that knows anything about this vehicle or this shooting, we need you to call the sheriff's office at (225) 389-5073," Gautreaux said.
Gautreaux says through private donations, a 10-thousand dollar reward is being offered, along with the 25-hundred dollar reward from Crime Stoppers, for information that leads to the arrest and indictment of the gunman.
Gautreaux says at this time his detectives believe this was a random act of violence. He hopes the reward money and seriousness of the crime will lead to someone providing an important tip in the case.
Incumbent US Senator Mary Landrieu and her main challenger, Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy, have officially signed up for the Senate race in the November 4th election. Today was the first day of qualifying which runs through Friday. Landrieu, who has held the office for 18 years, says this campaign is about leadership.
"It's about being effective and I've helped lead this delegation in delivering very significant pieces of legislation that have helped our state," said Landrieu.
Cassidy says it's important to remove Senator Landrieu from Congress so the GOP can regain control. He says the incumbent's ties to President Obama and his policies hurt Louisiana.
But Landrieu says Cassidy is doing everything he can to avoid talking about the real issues of this campaign.
"Because his record is very sparse and very modest," says Landrieu. "So he really can't talk about a record of leadership so he's got to talk about all sorts of other things and unfortunately you will continue to hear that."
But Cassidy says most people agree that this country is going in the wrong direction under Mr. Obama and Landrieu is part of the problem for supporting the President 97% of the time.
"If she really thinks that supporting Barack Obama and Obamacare are important to Louisiana's families, then clearly we differ," said Cassidy.
Cassidy says his main message to voters leading up to election day will be that we can do better than we're doing right now.
"We have to ask why Landrieu is supporting Obama almost all the time,'" Cassidy said.
State education superintendent John White says public schools are moving forward with Common Core education standards after a judge lifts the Jindal administration's suspension of contracts for the tests tied to Common Core. White says it's time that we focus on the welfare of the student.
"Everyday we take attention away from the classroom and we keep it in the courtroom, is a day of opportunity lost for the young people of Louisiana," White said.
White says students in grades third through eighth can anticipate taking new english and math tests as part of the Common Core standards. Despite the ruling, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols is still concerned a legal contract is not in place to give out the exam known as PARCC.
"Our view is that there's a defect in the way they've structured the contracts," Nichols said.
After Nichols spoke, White says Judge Todd Hernandez's ruling is clear and it says the current contract can be used to provide the tests tied to Common Core.
"I'm a little sad and a little disappointed that we just don't take what the judge said to be what is, and just move ahead and talk about student learning."
The three day qualifying period for the November election begins today. The "big one" of course is the US Senate race between major players the incumbent Dem. Mary Landrieu and Rep. challenger Bill Cassidy. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says this race has been seesawing back and forth and that will continue.
"There will be 10 to 15 million dollars spent by the time it's all over," said Dubos. "And probably 10 million or more just spent by the Republicans and their allies against Mary Landrieu. And she will spend probably 6 to 10 million dollars herself."
Dubos says every time Landrieu runs it's a very tough race and the toughest she's ever run and this one is no exception. He says the money is all about the "air game" but it'll be the voter turnout that will decide this election.
Dubos says tea party favorite Rob Maness will also have a significant impact on this ballot.
"He takes probably 95% of his votes, or more, from Cassidy," said Dubos. "So his candidacy could help Landrieu run first but the odds still favor a runoff in December."
Dubos says this race will probably have one of the largest turnouts that we've had in the last decade.
He says there's been so much money spent on commercials which just reminds people to get out and vote.
"And then it's a question of getting them out on Election Day and beforehand because there's been an increasing trend in early voting," said Dubos.
Judge Todd Hernandez sided with Common Core proponents, Tuesday, and lifted the Jindal administration's suspension of testing contracts tied to the controversial education standards. This lawsuit was filed by teachers and parents who claim Governor Jindal overstepped his Constitutional authority when he halted the implementation of Common Core.
An attorney for the plaintiffs, Stephen Kupperman, says they're obviously pleased with the ruling.
"He viewed everything on the evidence as it was presented to him, and then the arguments of counsel. And I think he was convinced, as were we, that this was the right thing to do."
In his written ruling, Hernandez says it would be a detriment to teachers, students, and schools if he did not rule as he did. The governor's office says they will appeal the ruling. Kupperman says three plaintiffs took the stand to testify about their concerns for their children and the state.
"I think he was clearly influenced by that. He listened very carefully and closely during all of the testimony."
A statement from Governor Jindal's office says that they believe the judge is wrong on the facts and the law and hopes he will reconsider this ruling at the full trial. Kupperman says there is still a lot of legal wrangling left to go, but he believes the Common Core aligned testing will be used at the end of this school year.
"Which is really what BESE agreed to do back in 2010 and what the legislature pretty much commanded for the state in 2012."
The Covington Police Department has arrested Richard Reed, the brother of the St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed, on charges of sexual battery. Police Chief Tim Lentz says the incident occurred earlier this month when police were called to a restaurant.
"There was an incident involving Richard Reed where he'd flash some district attorney credentials at a traffic stop involving an intoxicated woman," said Lentz.
Lentz says he became suspicious of Reeds intentions, so he reviewed surveillance video from the restaurant and what he saw was disturbing.
"Mr Reed is observed in the video groping the woman's breasts and placing his hands in the area of her genitalia on more than one occasion," said Lentz. "When our victim realized what was taking place she resisted his advances with violence."
Lentz says Reed was taken into custody last night.