In roughly two and a half weeks, voters in the 5th District of Louisiana in the U.S. House of Representatives most likely will send a second doctor to Congress in less than 20 years.
At least that’s what appears to be unfolding in the race between Dr. Ralph Abraham, a Republican from Mangham in Richland Parish, and Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, an African-American Democrat who’s originally from Morehouse Parish.
We can’t say Abraham is riding the Republican wave that swept the country in Nov. 4 elections when the GOP took control of the Senate and padded its majority in the House. Republicans would like you to believe it but it’s simply not true.
In the primary earlier this month, Abraham held off a surging conservative, Zach Dasher, to earn a spot in the Dec. 6 runoff with Mayo, who led the field with some 30 percent of the vote. Abraham captured 23 percent while Dasher closed fast but fell short with 22 percent. Like it or not, Mayo’s frontrunner status coming out of the primary was somewhat misleading.
He finished first because he was the only Democrat in the crowded field of candidates and the only African-American. Every other candidate was a Republican, dividing the moderate and conservative vote in more ways than one.
Let us not forget that more than 30 percent of the registered voters in the 5th District are African-American, and it goes without saying that African-Americans have been voting Democrat in droves since the days of FDR.
That’s just the way it is, especially in the Deep South where a sizable portion of the electorate — regardless of race — is uneducated, uninformed and easily misled.
In the eyes of the so-called experts in the political sphere in Washington, the 5th District is considered a safe Republican district. That’s the case in spite of registered Democrats outnumbering Republicans in the 5th, and we all know that simply because a voter is a registered Democrat doesn’t necessarily mean he or she will cast a ballot for a Democrat on Election Day.
Party labels aren’t as important in the 5th District of Louisiana as they are in other regions of the country. We simply have not divided ourselves entirely along party lines.
We’re still divided along racial lines to some degree, though, and you can wager your next mortgage payment that Abraham will capture a super majority of the white vote in the December election while Mayo must rely on African-Americans and a select group of elitist, ultra-liberal whites and the big government crowd. And that represents a losing coalition in the 5th District in any election in this day and age.
Abraham’s success thus far in this election cycle may remind you John Cooksey, a Republican and a physician like Abraham who was elected to the House in the 5th District in November, 1996. Both men had enjoyed successful careers practicing medicine — and still do — before taking the plunge to seek elected office. They both have military backgrounds. They’re both what we would consider hawks on national defense issues, but at the same time, neither man embraces a hard line on those wedge issues that divide Democrats and Republicans across the country. Regardless of their conservative beliefs, it’s just not their style to bloviate for a television camera.
And that might help explain why voters gravitated to them.
Sam Hanna Jr. is publisher of The Ouachita Citizen, and he serves in an editorial/management capacity with The Concordia Sentinel and The Franklin Sun, three newspapers owned and operated by the Hanna family. He can be reachd by call 318-805-8158 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.