BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) — A tight race between Louisiana State Senate candidates could force a three-way runoff next month in the Baton Rouge area.
A computerized recount from Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin shows state Rep. Steve Carter and Rep. Franklin Foil — both Republicans — tied for second against Democratic front-runner Beverly Brooks Thompson, in the race for Senate District 16.
An initial count showed Foil with 12,533 votes, eight ahead of Carter. But Ardoin told the candidates Sunday that ballot-counters had double-tallied some mail-in votes, and that Foil had fewer votes than first thought.
“I think there is a reasonable likelihood that there will be some changes in the result after they look through all the paper ballots,” Foil told BRProud.com in an interview Monday.
Foil plans to request an additional recount of mail-in ballots; candidates have until 4:30 p.m. Wednesday to submit such an appeal.
“We are going to follow the process and make sure that all people’s votes are recorded,” Foil said. “Hopefully at the end of the day we’ll be fortunate enough to make the runoff.”
If further recounts show Foil and Carter still tied, both Republicans will face Thompson in the Nov. 16 runoff. Whoever gets a plurality of votes would win.
A three-way race could leave Thompson, a fundraising consultant, better poised to flip a district long in Republican control. Its current office-holder, Republican Sen. Dan Claitor, is term-limited. (Past senators of the district include now-U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy and current Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne.)
Whether Republican leaders will rally for one GOP candidate over the other remains unclear. The Republican Party of Louisiana did not return BRProud.com’s requests for comment Monday.
Neither Foil, nor Carter have voiced intentions to exit the race.
“I am as committed today as I was when I entered this race back in February,” Carter said in a statement Monday afternoon. “We weren’t going to count ourselves out until we got the official results. I’ll be back out knocking on doors this afternoon!”
“My position in the lead for Senate District 16 is unchanged and our campaign will relentlessly press forward without distraction,” Thompson said in a statement. “Should a tie remain, the citizens should have the opportunity to vote on the top three candidates from the primary and choose their next senator. It is my sincere hope both gentlemen have the courage to do the right thing by the voters and proceed ahead in accordance with the law.”
Other candidates who vied for Senate District 16 ended their bids Saturday. Republican Bob Bell received 4 percent, while Libertarian Everett Baudean won 3 percent.
Three-way runoffs are rare in Louisiana politics. They have happened 11 times in state history — never before for a legislative seat.