NEW ORLEANS — Democrat Mary Landrieu, a former state treasurer, led in early returns from Saturday's primary for Louisiana's open Senate seat. State Rep. Woody Jenkins, who championed a bill to ban all abortions, bid for the second spot in a runoff.
For most of the campaign, second place seemed to belong to Democratic Atty. Gen. Richard Ieyoub. But he faltered in the polls recently after negative publicity about his use of campaign money and as some GOP leaders rallied around Jenkins.
Fifteen candidates in all were in the running to succeed Democratic Sen. J. Bennett Johnston, who is retiring after 24 years.
With a portion of absentee ballots reported, Landrieu had 377 votes, or 23%; Jenkins had 281 votes, or 17%; Ieyoub had 276 votes, or 17%; and David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, was fourth with 206 votes, or 13%.
Two exit polls suggested a one-two finish for Landrieu and Jenkins. A survey by WDSU-TV of New Orleans said Landrieu had 31%, with 25% for Jenkins and 19% for Ieyoub. WWL-TV also found Landrieu far ahead, with Jenkins second.
Under Louisiana's open-primary system, all candidates run on the same ballot regardless of party. With so many in the race, no one was expected to win the majority needed to avoid a Nov. 5 runoff.