Elections Expert: Courts likely would side with Breaux

March 8, 2007
Reported by Associated Press

A state elections law expert says there's nothing in the state Constitution to prevent former U.S. Senator John Breaux from entering the Louisiana governor's race, despite Republican claims that Breaux doesn't appear to meet legal requirements.

Breaux, a Democrat who remained popular throughout his congressional career, hasn't said whether he will enter the race, but he's seen as a serious contender -- and possibly a replacement for Democratic Governor Kathleen Blanco -- if he chooses to run in the October 20th primary.

To be eligible to run for a statewide elected office, the Louisiana Constitution requires that a person be a "citizen" of the state for "at least the preceding five years."

Breaux is registered to vote and lists his primary address in Maryland, about 70 miles from Washington, where he works for the lobbying firm of Patton Boggs. Republicans say that would disqualify him from running for Louisiana governor.

But Bill Bryan, an assistant attorney general who deals with elections law, said any challenge to the candidacy of Breaux or anyone else in his situation would "come down to a definition of citizen."

In challenging the qualifications of a candidate, Bryan says the burden of proof is on the person trying to prove the candidate is not qualified.

Bryan says the issue has arisen in several other candidacies, and Louisiana judges have consistently ruled that they would rather let voters decide if a candidate could win.