BRADENTON, Fla. - Louisiana State Treasurer John Kennedy handily defeated his Democratic opponent in Saturday's runoff election to win his third attempt for a U.S. Senate seat.
Kennedy, a Republican, received 61% of the ballots cast to Foster Campbell's 39% in a race that drew only 29.2% of registered voters, according to the Louisiana Department of State.
"Somebody once said winning isn't everything, and that's true, but it sure does feel good," Kennedy said during his victory speech Saturday. "I believe that America's best days lie ahead."
On Jan. 3, Kennedy, 65, will replace former Sen. David Vitter, a Republican who did not seek reelection.
Kennedy's last meeting as the often-outspoken chairman of the State Bond Commission likely will be on Thursday, the last meeting of the year.
Kennedy was first elected treasurer in 2000 and was reelected to his fifth term in October 2015.
During that time, he ran as a Democrat against Vitter for the U.S. Senate seat in 2004, and lost.
In 2007, he became a Republican to unsuccessfully challenge former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, in 2008.
First Assistant State Treasurer Ron Henson will replace Kennedy until a special election is called by Gov. John Bel Edwards next year.
Edwards, who supported Campbell, congratulated Kennedy on his victory.
"I look forward to working with [Kennedy] to secure additional funding for flood relief, to make long term investments in our infrastructure, and to bring Louisiana's federal tax dollars home to help our people," Edwards said in a statement. "We face significant challenges in the future, but I know that by working together, we can deliver great things for the people of Louisiana."
Edwards, who expanded Medicaid earlier this year to cover more low-income Louisianians under the Affordable Care Act, did not mention how he planned to work to with Kennedy and the GOP-led Congress to prevent the loss of the program.
Kennedy opposes Obamacare, and Republicans in Congress have said they plans to quickly move forward with repeal of the health care law after president-elect Donald Trump takes office.
Louisiana, which currently faces a $600 million budget gap, stands to lose $2.3 billion in federal Medicaid funding in fiscal 2019 from its participation in the ACA, according to a study by the Urban Institute.
In a local election Saturday, West Baton Rouge voters agreed to tax themselves to allow the parish school district to issue $90 million of general obligation bonds for capital improvements.
The 20-year bonds would be repaid with a property tax millage rate that is expected to range between 8 mills and 15 mills. One mill is $1.00 per $1,000 of assessed value.