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Senator David Vitter gave his farewell speech on the Senate floor Monday, as he will leave the office he’s held since January 2005. Vitter says as a Louisiana state legislator he worked to impose term limits here, as well as authoring the leading term limits measure for Congress. He says that’s why he’s imposing one on himself.

“Congress can only be an effective representative body when it lives under the same laws it imposes on the rest of the country, and one major way to support that is through term limits,” Vitter said.

Vitter says in his tenure he’s worked to protect 2nd Amendment rights and the right to life. He says he’s helped stopped automatic pay raises in Washington and worked on Obamacare reform to make the healthcare more patient oriented.

The outgoing Senator thanked embers of his team, his colleagues, and friends in Washington. But he says he owes the most to his wife, Wendy.

“Through it all Wendy has been so supportive and understanding, not to mention being the life of every Team Vitter party, leading the rounds of fireball shots,” Vitter said.


 
 
 
 

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LSU star RB Leonard Fournette made it official by announcing he will enter the 2017 NFL draft after the Tigers’ bowl game on December 31st.
 
Fournette made the announcement on Twitter and said he plans to play in the Citrus Bowl, despite a nagging ankle injury.

Fournette entered his junior campaign as a candidate to win the Heisman Trophy, but he never fully recovered from an ankle injury suffered during preseason camp.
 
The New Orleans native failed to rush for 1,000 yards this season and scored eight touchdowns in seven games.
 
He set the school's single-game rushing record with 284 yards against Ole Miss in October. That record was broken in the regular season finale when Derrius Guice rushed for 285 yards against Texas A&M.
 
Fournette has 3,755 yards for his career, which is the fourth highest in LSU history.
 
Despite injury issues, NFL draft analyst Mike Detillier says it's possible that Fournette could be the number one overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft. Detillier says Fournette is second highest ranked player on his draft board and Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett is number one.  

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A new survey out of Tulane reveals US Senate candidate Republican John Kennedy has a healthy lead in the race against Democrat Foster Campbell in the runoff. Brian Brox, associate professor of Political Science, says they found 59% of respondents said they would vote for Kennedy, while 40% said Campbell is their choice.


He says the Republican has always been favored in Saturday's race.

"December 10th will be a low turnout affair," said Brox. "And the unusually timed affair, most of those voters tend to have more Republican and conservative characteristics."

The survey found that, when the presidential vote of the respondent is considered, nearly 83 percent of Trump voters said they plan to vote for Kennedy.

Brox says it's interesting that just 69 percent of Clinton voters said they would vote for Campbell. He attributes that to people that voted for Clinton because they didn't want to vote for Trump.

"These are perhaps people that where either Republicans or conservative Democrats, who just couldn't vote for Trump," said Brox. "But now that he's no longer on the ballot they feel comfortable voting for Kennedy in the runoff."

Brox says supporters of the Senate candidate who did not make the runoff are splitting along partisan lines. He believes many voters feel that voting for the Democrat in this race means choosing the minority party since Republicans will control the Senate.

"So electing a Republican would that person in the majority party," said Brox.
 
 
 

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Only 171,000 of the state’s 3 million registered voters cast their ballots during the early voting period. Pollster John Couvillion, with JMC Analytics, predicts turnout for the runoff to be 35%, at the most. He says a runoff during the holiday season has always been bad for turnout, plus this Senate race isn’t exciting voters.

“Now that it’s in the runoff, where in 16 parishes the Senate race is the only thing on the ballot parish wide, I just think people aren’t really engaged on this one.”

Couvillion says early voting data showed Democratic enthusiasm is lacking, with the percentage of black voters lower than in the primary. He says the only exception to this is in East Baton Rouge Parish, because of the hotly contested mayoral race.

“For the Presidential race, 37% of early voters in East Baton Rouge Parish were black, it was 40% as of Saturday night and so that extra few percentage points clearly benefits Sharon Weston-Broome.”

Former State Senator Broome is facing Republican State Senator Bodi White in the Baton Rouge mayoral election. Only six percent of the state’s registered voters hit the polls for early voting. Couvillion says he was very impressed with the number of early voters in the primary, but….

“The lack of volume in the runoff has been just as surprising and it’s the worst I’ve seen since the 2011 statewide races when you had a 37% turnout.”

 
 

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Officials with the Camping World Independence Bowl in Shreveport are excited about their December 26th contest that pits North Carolina State versus Vanderbilt. Bowl Spokesperson Stefan Nolet says the ACC and SEC matchup marks the second time in three seasons the two conferences have played each other in this bowl. He says both teams finished the season strong.

“So we’re expecting a really good game. Historically, 12 of the past 17 games here at the Independence Bowl have been decided by seven points or less so chances are it’s going to be a really great game here.”

Kick off for the Independence Bowl is at 4 p.m. Nolet expects Vanderbilt fans are excited because they haven’t been to a bowl since 2013 and seem to travel well. But he says traveling on the day after Christmas can be tough, but…

“We hope that the people here locally and regionally are able to make it out with the day after Christmas being a federal holiday.”

Louisiana Tech is also excited about its bowl destination. The Bulldogs will play 25th ranked Navy on December 23rd in Fort Worth, Texas in the Armed Forced Bowl. Athletic Director Tommy McClelland expects this will be a high scoring game. He says the kick-off is at 3 p.m. and predicts tons of fans will attend, like in past bowl games.

“It’s an easy drive, get in your car that morning to drive over to Amon G. Carter Stadium at TCU, watch the game and be able to drive back, so we do anticipate a large crowd.”

McClelland expects anywhere from 500 to a thousand students will attend the game. He says they were presented the option to play Army in the Heart of Dallas Bowl or a top 25 Navy team, so they selected the team that would give players another new experience.

“We feel like that’s the better opponent for our team that we have, we have a pretty good team. We selected a better team, a better matchup. And also it would be a third bowl in three years.”

 
 

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It’s a cold, rainy day across the Bayou State, and state climatologist Barry Keim says this is typical for winter in Louisiana. He says a storm is tracking across the southern part of the state today, bringing more of the wet weather we saw all weekend.

“Over the past few days the entire state has had substantive rainfall already occur, with parts of southwest Louisiana receiving over 10 inches, and there’s more rain to come today with the potential for anywhere from one to three and a half inches,” Keim said.

Flash flood watches are in effect until 3pm in southwest and central Louisiana parishes. Keim says there’s also the potential for severe weather today in south Louisiana as warm air is colliding with cold air.

“Once that happens, the threat does go up, and there’s always a chance for hail, tornados, and high winds to occur under those conditions. So we just need to be smart about it,” Keim said. 

Keim says the rain should finally move out of the state today and then we can get ready for our real dose of cold weather before the weekend arrives.

“We can expect some clearing by very late tonight into tomorrow morning and milder temperatures by Tuesday and Wednesday across the state, but we have much colder air headed our way for Thursday and Friday,” Keim said.

 
 
 
 
 

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The jury selection in the trial of Cardell Hayes, the man accused of killing Former Saints defensive end Will Smith, begins today. A judge has determined that the jury will be sequestered for the entire trial. Legal Analyst Chick Foret says it will be hard for people to leave their families during the holiday season.

“We’re going to have a number of difficulties in selecting the jury but there are plenty of jurors who are going to be there and I’m confident that Judge Buras will have a jury no later than mid-day on Tuesday.”

Foret says it’s important to make sure that the jury hears testimony from the witnesses, the evidence and nothing else.

“They’re not going to be influenced through legal analysts, or reporters or journalists and they’re going to be influenced by exactly by what the evidence is and what the law is as given to them by Judge Buras.”

Jurors will not have access to TV’s or telephones. But Foret says Judge Buras has promised to move the case along quickly and trial testimony will be heard even on weekends.

“There will be seven or eight days of trial that the jury will be sequestered and the trial will take place. It’s going to take, in my estimation, a week to try this case.”

 
 

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The 20th ranked LSU Tigers will get a chance to spend the final week of 2016 in sunny Florida where they'll play 13th ranked Louisville in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl on December 31st. 
 
It will be an early start on New Year's eve day as the game will kickoff at 11 AM eastern, 10 AM central time.


The Bayou Bengals bring a 7-4 record to Orlando, while the Cardinals are 9-3. It will be an interesting match-up between the Tigers defense, which gave up the fourth-fewest points in the country against a Louisville offense that's led by a potential Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Lamar Jackson. 
 
Jackson set an ACC record with touchdowns in a season as he threw 30 passing TDs and scored 21 times rushing the football.
 
It will be the first ever meeting between Louisville and LSU on the football field. It will also be Coach Ed Orgeron's first game as the full-time head coach for the Tigers.  
 
The Tigers will make their fourth appearance in the Citrus Bowl. The last time they played in Orlando was in 2010 against Penn State in a game that was marred by poor field conditions, because of a heavy downpour.  

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The Saints appear to be heading towards another losing season as New Orleans played poorly in a 28-13 loss to the Detroit Lions. The Black and Gold committed 10 penalties and Quarterback Drew Brees threw three interceptions. Detroit jumped out to a 10-0 lead, which did not please Coach Sean Payton.


"Obviously we looked sluggish, it looked like we were coming off a short week," Payton said.
 
The loss drops New Orleans record to 5-7.The Black and Gold are heading towards their fourth losing season in the last five. 
 
"We've been up and down, last week, came out and played well, this week, it was poor, poor start," Payton said.
 
Payton also denied a report the Saints are interested in trading wide receiver Brandin Cooks during the offseason. 
 
"It's a false report, it's an agent picking up the phone, there's nothing to the report."
 
New Orleans will visit Tampa Bay next Sunday.  
 
 
 

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A recent poll from Southern Media and Opinion Research finds Governor John Bel Edwards’ approval rating is at 63%. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says that’s a big improvement over the governor’s approval rating earlier this year.

“John Bel Edwards remains popular in a red state. He’s done better since the sessions over. His popularity picked up after those three or four brutal sessions we had,” Pinsonat said.

A poll from Morning Consult found Edwards’ approval rating was only 45% in the spring, while a UNO poll showed 56% of respondents approved of his job performance in October. Pinsonat says Edwards’ response to all the floods, tornadoes, and other issues the state has seen this year may have helped boost his numbers.

“His numbers have been able to go up mainly because the good marks he got during the various disasters Louisiana has had to deal with over the last 6 or 7 or 8 months,” Pinsonat said.

The poll also found that the state is split on the direction Louisiana is heading. Pinsonat says 41% of respondents believe the state is heading in the right direction, while 40% say it’s the wrong direction. He says that’s understandable given all the issues Louisiana is facing.

“With the budget cuts, cost of higher education is increasing, the economy is still stuck in the mud, so there are a lot of things out there that are making people say they’re not real happy about the direction of the state,” Pinsonat said.

The poll shows 42% of voters think conditions will improve, while 19% say it will get worse.

 
 
 
 
 

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The Louisiana Department of Health reminds the public that December is the start of peak flu season. Dr. Frank Welch with LDH says flu activity has been low so far this year, as only 2 out of every 100 doctor visits in Louisiana have been flu related. He says there are things people can do to avoid getting sick.

“Wash your hands, cover your cough, and really if you are sick, please stay home from school and work until you’re better so that you don’t spread it to other people,” Welch said.

Welch says we’re at a higher risk of catching the flu during the holiday season. He says many people think that’s because the weather is cold, but it’s really because people spend time in close quarters at holiday parties and avoiding the cold.

“It’s actually the fact that when we get cold weather or inclement weather, everyone stays inside and closes the doors and windows. So we’re just simply closer to each other in those situations,” Welch said.

Welch advises people to clean frequently used surfaces like door knobs when they have people in their homes. He says it’s not too late to get a flu shot, but the shot takes two weeks to take effect. He says even though for most people the flu is a mild inconvenience, it’s important for everyone to get their shot because for some people, the flu can be life threatening.

“Just remember, you have to get the flu from someone else. So even though you wouldn’t get seriously ill with the flu, some people might, and they have to get it from people like you and I,” Welch said.

 
 
 
 
 

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Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser has extended the France-Louisiana Cooperation Accords for four more years. Nungesser says it’s a program that brings French teachers to teach the French history, culture, and language in Louisiana schools.

“It’s a great program that continues to grow. Now it’s over 4,500 students in 10 parishes, and we plan to expand that to many more parishes and many more students across Louisiana,” Nungesser said.

The agreement extends the mutual agreement until 2020. Nungesser says this program supports French immersion programs and the Francophone culture. He says learning French opens doors for Louisiana students.

“It gives them a wider range to look for job opportunities in music, in business, in anything they want to move forward with their life. It just opens up a whole other world to them,” Nungesser said.

Nungesser says the first French course in Louisiana was offered in 1969, and the earliest teachers that were sent by France were military personnel. He says French culture is a huge part of Louisiana heritage.

“We have a long history and a great relationship with France in culture, recreation, tourism, and the learning of the French language here in Louisiana,” Nungesser said.

 
 
 
 
 

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Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand held a news conference today to update the case of the death of former NFL player Joe McKnight during an apparent road rage incident. Multiple protests are taking place over the fact that the shooter, 54-year-old Ronald Gasser, was released claiming self defense.


Normand warned against spreading rumors.

"Any story other than the story that you hear from me, the coroner, or the DA should not be believed," said Normand.

According to a release, McKnight exited his car and was shot by Gasser as he approached the shooter's passenger window. It says Gasser fired 3 rounds from a .40 caliber semiautomatic handgun from the driver's seat of his car, and three hit McKnight.

Sheriff Normand responds to a report that McKnight was trying to resolve the issue with Gasser.

"We have no witness account of an apology being made by Mr. McKnight to Mr. Gasser," said Normand.

Normand said Gasser did not stand over McKnight as reports have stated and that there were 3 casings located inside the vehicle. He also says there was no video.

Normand says Gasser admitted to shooting McKnight, but has not been charged pending the outcome of the investigation.

"This investigation is not going to be moved, influenced coerced or changed in any way, by any external force," said Normand.

The investigation is now in the hands of the DA.
 
 
 

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Louisiana is in for a wet weekend as the cold front that passed us earlier in the week is turning back toward the state. State Climatologist Barry Keim says we have about three to four wet days in front of us. He says northern parishes can expect to see anywhere from five to seven inches of rain.

“Once we saturate these soils over the first day or so, the soils are already pretty saturated from some of our recent rains and as a result it probably won’t take a whole lot to get flash flooding as a problem.”

Keim says the upside to this wet weather is it will likely eliminate most of the drought we’ve seen across the state.

“If you’re in the farming business or trying to do cattle ranching, this is probably the best thing that you could ever see. So all in all, this is a good thing for the state, we could use the rain.”

Keim says severe weather threats are very minimal with this returning front. He says temperatures will remain relatively mild.

“We’re going to be socked in with a lot of cloudiness and by virtue of that I’d say to expect temperatures between says 50 to 75 degrees for the next three days. We’re not going to see a lot of movement in the temperature.”

 
 

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An arrest has been made in the case of the Bourbon Street shooting that left Demontris Toliver dead and 9 others injured. NOPD Chief Michael Harrison says 20-year-old Jordan Clay of Lafayette has been charged with 2nd degree murder. He says a multi-agency investigation led to his arrest.

“We collected and analyzed multiple angels of surveillance video in and around the area. We interviewed victims and witnesses from the scene. We expanded our reach and resources on the ground by partnering with our regional, state, and federal partners,” Harrison said.

Harrison says Clay was arrested in St. Martin parish, where he is currently being held as he awaits extradition to New Orleans. He says they are still searching for a second suspect in the incident that occurred over the Thanksgiving weekend, the same weekend as the Bayou Classic.

“Through the course of this investigation, we were able to identify the suspects as two men from the Lafayette area who were in town for the weekend festivities,” Harrison said.

Harrison says the shooting occurred at 1 am last Sunday in the 100 block of Bourbon Street. He says the investigation is ongoing as they continue their search for the other suspect and try to identify a motive.

“We believe that Clay and the remaining suspect. They had been involved in an ongoing dispute outside of New Orleans, and they met again on Bourbon St. that morning. That encounter turned violent, and a shootout followed,” Harrison said.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Edwards’ family is getting in the holiday spirit as they will spend their first Christmas in the Governor’s Mansion. The family was displaced during the August flooding but are now settling back into life in the mansion. First Lady Donna Edwards is hosting a Joyeux Noel celebration at her home this afternoon at 3 p.m. to show off the improvements she’s made.

“We’ve been steadily painting and I’ve started a Louisiana Governor’s Mansion Preservation Foundation and we’re back up and going with that.

Edwards says after taking on about 7 feet of water in the basement, she hopes displaying Louisiana’s French heritage and culture during the Joyeux Noel event will raise money for the Mansion. She says they’ve revamped the backyard.

“Our satsuma trees are just bending over full of satsumas and the garden right now looks beautiful.”

Guests of the event will be treated with holiday snacks, music and a special visit from Papa Noel. Edwards says she worked closely with other former First Ladies to spruce up the Mansion.

“I worked with First Lady Alice Foster earlier in the year and we had a nice luncheon with she and a lot of the ladies in the First Foundation so they were able to guide me through this process.”

 
 

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A new poll from Southern Media and Opinion Research finds Republican John Kennedy still has a strong lead over Democrat Foster Campbell in the US Senate race. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says the results are not surprising.

“We all think that John Kennedy has a big advantage being in red state Louisiana. This poll confirms that he’s got a 14 point lead. He’s leading 52% to 38%,” Pinsonat said.

Voters are split about Campbell, according to the poll of 500 likely Louisiana voters, as 46% view him favorably and 45% unfavorably. Pinsonat says it is unlikely Campbell will make a late charge as just under 10% of voters are undecided.

“There’s very few people undecided. That’s because it’s Louisiana. It’s a red state, and this is another race where it’s about party. It’s Democrats and Republicans,” Pinsonat said.

The poll finds 58% of respondents have a favorable view of Kennedy, while only 35% have unfavorable views of the State Treasurer. Pinsonat says Kennedy has been very popular statewide for the past several years, because he’s been a vocal critic of government spending.

“It’s carried over, and it’s probably going to make him, at this point in time unless something dramatic changes, he’s going to be the next United States Senator from Louisiana being a Republican,” Pinsonat said.

 
 
 
 
 

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The 2nd annual Alex Winter Fête is underway in Alexandria. The three day festival drew almost 30,000 people in its inaugural year. Director of Community Services, Daniel Williams, says this year will be bigger and better than last year.

“We introduced an ice skating rink, a couple other attractions that really focus on the snow globe. We have fireworks on two nights, tons of music, lots of food vendors,” Williams said.

Williams says they have a Polar Express train for kids, as well as their Indie Market, which features unique arts and crafts. He says there’s stilt walkers, fire breathers, face painting, and even Santa will be there. He says they’ve also beefed up their attractions from last year.

“Our fireworks show is going to be bigger and better this year. We have increased our food vendors by about 80%. We have our holiday market,” Williams said.

A firework show will take place tonight at 9:00. Williams says they’ve expanded their ice skating rink to include a kids section, in an effort to cut back on wait times to skate. He says one of the most fun events of the weekend is the Ugly Sweater 5k.

“It’s always good to see the contrast in what someone thinks is an ugly sweater. I guess it’s in the eye of the beholder. The Ugly Sweater 5k is Saturday morning. Registration will be about 7:30, and the race starts at 8,” Williams said.

 
 
 
 
 

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Early voting ends tomorrow and turnout has been lower than expected. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says we’re seeing about 22,000 voters at the polls a day during this early voting week, down 10,000 a day from the primary. He says that doesn’t mean things can’t pick up today and tomorrow.

“But I’m leaning more down to that lower end at the 35 if not even south of that, maybe somewhere between 32-35, so it is low voter turnout.”

The November 8th Presidential election had a voter turnout of 68%. Schedler says we’re seeing a more vigorous turnout on the Republican side than the Democratic side. He also says there’s been a bigger male turnout than female, which isn’t typical.

“And we’ve seen a low voter turnout on the African American side so all those things point to the south, negative but none the less we need to look cautiously optimistic.”

Schedler says we’re seeing predominately chronic voters getting out to early vote. He says one reason for the low turnout is that voters are tired after the grueling November 8th election.

“But none the less, we’ll see, we’ll keep our fingers crossed but certainly not a turnout like we anticipated in the Presidential election and certainly at least 50% less.”

For early voting the polls are open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

 
 

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Vice President-elect Mike Pence will be in New Orleans tomorrow hosting a get-out-the vote rally to spotlight the U.S. Senate race. Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere says Pence will voters to head to the polls on December 10th and cast their ballot for Republican Treasurer John Kennedy.

“We are concerned that people feel like the big news, the big election is over and everything is going to just go back to normal and of course it’s an extremely important election.”

Louisiana Democratic Party executive director Stephen Handwerk believes Pence’s appearance is just for show. He says Republicans were very quick to condemn Kennedy when he was a registered Democrat.

“I do find it ironic that all of a sudden they’re his new best hope.”

Villere says the Vice President-elect will also meet with elected officials, Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser and Attorney General Jeff Landry to discuss the needs of Louisiana.

“And we just feel like our Vice President-elect is coming at a perfect time when we can spend a few minutes with him to visit, tell him some of our concerns and also get some enthusiasm for our election coming up.”

Handwerk says Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Foster Campbell has made a career out of fighting for Louisiana families and he wants to take it to the next level as senator. He says Campbell’s message is resonating with voters.

“John Kennedy on the other hand has nearly 100% name recognition but almost 75% of people in Louisiana voted for somebody else in the primary.”

 
 
 

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