Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster (R) won a second term today, becoming the second member of his family to usher in a new century as governor.
The state's unique open primary system pits all candidates against one another in one primary race, regardless of party. If no one wins more than half the votes, the top two candidates go into a runoff.
Foster received well over half, easily besting his 11 challengers.
His top-running challenger, Rep. William J. Jefferson (D), the state's first black congressman since Reconstruction, had about one-third of the votes.
Jefferson spent much of the campaign blaming Foster for Louisiana's public education woes and trying to tie the governor to former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
He questioned Foster's 1995 purchase of Duke's list of supporters, over which Foster was ordered to pay a $20,000 ethics violation fine for failing to disclose on a campaign report.
Foster countered the attacks with saturation television ads reminding voters that he was the first governor in at least 30 years to push three straight teacher raises through the Legislature, adding $1 billion to the education budget.
"I'm feeling good about it and I'm ready to get back to work," Foster said Saturday night from his election party in Lafayette.
Jefferson had the vocal support of President Clinton in the contest against Foster, a wealthy planter who came out of nowhere in 1995 to win the seat that had been dominated off and on for years by populist Democrat Edwin Edwards. Foster's grandfather was governor at the turn of the century.