Louisiana’s state treasurer on Saturday became the latest Republican that voters will send to Washington, D.C. to serve in the United States Senate. John Neely Kennedy, 65, brings the number of Republicans in the upcoming senate to 52. There will be 46 elected Democrats and two independents when the Senate convenes on Jan. 3. The independents, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine, are members of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

Increasing role for vice president

With the Senate near a partisan tie, the vice president may be more active in the new Senate, being present to cast deciding votes if there are ties in Senate votes.

Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, will perform that role for 17 days until he is succeeded by Vice President Mike Pence, a Republican. The Senate will primarily spend its time preparing for the administration of President Donald Trump by debating the new president’s choices for Cabinet-level positions in his administration. During the 17 days, he remains the vice president, Biden's vote is not expected to have a tremendous impact on the direction of the Trump administration.

Why there was a runoff

In Louisiana, all candidates appear on the November ballot regardless of party affiliation. If no candidate wins the majority of the vote in November, the top two finishers face each other for more balloting in December.

There were 24 candidates on the ballot for the Nov. 8 election to pick a successor to David Vitter, who decided not to run for re-election. Kennedy finished first with 25 percent of the vote, followed by Foster Campbell, a Democrat, who received 17.5 percent. Campbell, 69, is a member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission.

He is a former state senator who has had little luck in moving up the political ladder. He lost in three elections trying to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He also waged an unsuccessful campaign for governor against Bobby Jindal, a Republican who sought the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

Kennedy was elected to a six-year term ending in 2022. He is not related to the late President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

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