ABBEVILLE, La. (AP) - A Republican candidate late Saturday won a special election for a Louisiana state Senate seat, according to unofficial returns, a result that if certified would give the GOP control of the Senate for the first time since Reconstruction.
The Louisiana Secretary of State's office reported on its website that Republican state Rep. Jonathan Perry narrowly defeated Democrat Nathan Granger in the race to fill a vacant state Senate seat. Unofficial returns show Perry receiving 52 percent of the vote to Granger's 48 percent, with all 106 precincts reporting.
The contest was closely watched because the state Senate is currently split, with 19 Republicans and 19 Democrats. After a number of party switches, Republicans recently took control of the state House. Republican Bobby Jindal is the governor.
A Louisiana elections official said the state Senate results still must be certified and can be contested until Feb. 28.
Granger told The Associated Press that he left phone and text messages with Perry offering his congratulations. "The message I left was, 'Congratulations on a great win. Good luck to him and I wish him well."'
Granger said his staff will review the results but that he didn't expect to contest them.
The race for the Acadiana-area seat near Baton Rouge pitted Perry, a lawyer and state representative from Kaplan, against Granger of Erath, a member of the Vermilion Parish Police Jury and owner of an oil services company.
Democrat Nick Gautreaux, in office since 2004, resigned from the Senate seat in December to become commissioner of the Office of Motor Vehicles.