Wherein we handicap the runoff races for City-Parish Council.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council sworn in on Jan. 4, 2016, will be a lot different than the current council — that’s a given. Two current council members didn’t seek re-election on Oct. 24, two more are in runoffs. Will the next council be more or less conservative than the current council? That remains to be seen, but much hinges on the runoff elections on Nov. 21.
Here’s our take:
Brandon Shelvin, incumbent Democrat, versus Pat Lewis, Democrat
Shelvin is in trouble. His showing in the Oct. 24 primary — 38 percent of the overall vote compared to 24 percent for Lewis in a four-person field — was lower than many expected. Shelvin’s support among ministers in the majorityblack district has severely eroded over the last four years. The also-rans in the race were Republican Ursula Anderson, who got 20 percent of the primary vote, and Democrat John Petersen, the only white candidate in the race who eked out 16 percent. Both Petersen and Anderson tell The Independent they are supporting Lewis in the runoff.
Moreover, United Ballot, the Northside political machine headed by former Councilman Chris Williams, appears to have reached a nadir in its influence in the black community. (United Ballot also endorsed Dee Stanley for city-parish president, and we see how well that went.)
According to more than one source, the business community in Lafayette, which is typically of a fair complexion, wants Shelvin out because of his voting tendencies on the council. But the chamber of commerce crowd in Lafayette will stay out of the runoff, knowing that an endorsement of Lewis by “The Man” will only help Shelvin.
As one source put it, “I think Brandon is in some deep doodoo.”
With two endorsements in the bag, we’ll give a paper-thin advantage to Lewis.
Andy Naquin, incumbent Republican, versus Bruce Conque, no party
This is Naquin’s race to lose. We make that observation with regret because Naquin has been a stick in the mud on the council, known mainly for two things: what he’s against and taking his marching orders from the Tea Party.
But as one source put it, “Dead skunks and yellow lines are the only thing in the middle of the road.” Challenger Conque, who is himself a former councilman for District 6 before resigning early in his second term to take a job with the chamber of commerce (now One Acadiana), is not affiliated with a political party. And while that helps in some quarters — more and more voters are registering no party over the last few election cycles — it doesn’t help when most of the other runoff races on the ballot in Lafayette Parish are GOP heavy, including the sheriff’s runoff, the runoff for House District 45 and the state attorney general runoff, all of which feature only Republican candidates. Conque is not likely to be helped, according to our sources, by the statewide races — governor and lieutenant governor — pitting a D against an R. “No party” is no party.
Naquin also has a sizeable financial advantage, although Conque will work his tail off on the ground game. Also look for Conque to pick up some key endorsements in the final stretch. But the advantage goes to Naquin.
Liz Webb Hebert, Republican, versus Gerald Judice, Republican
This is the hardest to call, and for many, especially the moderate Republicans who dominate Lafayette Parish politics, the urgency of the race is dissipated since Tea Party favorite Carol Ross was eliminated in the primary. Judice was urged to run in the primary in large part to serve as a bulwark against Ross getting the seat; the City-Parish Council is steeped enough in know-nothing-ism with Tea Party foot soldiers William Theriot and Jared Bellard. (The latter won his re-election bid; the former ran unopposed.)
But, conversely as a result of Ross being eliminated, the typically energized hard-right conservatives in South Lafayette will likely be less energized to vote, too. That could favor Hebert, who by most appearances is the more moderate candidate in the contest. Hebert has a dedicated phalanx of young, socialmedia-hip voters who turned out in heavy numbers for her in the primary. There’s also been some speculation that now that Robideaux is city-parish presidentelect, pro-Robideaux voters might be less likely to vote in the runoff. That favors Webb, too, because it was Camp Robideaux, according to our sources, that recruited Judice to run in the first place.
This one is too tough to call, but we’ll give a slight edge to Hebert.
THE NOV. 21 BALLOT IN LAFAYETTE PARISH
John Bel Edwards (Democrat)
David Vitter (Republican)
Melvin L. “Kip” Holden (Democrat)
“Billy” Nungesser (Republican)
James D. “Buddy” Caldwell (Republican)
“Jeff” Landry (Republican)
STATE REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT 45
André Comeaux (Republican)
Jean-Paul Coussan (Republican)
Mark T. Garber (Republican)
Chad Leger (Republican)
CITY-PARISH COUNCIL DISTRICT 3
Patrick “Pat” Lewis (Democrat)
Brandon Shelvin (Democrat)
CITY-PARISH COUNCIL DISTRICT 6
Bruce Conque (No Party)
“Andy” Naquin (Republican)
CITY-PARISH COUNCIL DISTRICT 8
Elizabeth Webb Hebert (Republican)
Gerald Judice (Republican)