Jan. 14, 2011 06:47 PM
A straw poll taken Wednesday night at a New Iberia debate for the District 22 state Senate candidates confirms local speculation that upstart candidates David Groner and Armond Schwing could pose a threat to the presumed frontrunners in the race: State Reps. Fred Mills and Simone Champagne.

A straw poll taken Wednesday night at a New Iberia debate for the District 22 state Senate candidates confirms local speculation that upstart candidates David Groner and Armond Schwing could pose a problem for the presumed frontrunners in the race: State Reps. Fred Mills and Simone Champagne. Groner is a prolific New Iberia attorney making his second bid for the District 22 seat. Schwing is a first time candidate, active in Ducks Unlimited and the local Optimist club, who helps run the third generation Schwing family insurance agency in New Iberia.

Wednesday's straw poll followed a lengthy debate, hosted by the Tea Party of South Louisiana, at New Iberia's Sliman Theatre. Sponsors tallied the total attendance, which included all six candidates, at 258. Of those, 135 participated in the straw poll. Here are the results:

Fred Mills  - 64 votes, 47.4%
Armond Schwing - 28 votes, 20.7%
David Groner - 25 votes, 18.5%
Simone Champagne -13 votes, 9.6%
Ruben LeBlanc - 3 votes, 2.2%
Ken Squires -1 vote, 0.7%
Undecided - 1 vote, 0.7 %

The confidential ballot poll also asked attendees if they had changed who they favored after watching the debate. Of those who answered, Armond Schwing gained the most votes with 7. Fred Mills gained 5 votes, Champagne picked up 4 and Groner gained 2. Also running in the race are crop-duster Ken Squires and oilfield and construction worker Ruben LeBlanc. The special election will be held Jan. 22. A runoff, if necessary, will be held Feb. 19.