Candyce Perret rode the power of two television ads attacking her opponent Susan Theall in the final two weeks of their runoff campaign to win election to the Third Circuit Court of Appeal seat vacated by now-Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Jimmy Genovese.
Complete but unofficial returns from the Louisiana Secretary of State's website show Perret carried seven of the eight parishes in the district to defeat Theall by a 54-46 margin. Perret received 26,681 votes to Theall's 22,548, a margin of 4,133 votes. A total of 49,229 votes were case in the election, 12 percent of the 406,350 registered voters in the district.
Perret racked up better than 60-40 margins in Acadia, Allen, Evangeline and St. Landry parishes. She carried Iberia Parish by 54-46 and Vermilion Parish 59-41.
Theall carried Lafayette Parish by a 56-44 margin, but that was not enough to offset Perret's margins in the other parishes. A total of 25,161 votes were cast in the race in Lafayette Parish.
Perret attacked Theall with a television ad that began running the week of early voting in which an unidentified woman charged that Theall had ignored evidence of child abuse on the part of her estranged husband during their 2013 divorce case. Theall's name appeared on a document in the ad below a line which read "Stipulation." Theall responded to the ad on her website and social media saying that stipulations in cases represent agreements between the two parties that the judge verifies and ratifies. She said no claims of abuse were ever presented in her court on the matter.
The ad apparently got traction, particularly with voters outside of Lafayette. Turnout in several of the parishes was higher than in the March 25 primary election. For some voters, the ads might have been their first and only impressions of the candidates in the race. Turnout in Allen Parish on Saturday was 7.2 percent compared to 5.3 percent in the primary. Saturday's turnout in Evangeline Parish was 10.7 percent compared to 9.1 percent in the March 25 primary. St. Landry Parish turnout was 8.5 percent on Saturday, up from 7.6 percent in March.
Acadia, Evangeline and Lafayette parishes were the only parishes where turnout was higher than 10 percent.
Because this was a special election called to fill an unexpired term, Perret can likely be sworn in shortly after the votes are all promulgated on Tuesday. There are eight years remaining on the term.
Perret, 46, is a native of Marksville. She is married to Hunter Perret and is a partner in the Perret Group. The Independent has reported that there is an ongoing federal investigation into the business practices of Louisiana Specialty Institute, a company wholly owned by Hunter Perret. Candyce Perret worked as legal counsel for LSI for a time starting in 2013 while her husband was undergoing treatment for cancer.
In an article published in February, seven attorneys confirmed to The Independent that they have been interviewed by federal investigators in connection with the probe. At least one other attorney and a number of health care professionals have also been questioned in connection with the investigation.