GUILLORY ELECTION AFTERMATH
Opelousas state Rep. Elbert Guillory trounced Patricia Cravins, wife of Opelousas Mayor Don Cravins, in the runoff for the Senate seat to replace her son Don Cravins Jr., who now works as a staffer for U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu. After the strong showing by Guillory in St. Landry Parish during the primary, Cravins’ fate seemed to be sealed. Without question, the Cravins political dynasty, which has spanned nearly two decades, is waning. The election results clearly expressed that. But beyond the surface, who were the winners and losers from this seismic power shift in the black community?
Clearly the biggest winner besides Guillory is State Rep. Rickey Hardy. Hardy was out early, and then often supporting Guillory in north Lafayette. He was unwavering in his support for Guillory from day one. His lone support for Guillory from the Lafayette black political establishment clearly positions him as a political operative worth watching. The biggest winner in St. Landry is Sheriff Bobby Guidroz, who was able to pay back the favor to the Cravins family for their opposition to him in the past two sheriff’s races (when they supported Laura Balthazar).
He certainly twisted the dagger in the political heart of the Cravins family with this election and may have rooted out any potential threat to his re-election with such a strong political showing in St. Landry by his candidate Guillory. Clearly, these election results send a simple message to Mayor Cravins and any other detractors of the sheriff, which could best be articulated by the late musician Jim Croce: “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape.”
In the losing category, aside from the Cravins family, perhaps the biggest loser was Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Brandon Shelvin. The young Shelvin, who has legislative ambitions, seemed to be fearful of the legacy of the Cravins machine and failed to engage himself in the election on anyone’s behalf (unlike Hardy), despite much urging from Guillory backers. Clearly a case of “you snooze, you lose.” Another black political icon whose stature was diminished is KJCB’s Je’Nell Chargois, who like Shelvin sat on the sidelines out of apparent fear of the Cravins camp. The new Guillory/Hardy tandem could redefine the political pecking order in St. Landry/Lafayette black politics for some time to come. Given its alliance with Sheriff Guidroz, as well as many white north Lafayette businessmen who supported Guillory (Herb Schilling, etc.), this multi-racial coalition could prove to be a formidable multi-parish force for years to come.
LANDRIEU NARROWING THE FIELDS
According to sources in both Baton Rouge and Washington (and just as I predicted) Sen. Mary Landrieu will not nominate state Rep. Rick Gallot of Ruston to the position of U.S. attorney for the Western District. The courthouse buzz is now centered around Stephanie Finley, a young African-American who works as an assistant to current U.S. Attorney Donald Washington (who is not being retained). Also back in the game is state Sen. Eric Lafleur of Ville Platte, himself a former state prosecutor.
Sources also indicate that Landrieu is narrowing her focus on the federal judgeship to replace Tucker Melancon. The field now appears to have shrunk to 15th JDC Judge Jules Edwards (Lafayette), 16th JDC Judge Lori Landry (New Iberia and St. Martinville), 27th JDC Judge Alonzo Harris (Opelousas), Third Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Gene Thibodeaux (Lake Charles), and as of late, Louisiana State Bar Association President Beth Foote of Alexandria. It appears that Landrieu is not considering any other candidates. Foote is the only white candidate of the names mentioned. A recent development, according to insiders familiar with the federal court, is that the judges of the district will vote on whether to relocate that seat from Lafayette to Lake Charles (though the ultimate decision rests with the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals), which currently has only one seat. Chief Judge Dickie Haik is being evasive, only confirming that a “discussion” will take place (though he won’t say when), noting there are ongoing “discussions about how to better the [case] distribution as a whole.”
My sources are betting on the move: goodbye La Fonda, hello L’Auberge du Lac.
It’s too soon to tell whether such a relocation would disrupt the current pool of potential applicants.