By Joe Darby
Well, for us folks in Natchitoches, we are facing runoffs for the top executive position in the state as well as in our parish.
Gov. John Bel Edwards will have to contend with Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone and we have a real close contest for Natchitoches Parish president. John Richmond and Lee Waskom were just about tied, with Richmond holding a narrow lead of 36.5 to Waskom’s 33.2 percent. Four other also rans divided a total of 30.3 percent among them and the two leaders will be out and about seeking those votes for next month’s runoff.
There were also two impressive victories affecting Natchitoches Parish voters, that of Louie Bernard’s overwhelming triumph for the seat in state Senate District 31, and Stuart Wright’s first primary win for parish sheriff.
Louie, as almost all of us know him, won 55.3 percent of the votes, although Natchitoches has to share the district with other parishes. I’d say Louie performed about as well as LSU did against Florida, also on election night.
Wright beat two respected opponents to win the sheriff’s race, capturing 51.9 percent of the vote. Steve Pezant came in second with 32.4 percent and Steve Rachal garnered 15.7 percent. Incumbent Sheriff Victor Jones’ endorsement of Wright no doubt played a big role in the victory.
All of the statewide incumbents, except for governor and secretary of state, won first primary victories. I think the most impressive was that of Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser. I know Billy personally and I think he is doing a great job of trying to attract tourists to Louisiana. Billy can be found all over the state, at local festivals, historic sites and other events to promote good old La Louisianne.
Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin will be in a runoff with Gwen Collins-Greenwood. The incumbent had 41 percent of the vote and the challenger 33.2 percent. However, the two also rans, totaling 25.2 percent, are both Republicans, as is Ardoin. So Collins-Greenwood may have her work cut out for her in the runoff.
Getting back to the governor’s race, “expert political prognosticators” were saying before the election that Edwards would need at least 45 percent of the primary vote to have a shot in the runoff, the thinking being that if an incumbent got less than that amount, his base would not be strong enough to carry him to victory. Edwards did better than 45 percent, but just barely, with 46.6 percent.
Let’s take a closer look at how the candidates did through the state, examining our most populated parishes. But first, the numbers for Natchitoches Parish: They almost mirrored the statewide vote exactly. Here, the vote was Edwards, 46.5; Rispone, 29.7 and U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, 21 percent. Statewide the results were 46.6, 27.4 and 23.6, respectively.
Now, how did they do elsewhere? The percentages will be given for each parish, listing Edwards first, Rispone second and Abraham third.
Caddo, 53.2 — 24.3 — 20.1.
Calcasieu, 43.6 — 28.5 — 25.6.
East Baton Rouge, 61.8 — 26.7 — 13.6.
Jefferson, 52.9 — 28.6 — 15.8.
Lafayette, 36.8 — 24.6 — 37.0
Orleans, 87.0 — 6.1 — 4.6.
Ouachita, 37.8 — 11.8 — 49.6.
Rapides, 37.8 — 19.5 — 41.1.
I also wondered how the races came out in Cajun Country, so I took a look at two parishes in that area.
Lafourche, 35.3 — 38.9 — 22.8.
Iberia, 35.4 — 30.8 — 31.2.
It’s interesting to note Edwards’ overwhelming victory in New Orleans, no surprise there, and his very strong win in Baton Rouge. Also Abraham took Monroe (Ouachita) and Alexandria (Rapides). Rispone was first in Lafayette, which is a little bit of a surprise to me.
So, there you have it. The tables have been set for the two big runoffs. Let the politicking begin (again).