Lt. Gov. Race: The Endorsement Issue

With only a couple of days left before Saturday’s election, the two candidates for the Lt. Governor position are trading press releases touting their endorsements.

Yesterday, Billy Nungesser had an announcement touting the endorsements from several mayors and other public officials from the state’s coastal areas…

Mayors from several communities throughout Acadiana and the Louisiana Gulf Coast came together at Cafe Des Amis this morning to endorse Billy Nungesser for Lt. Governor.

The officials endorsing Nungesser this morning include:
Wayne Breaux – Mayor of Baldwin
Jackdale Delhomme – Mayor of Breaux Bridge
Sherbin Collette – Mayor of Henderson
Al Broussard – Mayor of Loreauville
Billy D-Aquilla – Mayor of St. Francisville
Euris Dubois – Grand isle Police Chief
David Carmadelle – Mayor of Grand Isle
George Dupuis – Mayor of Erath
Wayne Theriot – Mayor of Maurice
Mark Piazza – Mayor of Abbeville
Carrol Broussard – Mayor of Delcambre
Kathy Richard – Mayor of Arnaudville
Glenn Broussard – Mayor of Carencro
Thomas Nelson – Mayor of St. Martinville
Hilda Curry – Mayor of New Iberia

Nungesser also picked up an endorsement from Louisiana Sportsman Magazine today.

But things didn’t go off without a hitch. The gathering at Cafe Des Amis in Breaux Bridge wasn’t billed to all of the attendees as an endorsement event, and as such a few of them notified the media to say they hadn’t endorsed anybody. As the Lafayette Independent reports

Carencro Mayor Glenn Brasseaux says he was invited by David Camardelle, mayor of Grand Isle, to hear what Nungesser had to say. “We went to the meeting. There was nothing about endorsements,” says Brasseaux. “I don’t endorse anybody.”

New Iberia Mayor Hilda Curry says much the same. “I did not endorse Billy Nungesser. I attended by request of another mayor a function at Café des Amis,” Curry says, noting that she, too, does not make endorsements. “He should know better,” Curry says when informed that the Nungesser campaign had issued a press release touting the endorsements.

Making matters worse, Brasseaux and Curry are president and vice president, respectively, of the Louisiana Municipal Association; the organization’s bylaws prohibit its officers from making endorsements.

The third to call was Jack Dale Delhomme, mayor of Breaux Bridge. “Nobody ever mentioned [an endorsement] at the meeting,” Delhomme says. Early Wednesday afternoon we also got a call from St. Francisville Mayor Billy D’Aquilla, who says he has not endorsed Nungesser.

This gave off a fairly strong impression that Nungesser was suckering the local officials into endorsements. But Nungesser aide Kent Gates forwarded a statement by Camardelle which asserted the whole thing was a misunderstanding…

I organized this morning’s breakfast with Billy Nungesser. Some of the mayors were simply there to meet Billy. These elected officials were not identified to the campaign. It was a simple misunderstanding.

That gave the Dardenne campaign an opening to tout its own endorsements, which it gleefully did this afternoon…

Mayors hailing from every corner of Louisiana endorsed Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne today in his bid for re-election for the state’s second highest position.

This bipartisan group represents Louisiana’s diverse cultural, political and racial background. Their endorsement of Jay Dardenne is a reflection of the work he has done in their individual communities and their confidence in his leadership of the tourism industry of Louisiana.

The following 23 mayors are publicly supporting Dardenne:

  • Mayor Barney Arceneaux, Gonzales.
  • Mayor Clarence Beebe, Hornbeck.
  • Mayor Mike Cooper, Covington.
  • Mayor Billy D’Aquila, St. Francisville.
  • Mayor Jimmy Durbin, Denham Springs.
  • Mayor Clarence Fields, Pineville.
  • Mayor Mayson Foster, Hammond.
  • Mayor Cedric Glover, Shreveport.
  • Mayor Lawrence Henagan, DeQuincy.
  • Mayor Jackie Johnson, Winnsboro.
  • Mayor Burke Jones, Greensburg.
  • Mayor Jamie Mayo, Monroe.
  • Mayor Wayne McCullen, Natchitoches.
  • Mayor Glen McGlothin, Ferriday.
  • Mayor Robert Myer, New Roads.
  • Mayor Tommy O’Con, Robeline.
  • Mayor Betty Olive, Bastrop.
  • Mayor Ron Roberts, DeRidder.
  • Mayor Bill Robertson, Minden.
  • Mayor Robert Rose, Leesville.
  • Mayor Jacques Roy, Alexandria.
  • Mayor Mac Watts, Central.
  • Mayor Robert Zabbia, Ponchatoula.

“I am humbled by the outpouring of support from some of our state’s finest mayors as I seek a full term as lieutenant governor,” Dardenne said. “I have enjoyed working with each and every one of them as I traveled the state, collaborating with businesses and communities to tell Louisiana’s story to the rest of the nation and the world. I am grateful for their faith in me to continue to lead our state in the right direction.”

Dardenne has received support from all seven publications that have issued endorsements for the 2011 election cycle, including: The Shreveport Times, The Monroe News-Star, The Times-Picayune, The Gambit, The Baton Rouge Business Report, The Daily Comet and The Houma Courier. He also earned the endorsement from the Alliance for Good Government, the National Rifle Association, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s FuturePAC and several other industry and political groups.

Of course, Nungesser had more arrows in the quiver, launching a fresh attack this morning on Dardenne’s voting record in the Senate by noting that in a radio appearance this morning the incumbent “finally admits he voted to raise taxes.”

After months of trying to claim he is a fiscal conservative, Jay Dardenne publicly admitted this morning that he did vote to raise taxes as a member of the Louisiana Legislature.  The admission came during a live appearance this morning on the Denny Schaffer show on WRNO in New Orleans.  A caller asked Dardenne if he had voted to raise taxes.  Dardenne tried to be evasive, but the caller and Schaffer persisted, asking him to answer the question.  Dardenne finally responded, “I have voted to raise taxes.  I was in the legislature 15 years and the Stelly Plan raised income taxes.”

“It has taken several months for Dardenne to finally come clean, but the truth is finally out.  Jay Dardenne is not a fiscal conservative.  He has raised taxes, including serving as the floor leader for the Stelly bill,” said Billy Nungesser, Dardenne’s opponent in Saturday’s election. “His record doesn’t lie and he is finally telling the truth about who he is and where he stands.  He voted to raise taxes, words out of his own mouth.  He also voted not to protect the unborn and to make it easier for illegals to work in this state.  In these uncertain times, we need someone who is a proven fighter for our hardworking people and their tax dollars.”

To hear the interview click here.  The tax question can be heard at the 11:07 mark.

Nungesser is planning a barnstorming tour of the state on Friday, with Sen. David Vitter and country singer/two-time Lt. Governor candidate Sammy Kershaw in tow. The schedule is as follows (you’ll know they’re in your area if you see a giant elephant with Nungesser signs on it)…

8:00am – Shreveport
Corner of Bert Kouns and Youree Dr. (look for the giant elephant with Nungesser signs on it)

9:30 – Monroe
Milhaven Rd in front of Target/Home Depot/Best Buy (look for the statue of Drew Brees)

11:00 – Alexandria
Corner of MacArthur Dr. and Jackson St. (look for the giant elephant with Nungesser signs on it)

12:30 – Lake Charles
Nelson Road across from WalMart and Chik-Fil-A

2:30 – Lafayette
Corner of Kaliste Saloom and Pinhook (look for the giant elephant with Nungesser signs on it)

4:30 – Baton Rouge
Corner of Corporate Blvd and Jefferson (look for the statue of Drew Brees)

6:30 – New Orleans
Corner of Veterans Blvd and Causeway in Metairie (the neutral ground in front of the Macy’s parking garage)

Dardenne, meanwhile, has a significant event of his own planned for tomorrow…

Several prominent members of the Acadiana delegation of the Louisiana Legislature will announce Thursday their endorsement of Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne in his bid for re-election for the state’s second highest post.

A press conference will be held at 3 p.m., Thursday, October 20, 2011, at the Lafayette Conventions and Visitors Center, 1400 NW Evangeline Thruway, Lafayette. The event will feature Lieutenant Governor Dardenne and the local elected officials endorsing him.

One item of information can be gleaned from these developments; namely, that both sides seem to see the Acadiana area as a key battleground which could affect the outcome of the race. Nungesser is expected to outpace Dardenne in the New Orleans area, while Dardenne seems to have an advantage in Baton Rouge and in the northern part of the state. Thus it’s no surprise that Nungesser was in Breaux Bridge for a high-profile event yesterday and had his truck with the elephant in the trailer riding around Lafayette, including a stop at the Petroleum Club to glad-hand the hoi-polloi, and Dardenne is specifically courting Acadiana-area leges, presumably so that he can hook up with their get-out-the-vote operations and leverage their support on Saturday.

That’s not to say the state’s other areas aren’t battlegrounds. But Acadiana might well be the field upon which the issue is decided.

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