A black Democrat jumping in the state’s gubernatorial race could very well be gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne’s saving grace.
High-profile prosecutor Tony Clayton, who serves on the board of supervisors at Southern University, is a black, moderate Democrat who is reportedly thinking about running for the governor’s seat. Clayton would be the second Democrat to jump in the race, alongside Rep. John Bel Edwards (D-Amite).
For Clayton, a run for governor would likely not get him far in the race, but it certainly has the potential to upset Edwards’ chances.
In our most recent gubernatorial poll, Vitter led the pack, as usual, while Edwards trailed behind with 27 percent of the vote. But, when Gen. Russel Honore was placed alongside the gubernatorial candidates in the poll, Edwards’ numbers lowered even more, to 26 percent.
In the poll of the announced gubernatorial candidates and the one which included Honore, Dardenne’s polling number, 14.9 percent, was unchanged.
However, if a black Democrat, like Clayton, gets in the race, that could mean less votes for Edwards and more votes for Dardenne.
For whatever reason, liberals like NOLA.com Columnist Bob Mann have pointed to Dardenne as the ‘acceptable’ and ‘reasonable’ Republican who they feel like they can get some leverage from on issues like Medicard Expansion and higher education funding.
Mann has essentially told all of his liberal followers to forget Edwards and look to one of the other Republicans besides Vitter, which essentially means, vote for Dardenne.
Dardenne, himself, has portrayed himself this way. When he visited Southern University back in April, he stated that he was the reasonable Republican in the race and talked about how he could be persuaded on Medicaid Expansion.
Dardenne also mentioned that he was not-to0-happy with the current state of higher education funding in the state, which Democrats have used to attack Gov. Bobby Jindal with for years.
Being that Edwards is likely to get at least 25 percent of the vote in the gubernatorial race, Clayton’s presence in the ballot box may give Dardenne the right amount of votes to propel his candidacy forward and possibly ahead of Edwards.
More interesting, though, is who would be funding Clayton’s run? Maybe some Democrats who want to see Dardenne, rather than Edwards, in a run-off with Vitter?
And even more so, could Clayton pull off enough votes from the black community that Edwards’ current second place seat is taken from under him by Dardenne?