The conventional wisdom with respect to this fall’s Mayor-President race in East Baton Rouge Parish has been that with the racial makeup of the parish being nearly 50-50 black to white and with a recent history of more white voters willing to vote for a black candidate than vice versa, the favorite in the race would be Sharon Weston Broome, the affable black Democrat state senator from North Baton Rouge.
Broome doesn’t quite have the appeal to the business community that Kip Holden, who established the current paradigm, cultivated in the years before first getting elected in 2004, but the parish’s demographics are friendlier to a black Democrat than they were before.
And because of those demographics, it’s likely Broome will still be the frontrunner. But that expectation has not so far been backed by fundraising. The expected runoff matchup between Broome and fellow state senator Bodi White looks like it could be a mismatch in terms of the war chests of the candidates.
Here are the standings in terms of cash on hand as of the first of the month…
Bodi White: $371,877
Sharon Weston Broome: $76,581
Darryl Gissel: $65,251
John Delgado: $48,920
Denise Marcelle: $6,304
Smokie Bourgeois: $1,230
Greg LaFleur: $43
Those standings don’t count an additional $105,000 sitting in a PAC – Citizens For A Better Baton Rouge – which will be supporting White.
So he’s already perched atop nearly a half-million dollars in campaign resources.
Gissel, an independent real estate agent and developer who formerly identified as Republican, has put more of his own money into the race than any other candidate. Whether he’s able to translate that into actual votes will be a question; his base of support seems to be in Spanish Town, a fairly small neighborhood with – at best – an eclectic mix of ideological persuasions.
White also received the endorsement of the Republican Party of East Baton Rouge this week. That endorsement, in recent years, carries with it only a tangential relationship to electoral success, but it does indicate that if the runoff participants will include one Republican and one Democrat as most seem to believe, it will be White on the Republican side.