Democrat Sharon Weston-Broome has a scant lead over Republican “Mack” Bodi White in the race to be Baton Rouge’s next mayor, according to a new poll released this morning by FuturePAC, the political action committee of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.
But the poll, which was conducted by Impact Management Group, shows 10% of voters are still undecided, “suggesting that the race remains somewhat fluid,” BRAC says in a press release.
Weston-Broome has 30% of support in the poll, followed by White at 29%. The other 10 candidates in the race are not drawing support anywhere near those levels, according to the poll. Democrat C. Denise Marcelle came in third, with 11%, followed by Republican John Delgado, 9%; Republican R.J. “Smokie” Bourgeois, 4%; and independent Darryl Gissel, 3%. All other candidates either have 1% or no support.
Why BRAC says the race is fluid at this point is a bit puzzling. 10 percent undecided with the multitude of candidates running is an exceedingly small number, and when there is an 18-point spread between the top two and everybody else this close to Election Day it’s not really fluid at all.
We’re locked into a Bodi White-Sharon Weston Broome runoff in December, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change.
The interesting questions remaining are basically threefold:
- Can Broome turn out Marcelle’s 11 percent for the runoff, or are those voters too heavily invested in Marcelle’s militant message to be willing to vote for someone more conventional?
- Will the composition of the electorate for the December runoff be such that Broome will be unable to get to 50 percent?
- Can White gobble up the vote currently being held by Bourgeois (most likely), Gissel (quite possible) and Delgado?
Where the latter is concerned, there are people backing Delgado who might need convincing – as while White has a good story to tell in that he’s likely the only thing standing in the way of a successful St. George incorporation effort next fall, there are anti-St. George moderate and conservative voters who blame White for helping to bring bills last year enabling St. George.
Delgado making common cause with White would go a long way toward mending that fence. And Delgado is clearly not going anywhere. His fundraising is down the tubes, his personal issues make him unelectable and he doesn’t have a narrative to sell to make himself viable. At this point he’s a special-interest candidate.
And furthermore, Delgado has spent the last four years as an intensely divisive figure in Baton Rouge politics, calling St. George supporters the “Taliban” and accusing opponents of a far-left pro-homosexual Fairness Ordinance of promoting a “Christian sharia.” He’s going to be out of politics for a time after this election; he’s going to want to leave a legacy of bringing people together rather than dividing people, and the only way available for him to do that would be to back White and work to bring his voters under the latter’s banner.
He could do that after the primary election, of course, but there is less reason to do that then than now. Delgado dropping out and endorsing White would give White a great deal of momentum and broaden his coalition.
He should do it this week. He isn’t going to make the runoff. Now is the time to play a constructive role.