Editor’s Note: This update on the St. George incorporation effort was published yesterday as exclusive content at The Mighty Hayride, our brand new social media platform. If you haven’t checked it out yet, click here and do so today.
We talked to our contacts within the St. George incorporation movement in Baton Rouge, and heard some interesting information.
Our sources say that signatures are absolutely pouring in.
So fast, in fact, that they’re closing in on the halfway mark to the 13,000 or so they need in order to trigger an election on the incorporation of the prospective new city in Baton Rouge.
There are several major differences between the previous attempt to incorporate the city and the current one. Everybody knows by now that the map is a bit different – St. George cut some areas near LSU, the Gardere neighborhood and the Millerville area, which are places where almost no one signed the petition last time, out of the current area to be incorporated, and by doing so shed some 22,000 citizens and about 15,000 registered voters from the prospective population – and in doing that, they dropped by more than 4,000 signatures the number needed to accomplish their goal without losing hardly anyone who actually signed the petition.
Another big difference is the lack of organized opposition. While last time the St. George crowd ran up against the entrenched Powers That Be in Baton Rouge – most notably the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation – this time those groups have been very silent about the incorporation effort, so much so that we’ve had people close to BRAC and BRAF tell us they’ve made their peace with the idea of St. George’s existence as a city and have decided they can work with it as an asset. The leftists at Together Baton Rouge haven’t dropped their opposition, of course, but TBR is starting to generate a rather foul odor outside of its base of support among hard-core Democrats due to its overreach in attacking ExxonMobil amid the ITEP debate.
And there’s a colossal difference in the mayor’s office. No, Sharon Weston Broome is by no means less opposed to St. George than Kip Holden was – but while Holden had some crossover political stroke among the white community in Baton Rouge Broome has precisely none; she’s burned up the majority of the 25 percent of the white vote she garnered against Bodi White in 2016 and if that race were to be re-run now it might well go the opposite way.
But perhaps the most interesting difference is in tactics. This time, the organizers have taken a different approach to promoting the St. George petition and they’re going straight to likely signers through the mail, digital advertising, phone calls and door to door, and it seems like it’s working. Perhaps that wasn’t possible in the first attempt, as it was necessary then to build awareness of the campaign through the media. But now, everybody in Baton Rouge knows there’s a St. George petition afoot – so it’s less necessary to put out press releases and hold town halls which can afford opponents opportunities to protest and name-call. Instead, this time it’s a much more direct and personal approach, and you’re hearing a lot less fuss.
And from what we gather, it’s definitely working. At the rate they’re going, they might well be done by the end of summer.