From the phone lines came another hint that Bossier City actually might have some meaningful, widespread competition for its city government in next spring’s election.
Last week, Baton Rouge firm JMC Analytics conducted an automated telephone survey largely about this election. After a perfunctory question about the 2020 presidential contest, it asked questions about the mayor’s race, at-large city council races, and council district races specific to the district in which the call was received.
For the mayor’s contest, it asked abut voting for 2001 council candidate Tommy Chandler, current councilors Jeff Free and David Montgomery, city chief administrative officer Pam Glorioso, and incumbent Mayor Lo Walker. In addition, it asked whether the respondent would vote to reelect Walker.
Chandler floated a run against Walker in 2017, but demurred. Neither councilor has indicated whether he would run for reelection or anything else. As Walker already has announced his intention at age 87 to run for reelection, it seems unlikely that Glorioso would step down and oppose him.
The question about at-large competitors mentioned incumbents Montgomery and Tim Larkin as well as announced challenger Chris Smith. Larkin hasn’t revealed his future election plans. And for District 1, respondents had a choice between incumbent Scott Irwin and District 11 school board member Shane Cheatham.
Probably many of the names are guesses, with just Walker and Smith having made things official. As such, it’s likely that one of them commissioned this, although no incumbent nor Smith have filed any campaign finance form that would list this expenditure.
Most likely, Walker and/or his political allies inside and/or outside of city government paid for this. It may be that one or all wishes to gauge voter sentiment for his try at an unprecedented fifth term, and if support seems lukewarm then run Glorioso in his place, replicating 2005 when Walker as CAO ran to replace George Dement who had served four terms.
Still, names don’t appear in a vacuum when you’re throwing down good money for something like this. At least some folks must think it a real possibility that Chandler would follow through this time, or that Free or Montgomery would seek a promotion in order for their names to appear.
At the very least, the very fact a poll like this has gone out five months before qualifying demonstrates some heightened expectation of competition. New Central Asian “democracies” have had greater competition in their national elections than has Bossier City in regular elections since 2001. Of the minimum 32 spots up for grabs from 2005 on, just 41 candidacies have contested these. Of eight slots available for each cycle, no fewer than six each time have gone unopposed, with only District 5 seeing any significant turnover – Walker, Larkin, Montgomery, Irwin, Jeff Darby and Bubba Williams have all served since 2005, with Free joining in 2013. Of them, Irwin has been the punching bag as the only one to face opposition in the past two cycles.
Perhaps the information will become public, but even if not, the Bossier City public can hope it’s a sign it’ll have more choices in 2021.