…at least where the primary stage of the race is concerned.
The Baton Rouge mayoral primary is shaping up to be a three-person race, with Democratic incumbent Sharon Weston Broome far out in front and Republican challengers Steve Carter and Matt Watson neck-in-neck for the No. 2 spot in the December runoff.
At least, that’s according to results of a poll conducted Sept. 29-30 by JMC Analytics for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.
BRAC released the poll results today as part of a broader announcement about a televised forum it is holding Oct. 13 with WVLA-TV. Only candidates polling at 5% or greater have been invited to participate.
That threshold limits the candidates in the forum to the top four finishers in the poll: Broome (41%), Carter (14%), Watson (13%), and C. Denise Marcelle (6%).
But the fifth-place finisher in the poll—political newcomer and Republican businessman Jordan Piazza—is crying foul. He polled at 4% in the poll and says it’s not fair he is being excluded from the televised event.
“I tried to appeal to BRAC and WVLA and they’re pointing fingers, each blaming the other for the cutoff,” Piazza says. “I am going to keep drawing attention to this because the people deserve to know how messed up this is. This is BRAC and WVLA-TV telling Baton Rouge there are only four candidates to choose from.”
That was from Monday. We’re just getting around to it today, because this is already The Week From Hell and it’s probably going to get worse what with a hurricane currently headed straight for Baton Rouge. Sorry about that.
There isn’t anything particularly definitive in that poll, as it’s still four weeks before the election. But what we can say pretty definitively, unless this survey is as off-the-wall as these presidential polls which are clearly done in an effort to influence, rather than inform, the electorate, is that it’s going to be Sharon Broome in the runoff from the Democrat side. Denise Marcelle has, if this poll is correct, lost ground among black voters in Baton Rouge over the past four years.
In the 2016 primary she managed 13 percent to Broome’s 32. Now it’s 41-6. That’s somewhat perplexing given the job Broome has done, but if the poll is even remotely correct there is no danger of Marcelle stealing black voters away from the incumbent. She might have Gordon McKernan’s vote, as the ambulance-chasing TV lawyer is the one bankrolling her campaign, but it doesn’t look like she has much else.
Which means you’re really looking for a Republican to face off with Broome in the runoff. The vast majority of that 20 percent or so undecided are Republican voters who haven’t picked a candidate yet and are going to choose either Watson or Carter.
Piazza’s camp is saying don’t count him out, as he’s sitting on some $80,000 or so and expects to unload that money onto the local airwaves in the final two weeks of the campaign. The problem is he’s got less name ID a month out than either Carter or Watson and one wonders whether it’s possible for him to make up any ground on either.
Especially when Carter has more money. He’s sitting on $200,000, which is a lot more than Watson’s $15,000. If anybody is going to come with an ad blitz in the final days of the primary it’s going to be Carter. Broome, as the incumbent, was always going to have more money than anybody else. She has $350,000 on hand.
The question then becomes whether that ad blitz convinces Republican voters he’s the guy who can beat Broome, and whether Carter can then close the sale on the necessity of getting rid of a mayor it’s hard to argue doesn’t need to be replaced.
So far, though, none of the challengers are in a strong position to pull off an upset. It’s a good thing the race hasn’t really taken shape.