32 parishes held elections yesterday, and there were no real surprises last night. Our focus will be on the tax renewals on the East Baton Rouge Parish ballot, as well as two special elections for state representative that were held in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
EBR supports its firemen and policemen
There were two major property tax renewals on the ballot yesterday in East Baton Rouge, and both passed overwhelmingly. The renewal of a tax benefitting the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s department received 84% of the vote, while the renewal of a tax benefitting the firemen passed with 89% of the vote. While it would appear that the voting public (or at least the 11% who went to the polls) supports the firemen more, the reality is that the tax renewal for the Sheriff was voted on by the entire parish (including more conservative suburbanites in Central, Zachary, and areas southeast of town), while the firefighter tax renewal was only voted on by those living in the Baton Rouge city limits. Curiously, the weakest relative support for the tax renewals came from the 5% who early voted, but we believe this is because in low turnout elections like this, the most conservative voters are more likely to early vote.
State House Runoffs – District 63 in Baton Rouge
The death of Avon Honey back in February required a May 1 special election in House District 63 (which encompasses the Scotlandville and Baker portions of East Baton Rouge Parish). Five candidates (four Democrats and an Independent) ran in this 84% black district that saw 13% voter turnout last night. Former Sheriff’s deputy Dalton Honore led the field with 39% of the vote, with a big assist from the 45% he received in the Scotlandville precincts that cast 38% of the district’s vote. Facing Honore in the runoff is Metro Council member “Bones” Addison, who finished second with 30% of the vote, with stronger percentages coming out of Scotlandville (where he finished second with 35%) and Glen Oaks (where he finished first with 39%). The key to victory in the May 29 runoff is getting the lion’s share of the 25% of the vote that went to retired Baton Rouge police officer Mark Milligan. He ran particularly well in the Baker precincts (which he carried with 39%) and the Zachary precinct (where he received 61% of the vote).
State House Runoffs – District 93 in New Orleans
In New Orleans, Karen Carter Peterson’s recent election to the state Senate created a vacancy in House District 93, which includes a mixture of upper and lower income neighborhoods in and around downtown New Orleans (including the French Quarter). Six Democrats competed in this race in this 51% black district (significantly down from 57% when the district lines were last drawn a decade ago) that saw 9% voter turnout (13% in predominately white precincts; 6% in predominately black precincts). Community activist James Perry finished first with 38%, while former newscaster Helena Moreno finished second with 27% of the vote. A detailed analysis of the results points to a likely Perry victory in the runoff. Though the 51% black voter registration number is probably overstated in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (in the 2008 Congressional election where “Joseph” Cao upset William Jefferson, 34% of the voters were black, and even the 2008 Presidential race only brought the black percent of the voting electorate to 50% at a time when the black registration was a somewhat higher 54%), we believe that James Perry has the upper hand in the runoff. An examination of the precincts shows that in predominately white precincts (i.e., less than 20% black), Moreno only led James Perry 38-35%. Meanwhile, in the precincts that are more than 80% black, Perry received 35% of the vote while Moreno received 10%. This means that in the runoff, Perry’s respectable showing in the white community is something Moreno does not similarly have in the black precincts. Additionally, 47% of the vote cast in the black precincts went to former legislator Louis Charbonnet III (who, curiously, was the only black legislator to endorse Dave Treen during his landslide loss in 1983 against Edwin Edwards). We believe that Perry has a better chance at getting these votes than Helena Moreno, as she ran poorly in these areas in 2008 against former Congressman William Jefferson, who at that time was under investigation. Plus, the New Orleans paper noted that “Perry….recently earned Peterson’s endorsement because of his ability to build coalitions in a diverse district….”