The late John Maginnis once noted in The Last Hayride that “there was a time in this state when only two political offices really counted: governor and sheriff. Just about everyone else derived power from them or stayed out of the way.” Accordingly, the sheriff of Jefferson Parish (the second largest parish in Louisiana, according to 2016 Census estimates) has similarly been a larger than life figure. Longtime sheriff Harry Lee (who had the distinction of being the only Chinese-American sheriff in the country) dominated the parish’s politics for decades, and was succeeded by his chief deputy, Newell Normand, in 2007. Sheriff Normand resigned last year and was succeeded by former state representative Joe Lopinto, who was Normand’s right hand man.
Joe Lopinto is now running for the remainder of Normand’s term, and in the March 24 special election primary faces John Fortunato, who for years served as the Public Information Officer for the Sheriff’s office.
JMC was engaged to poll this race (as well as a special election race for Constable), and there are two takeaways from the poll (which can be found here): (1) in the Sheriff’s race, Joe Lopinto has a small (but consistent across most groups) lead, and (2) In the Constable’s race, Allen Leone has a double-digit lead, but the undecided percentage is relatively substantial with two weeks left until Election Day.