Courted on Facebook to run, Carlee Alm-LaBar could make a formidable challenger for Robideaux

Photo by Robin May

The gist: A “Lafayette for Carlee” fan page appeared earlier this week, seeking to draft Carlee Alm-LaBar to challenge her old boss.

She could be a formidable opponent for Joel Robideaux. Should Alm-LaBar, an independent, decide to run, and to be clear she has not formally declared, she would be well-positioned to capitalize on Robideaux’s recent political troubles. Robideaux has taken heavy criticism in the last two years for his role in an unpopular scheme to privatize management of LUS, the escalated drama around Drag Queen Story Time and, most recently, the handling of ethical suspicions surrounding one of his aides.

Robideaux’s lack of fundraising to date is an opening for potential candidates like Alm-LaBar. Undoubtedly, Robideaux will be able to raise money, but his delay means there is money up for grabs. While hers was not the first potential candidacy to float in Lafayette’s political ether, it’s the first to materialize in any substantial way. Yes, I’m saying a Facebook fan page is substantial. It’s pulled 220 likes in a couple of days, as of this writing. That’s not nothing.

(Disclosure: Alm-LaBar was an early financial contributor to The Current.)

Alm-LaBar presents a contrast vote on big issues. The renewed divisions on the charter amendments is timely here. As president of the Fix the Charter PAC, Alm-LaBar led the successful effort to create separate city and parish councils, a proposition Robideaux opposed. Revelations of map errors associated with the new city council districts resurfaced the issue. How it plays out from here could build a key plank in Alm-LaBar’s eventual platform.

Don’t forget she worked for Robideaux. She served as his planning director before taking a job in the private sector last year. Whether or not that provides some advantage, it’ll probably be awkward.

What to watch for: When and whether she formally announces. Election qualifying isn’t till October, but the window for making a run is closing. Alm-LaBar told The Advocate she will announce soon, and next week would make a dramatic entrance. On Tuesday there’s a bloodbath agenda at the city-parish council loaded with recent wedge issues — the library’s fund balance, the charter amendments, Marcus Bruno (Councilman Jay Castille is expected to put forth a resolution calling for multiple probes into the controversial aide’s suspect loan). The following Thursday, there’s the Robideaux Report, where the mayor-president will surely make his case for re-election.