Fundraising, polls show runoff likely in mayor-president race

Lafayette looks to have a real race on its hands this fall as challengers to MP Josh Guillory's reelection are showing early signs of success. Photo by Travis Gauthier

Lafayette looks to have a real race on its hands in this fall’s mayor-president election. Challengers to incumbent Mayor-President Josh Guillory are showing early signs of success.

Guillory is facing two opponents in the Oct. 14 primary, Monique Blanco Boulet and Jan Swift. All three are running as Republicans, and while incumbents usually have a strong advantage in local elections, Guillory’s re-election bid is showing vulnerability.

Boulet has out fundraised Guillory by $52,000 since announcing her campaign to unseat him in February, collecting $272,000 in cash contributions. That puts her atop the election year fundraising competition for the mayor-president’s race, with Swift in a distant third place at $161,000 raised in this year.

But Guillory has a major financial advantage over the field, as he is heading into the election with just shy of $460,000 on hand following years of fundraising as mayor-president. He has carried at least $400,000 in campaign cash since early 2022, and collected $220,000 so far this year while spending $202,000. 

With the primary election just over three weeks away, Boulet has $231,000, including a $51,000 personal loan to her campaign, while Swift has $68,000 remaining ahead of the Oct. 14 vote.

Boulet said in a statement Tuesday that she was “humbled by the support” of her contributors and credit credited “corruption, mismanagement and taxpayer waste” under Guillory’s administration for her campaign’s fundraising success.

Boulet’s fundraising lead appears to come down to three factors. The first is that campaign contributions are limited by election — not by year — meaning many of Guillory’s supporters may have maxed out during his first term. Guillory has collected $1 million from some 750 contributions since taking office in 2020. Those limits would reset if Guillory makes a November runoff election for mayor-president.

The second is that Boulet has seen a larger share of contributions from outside the parish than Swift or Guillory this year. Forty-four percent of Boulet’s fundraising has come from outside Lafayette Parish, compared to 11.5% for Guillory and 2.6% for Swift. Boulet’s largest fund sources outside the parish are New Orleans (6.5%), New Iberia (5.4%) and Baton Rouge (4.2%).

A campaign sign for mayor-president candidate Monique Blanco Boulet at the corner of Johnston Street and East Main Street near Downtown Lafayette.

The final factor is that Guillory appears to be unpopular with likely voters. Polls this year have consistently found around 30% support for the incumbent MP, with high negatives despite major spending by his campaign. That puts him atop the primary election pile but without enough locked-in support to comfortably avoid a November runoff.

Polls can be unreliable, but Guillory’s figures have been generally consistent in multiple surveys since January.

The latest polls in the race back up earlier results. A Shreveport group with a connection to Boulet funded a poll from Sep. 10-12 that found her level with Guillory at 25% in the October primary, with Swift in third at 19% and 31% of respondents undecided.

The same poll gave Guillory 29% in a runoff against either Boulet or Swift, with about a quarter of voters undecided. Both challengers polled near the 50% threshold for runoff victory against Guillory, with Swift at 44% and Boulet at 47%.

Guillory blasted that poll on Facebook Tuesday, calling it biased and pointing to the pollster’s previous work for Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and a connection to Boulet, which he has continued to criticize in the days since.

His campaign shared results from its own poll with KADN News 15 Wednesday showing the incumbent MP with 39% support in the primary, ahead of Boulet at 22% and Swift at 19%, with 20% still undecided. That poll was conducted by Remington Research from Sep. 15-17 and suggests Guillory is still likely to face a November runoff election.

People close to Guillory’s campaign have privately acknowledged that a November runoff is likely unavoidable, but his campaign hasn’t yet released any internal polling on runoff scenarios to refute the Shreveport group’s results.