If her supporters do what she asked them to do Wednesday morning, Jan Swift could make the difference in the Nov. 18 election for mayor-president.
Swift, a lawyer who ran third in the primary, threw her support to Monique Blanco Boulet 10 days ahead of the runoff; Boulet faces incumbent Josh Guillory on Nov. 18. In the primary, Guillory got 40% of the vote to Boulet’s 34% and Swift’s 26%. All three are Republicans.
While not explicitly endorsing Boulet, Swift’s public support for her marks a shift in Swift’s previous decision not to make an endorsement. That position, made shortly after the October primary, was puzzling given both Swift and Boulet deployed campaign platforms that attacked incumbent Guillory for alleged corruption.
Greeted by a lengthy standing ovation from an audience at Warehouse 535 that included some of her key supporters, Swift went hard on voter turnout, likely the deciding factor in what’s expected to be a low-energy ballot, and revisited the central themes of her campaign.
“Our voices are heard when we vote. But they are heard just as strongly when we don’t,” said Swift, whose platform sought to expose alleged corruption and misuse of taxpayer dollars in the Guillory administration. “Staying home and not voting is just as much an endorsement of the past four years of mismanagement as it is to show up and vote for the incumbent.”
Swift initially indicated she would forgo an endorsement but said at Wednesday’s press conference that she “cannot remain on the sidelines in this all-important, change election.”
Staying home and not voting is just as much an endorsement of the past four years of mismanagement as it is to show up and vote for the incumbent.Jan Swift
“I do not believe that Lafayette can endure another four years of poor leadership under the current administration,” the former candidate said.
She spoke openly about being bothered by private conversations with people who aren’t planning to go to the polls.
“We had a very low voter turnout in the primary election. Over two-thirds of registered voters didn’t show up to vote,” she said. “I believe it is because so many people feel disconnected and don’t believe they make a difference. My fear is that even fewer may show up on Nov. 18.
“I am standing here to encourage my supporters to get out and vote,” Swift said.
For his part, Guillory is armed with endorsements from the sheriff, local mayors and supportive messaging from U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, who backed the incumbent as a proven conservative. Guillory needs to capture 40% of Swift’s voters to defeat Boulet.
Majorities were scarce in the primary. Guillory, who is under multiple investigations (all of which he denied knowledge of under oath), finished first in 88 precincts, but he won majorities in only 22 of those, meaning votes for Boulet and Swift combined to outnumber him in the other 112 precincts. Guillory ran strongest in the Youngsville area, but was unable to secure majority support in the vast majority of precincts in Lafayette and the rest of the parish.
Polling ahead of the primary showed Guillory’s vulnerability in a runoff against either of his challengers.
I do feel like the momentum is really shifting.Monique Blanco Boulet
The city outvoted the rest of the parish in the primary, giving Boulet a slim 37% to 36% margin over Guillory. Swift carried 24% of the city. (See a map of precinct results here.)
“I hope you will join me in voting for Monique, and let’s move forward in accomplishing what my campaign was all about,” Swift said. “It’s about restoring the notion of public service to elected office.”
“I do feel like the momentum is really shifting,” Boulet said after Swift’s remarks. “I don’t think any of us want to wake up [Nov. 19] with a terrible [feeling of] dread.”