City Marshal

Category: Election 2020, News + Notes

It ain’t over: Lafayette races turn to runoffs for district court and city marshal

The gist: High drama in the presidential election drove a big turnout and a hangover for anxious voters. Runoffs for two district judgeships and city marshal will likely compete with much lower participation on Dec. 5, if history is any indicator. 

4 min read

Here are the big remaining races. I’ve included the primary vote share for each candidate. 

  • City Marshal — Kip Judice (R) 44% vs. Reggie Thomas (NP) 26%
  • District Court Div. B — Travis Broussard (D) 28% vs. Valerie Gotch Garrett (D) 49%
  • District Court Div. D — Royale Colbert (D) 44% vs.  Amanda Martin (D) 41% 

71%. That’s the turnout for presidential election among Lafayette Parish voters. Enthusiasm for the Biden/Trump race edged the 2016 turnout by almost 9,000 votes. Turnout for down-ballot races trailed the headlining contest, which is typical of most presidential cycle elections. 

Runoffs generally turn in much lower turnout. Though they vary by office. The 2016 Trump/Clinton contest drew 68.7% participation. U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins won his first term that year in a runoff that drew only 28% participation across the 3rd Congressional District and 29% in Lafayette Parish. John Kennedy’s Senate run fared about the same. 

That’s not quite apples to apples. The last city marshal’s race was in 2014 — it’s a six-year term. Brian Pope, who was removed from office after a felony conviction this month, beat Kip Judice in a runoff that year that attracted 43% of city voters, a relatively minor decline from the 50% voting in the 2014 primary — notably absent a presidential contest. Judice, Republican, now faces Reggie Thomas, no party, in an open seat runoff after a comparatively live primary race that posted 66.7% participation. 

District court races didn’t see much of a boost from the Trump vs. Biden contest. Around 52% of voters cast ballots in both the Div. D and Div. K races still up for grabs. In 2014, a race for Div. E, won by Judge Michele Breaux, pulled in 52% participation, declining to 43% for the runoff. 

The X-factor is money. Ad buys and earned media attention would tend to boost interest in the remaining races. In the marshal’s race, Judice raised over $186,000 since kicking off his campaign at the beginning of 2020. He’s spent all but a few thousand dollars, though he boasts a big list of contributors, the institutional support of the Republican Party and a healthy lead. Thomas, running no party, pulled about $29,000 since jumping in mid-summer, adding another $10,000 with a personal loan. In his final filing, issued 10 days before the primary, he reported around $18,000 heading into the runoff. 

It’s a mixed bag of Democrats in the judicial races. In Div. B, Travis Broussard goes into the runoff with $10,400 left of roughly $50,000 raised, edging out opponent Valerie Gotch Garrett’s remaining $4,000 pot of her nearly $70,000 war-chest, which included $33,400 in loans. 

In Div. D, Royale Colbert sits on just under $22,000, according to the latest filings, after far outraising Amanda Martin through the campaign. He raised over $50,000 and loaned his effort another $50,000. Martin reported a little over $6,000 on hand 10 days out from the primary but raised around $20,000 total throughout the campaign, loaning her campaign $16,150. 

What to watch for: Ground game will be everything. In local races, money doesn’t necessarily mean votes, but it can’t hurt. It’s a truism in politics of all levels that what matters is who turns out the vote. Without a big ticket race to energize Republicans and Democrats in December, it’s going to come down to how well the candidates can get out the vote.

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