BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome will fend off seven challengers during the Nov. 3 runoff, including a handful of well-known local politicians and business owners.
Broome, Councilwoman Tara Wicker, and Rep. Denise Marcelle are running as Democrats. Uncle Earl’s bar owner, Jordan Piazza, former Rep. Steve Carter, Councilman Matt Watson, and newcomer, Frank Smith III, are running as Republicans. Attorney Eric Guirard has thrown his hat in the ring as an Independent.
“The mayor, with the power of the incumbency and being the most prominent Democrat, is the overwhelming favorite in this race,” WAFB political analyst, Jim Engster said, noting that Democrats have carried Baton Rouge in each major election for nearly a decade.
Broome has more money to spend than her opponents combined, critically important since the coronavirus has changed how politicians reach their bases.
“You can’t really canvass like you’ve been able to in the past, you can’t leave door hangers on people’s doors because people don’t want to touch something someone else has touched,” media consultant and political analyst, Clay Young, said. “You’re limited in engagement with the public. If you’ve got money, you can use media to get to your voters and do it repetitively.”
Wicker has roughly $80,000 to spend, second in fundraising, bolstered by donations from prominent Republicans, Eddie Rispone and Lane Grigsby.
“They obviously know the math and that Republicans have not won a mayor’s election in this city in 20 years,” Engster said of Grigsby and Rispone. “They think a Democrat would have a better chance of unseating Sharon Weston Broome.”
Engster and Young each say, with few exceptions, the issues that will dominate the presidential election are not likely to bleed into the mayor’s race. The local economy, traffic, and crime remain top concerns for Baton Rouge residents.
“Most of the issues here deal with growth and where we’re headed,” Young said.
Engster predicts one of Broome’s seven challengers will push her to a December runoff, where turnout is likely to be more critical to success.
Louisiana voters still don’t know what the November and December elections will look like. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin will present his emergency election plan to the legislature the week of Aug. 17.
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