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Walford's votes sinking his continued electoral career

Appropriate to my musings earlier this week about 2006 Shreveport mayoral politics, now comes the City Council tie vote which defeated Councilman Thomas Carmody’s motion to take advantage of the new state law allowing municipalities to use a 300-foot direct measurement, rather then the existing measurement by official paths of conveyance, to determine distance of potential licensed alcohol sellers from schools and churches.

It’s a vote that, along with several others, could well shape this election and those for City Council. On these votes, mainly dealing with lifestyle or social issues and the building of a publicly-owned convention center hotel, Carmody and his Republican colleague Mike Gibson have found themselves on the opposite side to Monty Walford, a (white) Democrat. The Republicans generally have voted for measures which would please social and economic conservatives, while Walford typically has done the opposite.

At present, Walford almost is the only white Democrat elected in Caddo Parish for local office, besides Shreveport Mayor Keith Hightower, and as such sentiments have arisen for him to try to repeat Hightower’s fusionist electoral victories – some whites and blacks siphoned from Republican or black candidates, enough to win. Certainly, historical data extrapolated to the present indicates that if a white Democrat makes it out of the mayoral primary he stands an excellent chance of winning the general election.

But Walford’s problem is he may well not make it out of a primary if his opponents are of the caliber of these other city councilmen and the likes of state Rep. Cedric Glover. With his voting behavior of the past two-and-a-half years indicating positions likely to turn off conservatives and having a substantial black candidate out there, too few votes exist to get him into the top two finishers in the primary. His only hope is for a field to be flooded by as many three substantial Republicans – his council colleagues plus state Sen. Max Malone – and at least two substantial black Democrats – Glover plus television station manager Ed Bradley – that actually may fragment black and conservative votes enough to allow him to squeak through.

However, it is likely that some consolidation of support will occur around a Republcian and black candidate, so Walford essentially would have no chance in that scenario and thus ought not to pursue the office. Which means perhaps he should run for re-election to the council – but neither is that a very good deal. His District, B, contained a bare majority of registered whites in 2002 when he eked out narrow wins to get into the general election and then the general election itself against a black Democrat. The latest figures show that has slid to 47.2 percent, 200 fewer whites than blacks, and by 2006 this figure trends to just 46 percent, a full 3.7 percent difference. Adjusting for turnout differential and crossover voting, Walford is projected to find himself on the short end of the stick against a black candidate.

That’s assuming Walford can even make it to the general election. He barely edged out a Republican last time, but then there were slightly more white Democrats than Republicans registered in the district. As of now, white Republicans outnumber white Democrats by 250, and some conservative registered Democrats aren’t going to like Walford’s record to vote for him as opposed to a Republican.

So Walford may feel he has nothing to lose in a run for mayor which could complicate matters for Republicans, but at this time, chances are that for whatever he runs he will lose regardless.

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