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Shreveporters to have many fall choices

By the looks of candidate qualification for Shreveport city elected offices, unless you’re the scion of a political mini-dynasty, people are unhappy with you.

The city’s mayor contest drew 10 candidates and the City Council will have a whopping 22 candidates spread over its seven districts. Perhaps more informatively, six districts have 21 candidates in the running. Only District G’s Democrat Jerry Bowman, serving as his mother once did, escaped any competition.

In fact, two incumbents find themselves part of a rematch. In District A, Democrat Willie Bradford finds himself up against the incumbent he defeated four years ago, Democrat Rose Wilson McCulloch (herself daughter of a former elected official). In District G, Democrat Stephanie Lynch will try to fend off again former member (of some two decades ago) James Green.

Realistically, both incumbents could lose, with the greater probability that Lynch not make it. She has generated controversy, not exactly flattering, over public comments and behavior, becoming embroiled in a defamation lawsuit and garnering attention over a dismal attendance record for the Council.

Bradford drew some approbation for a recent remark saying District B Republican candidate Wendy Vance should not be elected because “We can not keep electing our housewives,” as well as for a social media post implying support for GOP Pres. Donald Trump was racist. But in a district with overwhelmingly black and Democrat registration, that shouldn’t hurt him enough to make him an underdog, even after he initially had said he wouldn’t run again, then reversed his position in less than a month.

District E’s James Flurry drew just one challenger not subject to a political grudge, but to a demographic one. The white Republican’s constituency now contains a bare majority of white voters, as opposed to 56 percent in his election last time in a runoff where he received 55 percent of the vote. He faces Quinton Aught, a black Democrat about to have an associates degree, in October.

Flurry needs help here, even considering Aught’s relatively tender age. In recent Shreveport history, most whites but very few blacks have voted for Republican. Further, whites turn out at disproportionately rates than blacks in runoffs as opposed to general elections. With just a 4 percent gap in registration numbers, applying the past pattern to this contest in a general election winner-take-all situation points to a dead heat, as long as Aught can run a credible campaign.

The other three districts all have departing incumbents, courtesy of term limits. District C seems well set to send another Republican to Government Plaza, as advertising executive Patrick Kirton takes on lawyer John Nickelson with another minor candidate in the race, with perhaps Kirton favored.

Likewise in District D, where a number of Republican qualifiers will square off against a lone Democrat, with demographics favoring whichever GOP candidate emerges in the runoff. And District B likely will see party continuity, although in a different manner.

There, white Democrat Jeff Everson won election twice despite the district having a bare black majority of voters whose proportion only has increased since. This makes community activist Levette Fuller the favorite, although she will have to fend off another community activist and perennial candidate Craig Lee, a black independent backed by Bradford. Joining her in an expected runoff likely will be the only Republican in the race, Vance.

Yet the mayor’s race seems the most wide-open. Democrat incumbent Ollie Tyler will have to fend off at least four major challengers, Republicans Jim Taliaferro and Lee O. Savage, and Democrats Steven Jackson and Adrian Perkins.

Tyler has come under fire for controversies surrounding the police chief she selected Alan Crump while the city’s crime rate remains high and in pursuing pie-in-the-sky economic development ideas. These other candidates have, from mildly to severely, criticized these aspects of her rule.

Ironically, this dissatisfaction may work to her advantage. Caddo Parish Commissioner Jackson and lawyer Perkins, both black, could split that portion of the vote dissatisfied with Tyler. This could allow either white Republican to make a runoff with her, where she would win.

But businessman Savage and Taliaferro, with a background in law enforcement and who likely will draw more Republican support after a spirited run for constable four years ago, could split the GOP vote enough so that Jackson, likelier than Perkins, could consolidate enough support to get into the runoff with Tyler, making for a scenario too close to call. Worse, if Perkins does better than expected and the Republicans split their vote, the black Democrats could ace her out of the runoff.

The only certainty in all of this is Shreveporters apparently want a lot of options to current officeholders.

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