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Suit against BC Council may set off hidden bomb

With lawsuits and petitions flying around, it’s not a great time to be one of the Bossier City Council graybeards or their puppy dog – and sitting on potentially a huge bomb waiting to explode over an incident where graybeards’ actions cost the city tens of millions of dollars.

For months, the Council majority bloc of graybeards Republicans David Montgomery and Jeff Free, Democrat Bubba Williams, and no party Jeff Darby, plus their newcomer lapdog Republican Vince Maggio, have fought tooth and nail to prevent having to follow the city charter and schedule a referendum on a three-term lifetime and retroactive limit to elected officials (all but Maggio couldn’t run for reelection if the referendum succeeded). They even directed City Attorney Charles Jacobs to file with the judiciary a plea for the courts to invalidate the duly certified petition of registered voters triggering the Council to call an election on the matter. On multiple occasions all five of them violated the charter by voting against resolutions to do that.

The rearguard action to date only has caused them more trouble. In trying to cut off the head of the term limits movement, spearheaded by an informal group called the Bossier Term Limits Coalition that the city sued (apparently against the wishes of GOP Mayor Tommy Chandler and Republican Councilors Chris Smith and Brian Hammons), the bloc instead saw more heads of it mushroom into existence. The original petition just had a handful of individuals involved, yet now the Coalition reports several times that number active seeking signatures approving of the same language and maintains at least two locations gathering signatures. It’s possible that the group will gather an amount of signatures surpassing the charter-mandated one-third of the number of votes in the previous mayoral election before the court even rules on the validity of the existing petition challenged on the basis of technicalities, where the new petition avoids those ambiguities.


Bad school diploma policy needs quick change

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards converted on an eleventh-hour chance to roll back in one respect education reform in Louisiana, after a long eight years of playing defense.

Coming into office with the support of special interests opposed to the reforms which emphasized choice, accountability, and standards, Edwards made little legislative headway in turning back any of these implemented earlier in the decade. His presence in the Governor’s Mansion, however, did block continued reform such as creating a money-follows-the-student funding distribution which probably could have drawn legislative majorities or, which happened twice, preventing state aid for students with disabilities to attend schools of their choice.

He had help from pliable Republicans House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Senate Pres. Page Cortez, who tried to bottle up such bills, but he had little luck in reversing reform in any meaningful way. Except for now with the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which this week forced the most significant retreat over the past eight years.


Reports show Bossier legislators gaining traction

The last batch of campaign finance reports prior to this week’s election reveal for candidates running in Bossier Parish that existing legislators may be pulling away from their opponents, all in contests that will be settled this weekend.

This last span of raising and spending importantly gives clues as to the direction of a candidacy at a crucial period. Unlike with the governor’s race, where five to two weeks out most voters have made up their minds, other contests remain in flux as these typically have had little or no information delivered not only by media and sources independent of campaigns but also by the campaigns themselves. Ramping up efforts in this period produces the most impact. Further, donations in this period tend to display a front runner effect, where gifts go to candidates who donors believe will win so they can have access to whom they think eventually will win.

By that metric, Republicans state Sen. Robert Mills in District 36 and state Rep. Dodie Horton in District 9 took best advantage of their opportunities. Mills outraised his opponent GOP Bossier Parish School Board member Adam Bass by $50,000 and outspent him by $130,000. Both have about $100,000 left for the stretch run. Mills has leaned more towards using electronic means to entice voters, while Bass has taken a more hands-on approach without much indirect voter contact. A Senate district is of such size that either approach could work, but the latter takes much more campaigning effort.


Turnout likely down due to top job candidates

Perceived lesser quality of gubernatorial candidates except for the front runner explains why voting in Louisiana’s contest for its top job likely will decline markedly this cycle.

The latest statewide figures for registration by party and race are Democrats at 38.7 percent, Republicans at 33.8 percent, and others at 28.5 percent, with whites comprising 62.8 percent, blacks 31.2 percent, and others 6 percent. This contrasts with 2019 figures at the same time of year of 42.4 percent Democrats, 31 percent Republicans, and 27.6 other/no parties, and whites being 63.5 percent, blacks 31.3 percent, and others 5.2 percent. Reflecting the population drain throughout the two terms of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, only 8,000 more voters were registered now than four years ago.

However, early in-person voting was down considerably compared to 2019, after years of increasing proportions. It was off by nearly a fifth, or 66,000. Louisiana has had early no-excuse voting since 2008, and throughout this period analysts have grappled with understanding year-over-year changes in numbers and proportions in terms of whether these would predict eventual turnout and whether any party benefitted. It has been assumed that a learning curve existed for voters which caused largely a substitution effect; i.e., almost all early voters would have voted on election day, but increases from similar election to election were confounded by the learning curve of more voters realizing they could vote and then taking advantage of voting early. But dropping off in early voting, and considerably, unmistakably denotes a lack of enthusiasm compared to the previous similar election, as it seems unlikely that those intending to vote would delay deliberately their vote choice.


Reports suggest some Bossier Police Jury changes

Campaign finance disclosures, or sometime lack of these, give some clues as to whether wholesale changes may come to the Bossier Parish Police Jury's composition staring next year.

While all but one incumbent chose to run for reelection, and a few didn’t draw an opponent, according to reports that detail spending and activity three challengers stand a decent chance of displacing an incumbent starting this week, and at least a couple more have an outside chance of doing so. The reports ten days prior to the general election cover an important period in local campaigns that demonstrate the seriousness of a candidacy and tactics used. For this level of races, the most effective campaigning is door-to-door canvassing, followed by direct mailing, eye-level signage (yard signs better than billboards), canvassing before groups such as at high school football games, display print advertising, and lastly electronic means such as ads and texting.

The reports show some vulnerable incumbents. District 1, with three challengers to Republican Bob Brotherton, has the most candidates but not much active campaigning. Only two have filed reports, with the incumbent not being one of them. That doesn’t mean campaigning isn’t going on – reports are necessary only if there is a donation the exceeds $200 or more than $2,500 spent – but that it is occurring at most at a low level, it at all.