Zurik: Two local politicians battle for spot in Lt. Gov. runoff

Published: Sep. 25, 2015 at 6:19 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2015 at 4:01 AM CDT
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Kip Holden
Kip Holden
Elbert Guillory
Elbert Guillory

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - For two well-known southeast Louisiana politicians, it's a fight for one spot in the runoff.

"Down here in southeast Louisiana, those are familiar names," says FOX 8 political analyst Mike Sherman. "In this race, both candidates have clearly decided their marginal gains are going to be in the rest of the state."

Political analysts think the race for lieutenant governor will come down to this.

"I think we are looking at a classic Louisiana runoff," says political analyst and publisher Jeremy Alford, "where we have two sides of the spectrum: a Republican vs. Democrat, a Mike Foster vs. a Cleo Fields, David Duke vs. Edwin Edwards. Right now it's looking like Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden, the lone Democrat atop the field, is probably going to make the runoff. The question is which lucky Republican is going to make it there with him."

All recent polls have Holden in the lead, followed by three Republicans: former Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser is second in all recent polls, followed closely by John Young.  Elbert Guillory is registering single-digit poll numbers.

"Who will be candidate of northern Louisiana, John Young or Billy Nungesser?" Sherman wonders.

Young and Nungesser are well known in southeast Louisiana.  That's one reason Nungesser has temporarily moved from Plaquemines to Acadiana.

"The swing region could very well be Lafayette," Alford tells us. "And the reason that's interesting to me is that Billy Nungesser, once he stepped down as Plaquemines Parish president, moved to Lafayette. He just opened up… his central headquarters in Lafayette."

They both have healthy campaign war chests.  Nungesser has $620,065 as of this writing, and Young has $1,922,260.

"If you look at the polls, you have to wonder when is someone going to attack Billy Nungesser," Alford says.  "He has had a slight lead in some polls, little bit bigger in others, which indicates that, at some point, someone's going to have to start whacking away at him."

Young has plenty of money and a strong base of supporters in Jefferson Parish, outside New Orleans. "john Young can overperform in the New Orleans market," Alford says.  "If he's able to do that, it may make up the difference. It could be a tight race."

The other Republican in the race, Elbert Guillory, has little money and little statewide name recognition.

"African Americans in the Republican Party are a rare breed," Sherman says. "Elbert Guillory certainly adds a little bit of interest and intrigue to this race. But what he has not shown the ability to do is fundraise or find a base of voters willing to support him."

In the end, political analysts expect Nungesser and Young to battle for the runoff.

While the office is lieutenant governor, Sherman says these candidates really are battling for a chance to be a future frontrunner for the state's top office.

"Make no mistake about it: Nobody runs for lieutenant governor because they are that passionate about tourism, as an end," Sherrman notes.  "The lieutenant governor post is the heir apparent.  It puts you in a high-profile position with a great title with a statewide portfolio of assets to manage.  It prepares you to run for governor."

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