26th JDC Runoff Takes a Nasty Turn As of Late
The election season is not over – at least for Bossier and Webster parishes. A district judge’s race, which has become contentious and mean-spirited, is on the ballot this Saturday, December 8.
Judicial races are usually just that – judicial. They usually fly under the radar because there are strict guidelines that candidates must follow.
Not so in the race for the vacancy on the 26th Judicial District Court between Mike Nerren, an assistant district attorney, and Whit Graves, a Bossier City attorney.
Apparently outside forces for both candidates have gotten involved and turned the race into a negative one, which likely could damage the credibility of the candidate elected judge and leave hard feelings among supporters of both competitors.
Among the attacks from these outside forces is a YouTube video severely criticizing Bossier-Webster District Attorney Schuyler Marvin, who has endorsed Nerren, and, ultimately, Nerren, who works for Marvin.
It was done anonymously, and the Graves campaign camp is denying any participation in the video. At the same time, there have been mailouts and other Internet underminings alleging Graves had a past suspension of his law license by the Louisiana Supreme Court, which Graves denied in an ad. And there have been negative television and newspaper ads from both camps.
The Graves campaign claims that the Nerren campaign paid African-American Bossier Parish School Board member Julian Darby a consulting fee of $2,000 to be placed on his ballot with Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama for the November 6 election. As a result, the Louisiana Republican Party has officially endorsed Graves for the judicial seat.
Not to be forgotten are endorsements for both candidates from elected and other public officials, who have put their political reputations on the line.
One veteran politico commented that this race is the meanest he can remember for a judicial seat on the district court bench, or any judicial race for that matter.
It leaves prospective voters with a lot of information and misinformation to sort through before going to the polls to cast their ballots.
In the Nov. 6 primary, Nerren finished first with 40 percent of the vote and Graves came in second with 31 percent.
The unknown factor in the race are the supporters of Springhill City Judge John Slattery, who finished third with 29 percent.
Losing judicial candidates are forbidden by law from making endorsements, but winning over Slattery’s supporters is crucial for both candidates.
There are 71,614 registered voters in Bossier Parish and 26,377 in Webster Parish.
The primary results in Bossier were Nerren 41 percent, Graves 37 percent, and Slattery 22 percent. In Webster, it was Slattery 47 percent, Nerren 37 percent, and Graves 16 percent.
How will voters view this contentious race? The turnout probably won’t be that high since it is the only runoff race on the ballot in Bossier.
In Webster, there are races in a few municipalities that could help turnout. Cullen will elect a mayor, Sibley a police chief, and Springhill has a tax proposition regarding a Fire District.
Janet Burke, Registrar of Voters in Bossier Parish, says races that get contentious can go one of two ways. They can energize voters to go to the polls, or it can turn off voters.
She is predicting a voter turnout in Bossier of 18-20 percent, but noted that it could be as low as 15 percent or as high as 25 percent. Early voting, she explained, makes it difficult to determine election day turnout.
When all is said and done, the winner will serve out the remainder of the term of District Judge Bruce Bolin, who has retired.
All six 26th Judicial District judges will be up for re-election in the fall of 2014. That means the winner of the present race will serve only two years before having to run for a full term.
District judges serve six-year terms. No word yet on whether any of the judges plan to retire. That would create another vacancy on the District Court in 2014.
Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s criticism of how former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney conducted his campaign for the presidency and his assessment of why he lost has not gone unnoticed.
Former campaign aides for Romney struck back at Jindal and former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich in comments published on the Daily Mail website, a product of Associated Newspapers, Ltd.
And vocalizing on MSNBC, Dan Senor, a former top foreign policy adviser to Romney, accused some of Romney's supporters of being fair-weather friends.
He noted that just days before the election at a big campaign event in Ohio, some were letting Romney know they wanted to be a part of his administration. Optimism was high at that point that Romney would win the election.
Another senior adviser to Romney singled out Jindal and Gingrich as two critics who were fair-weather friends. The adviser declined to be named because he was criticizing other Republicans.
He said: “Bobby Jindal wanted very, very much to be Vice President.” He added that Jindal traveled at times with Romney and made campaign stops for him in many states.
The adviser blasted Jindal and Gingrich for being two of Romney’s supporters who were quickest to blast him after he lost.
Gingrich took Romney to task for saying that gifts that President Obama made to certain voting blocs won him re-election. Gingrich called Romney’s comments “nuts and insulting.”
Jindal was critical of that same Romney comment, but went further by saying that the Republican Party needs to stop dividing American voters and go after 100 percent of the voters.
That wasa reference to Romney’s comment – secretly recorded during a campaign meeting with high-dollar donors – that he was not worried about the 47 percent of the voters who were dependent upon government handouts.
Jindal critics viewed his comments as the beginning of his efforts to obtain the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
The Louisiana governor, new head of the Republican Governors Association, is consistently listed by political analysts among a growing number of Republicans who are positioning themselves to seek the GOP presidential nomination.
Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.