Using our previous article on the various Lafayette Parish Races as a jumping off point, we’re taking a closer look at the most interesting one: Broussard. It’s interesting for a few reasons. But let’s just say that Broussard first found its way into our attention a few months ago. Since election season is upon us, I thought it might also be a good time to circle back and have a closer look at the city council races.
Broussard is certainly unique
In this cycle, incumbent Mayor Ray Bourque is being opposed by Corey Morgan. However, the mayor’s race appears to be something of an anomaly. The more interesting parts are happening down-ballot at the city-council level. Those battle lines formed when reports emerged that Mayor Ray Bourque was recruiting candidates.
Mayor Bourque’s notable donors include Gerald “Beau” Beaullieu, Don Landry, Josh Guillory, Mark Garber, Ken Ritter, Stuart Bishop and his PAC, Michot Consulting (Mike Michot) and TGP, PAC (Tyron Picard). These are names you should know. They’re all in Lafayette’s well-connected clique. However, the trailing two you may not be as familiar with. Mike Michot is a former state senator (replaced by Page Cortez) that works with the Picard Group (a lobbying firm run by Tyron Picard). If you’re paying attention, you’ll see their names and photos occasionally – but rarely in news headlines.
Jeff Delahoussaye currently holds the at-large council seat, which is being challenged by District 6 Councilman Ray Gary. The financial difference between the candidates can’t be more stark. Delahoussaye has raised nearly $100,000 over several years while Ray Gary has only raised $13,150. Dollars don’t always equal votes. However, they are usually a pretty good indication of support a candidate can expect to receive at the polls. Add to this, Delahoussaye’s deep local connections include a long-standing friendship with AG Jeff Landry.
Defining the factions
Since we’re categorizing candidates into easy to identify groups, we should name them. The first one I’ll call, “Team Mayor.” These candidates like the administration and are generally amicable to the mayor and his hand-picked bureaucrats running things. The council remains in place as a covering for the administration. They approve the budget, move money around as needed, pass ordinances that the administration requests, etc. Council meetings tend to be much quieter and shorter with this style. The Chamber of Commerce and other “influence peddlers” prefer this model.
Let’s call the second one, “Team Council.” Their version of civic mindedness is for the council to be full of engaged, independent thinkers. These candidates want to be an active participant in charting the course of their local community. Their approach is to provide direction for the mayor to follow – instead of the other way around. They still manage the budget and control the money. The council meetings may even appear to be almost identical to the first style of governing. However, a likely benefit of combining an independent council with a strong-willed mayor will be rigorous debate. That probably means longer, deeper meetings and more frequent news headlines.
Angel Racca – District 1 incumbent. The first thing that jumped out when we were reviewing campaign finance reports was incumbent Councilman Angel Racca. While she has only raised $3,350.00, it’s the sources that are the most interesting. Mayor Ray Bourque and city engineer Walter Comeaux’s engineering firm were among her very few contributors. Jeremy Foco, who’s running for District 6, also chipped in. Her expenses tell a story, too, as her campaign materials come from the mayor’s printing company.
David Bonin – District 2 incumbent. Bonin is largely funding his own campaign. Aside from in-kind contributions received, the $3,322.19 reported as contributions constitute the candidate’s personal money. According to Bonin’s campaign expenses, it was again the mayor’s printing company that created most (if not all) of his campaign materials. As of this writing, we’re still waiting on the Board of Ethics to post his 10-day report.
Mark Ste Marie – District 3 challenger. Ste Marie raised an impressive $23,310.00 in contributions. He’s grouped in with the team thanks mostly to contributions from Jeremy Foco and his father Johnnie. His known contributions appear to be strongest from the construction industry. Unlike others we’ve lumped into the mayor’s group, Ste Marie did not use the mayor’s printing company for his campaign materials. As of this writing, Ste Marie’s 10-day report on file with the Board of Ethics remains pending.
Michael Rabon – District 4 incumbent. Rabon has not filed any campaign reports. He’s on this list thanks to Girouard’s opposition.
David Forbes – District 5 open seat. Forbes has raised $2,823, of which a portion comes by way of Jeremy Foco’s father, Johnnie. However, he hasn’t even spent $600 of it yet. So far, Forbes has only spent a few hundred dollars with the mayor’s printing company. As with several others, we’re still waiting for Forbes’ 10-day report to be posted.
Jeremy Foco – District 6 open seat. As far as we can tell, Foco is completely self-funded. However, that could change when his 10-day report is finally posted on the board of ethics site. Aside from his various donations to other members of the mayor’s team, Foco purchased $4,009 in campaign materials from the mayor’s printing company. His report also reflects a donation of $2,000 to the Broussard Chamber of Commerce. That may be the source (or corroboration) of rumors that the Chamber has been more than passive in this particular race.
Jeremy Frederick – District 1 challenger. Although Frederick has not filed any campaign finance reports, we will assume he’s with the council-run-government team by virtue of his opposition to Racca.
Charles Sharma – District 2 challenger. Sharma has raised $12,450.00 which includes financial support from candidates seeking other seats in the same race; namely: Heather Girouard (Dist 4) and Jesse Regan (Dist 3). These cross-contributions provide the insight to connect them together. Retired Chief Brannon Decou also appears in several of these reports, including Sharma’s.
Jesse Regan – District 3 incumbent. Another decent fundraiser, Regan had control of about $55,000 in funds this cycle, and currently has about $33,000 cash-on-hand. Fellow council candidates, Heather Girouard and Charles Sharma, were minor contributors. Larger ones include several in the same political power clique: [Jean-Paul] Coussan PAC, Gerald “Beau” Beaullieu, and Mike Michot. Retired Chief Brannon Decou also contributed.
Heather Girouard – District 4 challenger. Girouard has raised $5,480.00. She finds herself in this camp by way of financial support from Charles Sharma (Dist 2) and Jesse Regan (Dist 3) and retired Chief Brannon Decou. Her 10-day report has been posted, but doesn’t provide any additional insight.
Ryan Romero – District 5 open seat. Romero’s $2,525.00 fundraising includes a contribution by Jesse Regan (Dist 3) and retired Chief Brannon Decou, putting him in the same camp.
Kody Allen – District 6 open seat. Allen has raised $9,395.00 which appears to be mostly unique, except for retired Chief Brannon Decou. Jeremy Hidalgo also made a $10 contribution, which is hardly worth mentioning.
Where will you come down?
These rough associations may be helpful if you live in Broussard and prefer one method of governing over another. However, most people tend to favor incumbents as the name they know. The race to watch will be district 3, which seems to have the most financial interest. However, the sleepier districts of 4, 5, and 6 will most likely determine if Broussard stays with the mayor-led governing philosophy, or changes to a more independent, council-led government.
Baton Rouge Office Update
We're all set to chase the ghost of Huey Long out of the Roumain Building (and Louisiana). Completed in 1913, Baton Rouge's first skyscraper (and location of Huey Long's 1920s office) has a new owner. His renovation team is working diligently to restore all six stories of the building to its former glory. As such, our target move-in date is May 1st of this year.
Thank you to all who donated to help make this happen. The new address for our Baton Rouge location will be 343 3rd Street, Suite 301. Now, we're turning our attention to furniture and a grand opening celebration. If you'd still like to help get us moved in, it's not too late. We still need you to contribute, volunteer, or assist in your own way.
While running an office isn't free, we're well on our way to covering the $9,000 for the first year's expenses. However your support is critical to making this new location a permanent success. Will you chip-in to help Louisiana become the great state it should have been all along?
I wish all candidates the best of luck!