SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Now that the field for the Shreveport mayor’s race is set, LSU Shreveport Political Science Professor Jeffery Sadow says a picture of the tone we can expect and the potential impact on voter turnout is beginning to take shape.
Sadow believes the mayor’s race will be highly competitive and driven by an array of dynamic personalities, which usually drive higher turnout.
The professor says Louisiana voters traditionally respond to a candidate’s personality and are a little more forgiving of most transgressions. A tolerant voter block may be helpful for Senator Greg Tarver, Mayor Adrian Perkins, and Fuller, all of whom have drawn criticism for past and present missteps or showings of poor judgment.
“In Louisiana, there has always been a history of emphasizing the personalities over other considerations. Voters here tend to concentrate more on how the person projects than what they do,” said Sadow.
Shreveport Councilwoman LeVette Fuller qualified for the mayor’s race at the eleventh-hour Friday, which will make the race for the city’s top elected official more competitive.
Finances could pose a problem for Fuller, who had little money in her campaign fund at the end of 2021. However, Sadow says Fuller may be a suitable alternative for Democrats who don’t see themselves voting for either Perkins or Tarver and would not vote for Republican Tom Arceneaux or former Republican Caddo Commissioner Mario Chavez.
“She will negatively impact the Chavez vote, as he would have been the natural home of the Perkins and Tarver voters who are not Republicans. Her entry notably reduces his (Chavez’s) chances of making the runoff.”
That is not good news for Chavez, who decided to run as a no-party candidate rather than to run under the Republican banner as he had in his election to the Caddo Commission.
Chavez’s switch could help Tom Arceneaux’s campaign because core conservatives won’t support a “former” Republican who seems to be moving toward the center, which Sadow says Chavez’s most recent voting record on the commission reflects.
When asked if he believes advertising for the races will get personal, Sadow says he expects the campaigns to be contentious.
“Yes, it will get personal. There will be mudslinging and questions of character. Voters will say they don’t like negative advertising, but they work. The more aggressive the campaign, the higher the turnout.”
The race for mayor is not exclusive to well know political movers. Several lesser-known candidates are passionate about their desire to lead the city of Shreveport. Sadow says that sometimes someone with less visibility can become a contender, but it is not the norm.
“It will be difficult without name recognition. Candidates with a bigger name can raise money more easily than lesser-known contenders. Running for citywide elected office requires a little more than a social media page and the hope that people will find you.”
Sadow says issues will drive this election. Whichever candidate aggressively pushes a message and strategy that connects with voters will get their supporters to the polls on November 8.