VOTE TUESDAY: Presidential election stirs interest in Iberville

Deidre Cruse

An additional 335 Iberville Parish residents have registered to vote over the past year, perhaps in response to the hard-fought presidential election that will lead the ballot at the general election on Tuesday.

The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. parishwide for voting in the presidential race between Democratic U. S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, 47, and Republican U. S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, 72, and seven other presidential candidates from other parties.

Some 1,299 Iberville voters cast early ballots by 1 p.m. Monday, according to Voter Registrar Melissa S. Bourgoyne.

Clerk of Court J. G. “Bubbie” Dupont estimated that 55-65 percent of voters will turn out to the polls on Tuesday.

Statewide, Louisiana voters are expected to vote for McCain. In recent elections, Iberville voters have supported the Democratic nominee. Just over 75 percent of local voters are registered as Democrats.

With Obama, the first African American ever nominated for president by a major political party, the Democrats picked up 253 new registered voters here, but lost 110 white voters, for a net gain of 161 and a total registration of 15,981.

The latest figures were posted after October 6, the close of registration for the November 4 election, compared to registration on September 30, 2007.

The Republican Party gained 130 voters, including 121 whites and 1 black, for a total of 2,550.

Other parties picked up a net increase of 44 voters, for a total of 2,689. Registration of black voters to other parties was down by 13.

Voters parishwide also can vote for U. S. Senator, in a hotly-contested race between Mary Landrieu, the Democrat seeking her third term in the office, and state Treasurer John Kennedy, the Republican who wants to unseat her. A Libertarian and two other candidates also are in the race.

Obama’s presence on the ballot is thought to help Landrieu’s chances of fending off the challenge from Kennedy. Landrieu has won here Senate elections by close margins, and some of her Democratic voting base in New Orleans was displaced after Hurricane Katrina. Both national parties pouring money into the contest, and it has been considered too close to call.

Libertarian candidate Richard Fontanesi of Baton Rouge, independent Jay Patel of Hammond and no party candidate Robert Stewart of New Orleans are not expected to be factors in the Senate contest.

U. S. Rep. Don Cazaoux of New Roads, who survived two party primaries and the general election in a special election last spring to win the job, is facing challenges from two Baton Rouge legislators -- Republican state Sen. William “Bill” Cassidy and state Rep. Michael Jackson, now an independent candidate.

Jackson, a black candidate, ran for the 6th District post as a Democrat last spring, but lost the run-off to Cazayoux, whom he believed the national party had chosen to back.

Since the winner of this contest must take only a plurality of votes and a third of the district is black, Jackson is making the attempt as an independent.

The 6th District contest will be on the ballot in about half of Iberville Parish precincts on Tuesday – precincts 1, 2 and 3 at the White Castle Community Center; 4 at White Castle Fire Station #3; 5 at the Bayou Pigeon Library; 6 at the Bayou Goula Volunteer Fire Department, 6A at the White Castle Fire Station #3; 7 at the Bayou Goula Volunteer Fire Department; 8 at the Point Pleasant Recreation Building; 10 at the St. Gabriel Library; 11 at the Recreation Building in Carville; 12 at the Gillis Long Hansen Disease Center; 13 at E. J. Gay School; 15A at Crescent School; 15B, 17 and 17A at the Plaquemine Library; 18 at the Knights of Columbus; 24 at Crescent School; 25, 25A and 25B at the Bayou Sorrel Library, and 26A at Crescent School.

Tuesday’s ballot includes only two local elections – run-offs in the Ward 2 justice of the peace constable races. Voters in precincts 7, 8, 10 and 11 can participate.

In the constable’s race, incumbent Kein Brock will face off with challenger Lloyd “Big Red” Snowten, who ran first in the primary election with 40 percent of the vote to 31 percent for Brock.

In the justice of the peace race, incumbent Jimmy Green III faces a run-off with challenger Alexander Wright Sr. In the primary, Green received 35 percent of the vote to 32 percent for Wright.

Blanche Baylock, who ran last in the four-candidate field vying for Ward 2 justice of the peace, is contesting the results of the primary election based on the way her race and the one for constable were listed on the ballot.

“The ballot was confusing,” she wrote Gov. Bobby Jindal in a letter asking to call a new election in the race for November 4. She also has filed suit in 18th Judicial District Court.

Baylock also sent her complaint letter to Senator Landrieu, Secretary of State Jay Dardenne, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the U. S. Voter Fraud Commission, the Iberville Board of Election Supervisors, CNN, The Oprah Winfrey Show and list of other officials and media.

On the presidential ballot, in addition to McCain and Obama, Louisiana voters have a choice of seven other presidential tickets.

McCain, of course, if running with vice presidential nominee Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, 44, and Obama is running with U. S. Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, 65.

The best known of the other candidates is Ralph Nader, the 74-year-old political activist who ran as the green party nominee in the past three elections, is running as an independent with Matt Gonzalez, 43, a prominent San Francisco politician, lawyer and activist.

Cynthia McKinney, 53, a former U. S. representative from Georgia, is heading the Green Party ticket this year. Her running mate is Rosa Clemente, 36, a community organizer who has been described as a “Hip Hop” activist.

The Constitution Party ticket includes presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin, 56, the founder and pastor of a Pensacola, Fla., Baptist church. Baldwin is a former Republican who supported Texas Congressman Ron Paul in the Republican primaries. Baldwin’s running mate is Darrell Castle, 60, an activist and attorney from Memphis.

Congressman Paul, 73, who ran fourth among the Republican candidates for president, is the nominee of the Louisiana Taxpayers Party. His running mate is Barry Goldwater Jr., 70, a former U. S. representative from California and the son of the late U. S. Sen. Barry Goldwater Sr., who carried the Republican banner in 1964.

Louisiana is one of only two states where Paul will appear on the ballot as a presidential candidate. The other is Montana, where the Constitution Party put him on the ballot.

Gene Amondson, 65, is making his second run for president as the nominee of the Prohibition Party. His running mate is the party’s secretary, LeRoy Pletten, whose previous experience as a candidate was finishing fifth in a field of five in a local school board race in Michigan.

Heading the ticket for the Socialist and Liberation Parties is Gloria La Riva, 74, who previously ran for president as the nominee of the Workers World Party. Her running mate is Eugene Puryear, 22, a Howard University student described as an anti-war activist and who was involved in the campaign to free the Jena 6.

The Socialist Workers Party has again nominated a member of its National Committee, James Harris, 60, the party’s nominee in 1996 and 2000. Alyson Kennedy, a former coal minor currently employed as a garment worker, is his running mate.