Deidre Cruse

Nearly 55 percent of Iberville Parish voters backed Democrat Barack Obama in his winning bid to become the United States’ first black president. It was a higher percentage than the nationwide vote that gave the Illinois senator his historic victory Tuesday night.

Local interest in the historic election was evident from the start of voting. A total of 2,012 Iberville Parish voters cast early ballots, making it the largest early vote ever cast in the parish, Voter Registrar Melissa S. Bourgoyne said.

The number represented 9.5 percent of the local electorate. All told, more than 77 percent of Iberville’s 21,220 voters turned out for the historic election, topping Clerk of Court J. G. “Bubbie” Dupont Jr.’s prediction of a 65 to 70 percent turnout.

In the only two local races on the ballot, incumbent Jimmy Green III, a no-party candidate, prevailed with 52 percent of the vote over Democratic challenger Alexander Wright Sr. in the Ward 2 justice of the peace race. Incumbent Kevin Brock lost to fellow Democrat Lloyd “Big Red” Snowten in the Ward 2 constable’s race. Snowten won with 55 percent of the vote.

Statewide, voters delivered nearly 59 percent of the vote to Arizona Sen. John McCain, thus awarding Louisiana’s seven electoral votes to the Republican ticket that included Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who might have become the nation’s first woman vice president.

Nationwide, with Missouri and North Carolina still too close to call Wednesday morning, voters had favored Obama and running mate U. S. Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware with some 52 percent of the popular vote to 46 percent for McCain-Palin.

Obama retained the states John Kerry won in 2004 and had added seven others to the Democratic column to give him a decisive lead in electoral votes – 349 to 162 for McCain. The networks declared Obama the winner around 11 p.m. election night after California returns put him over the 270 electoral votes he needed to win.

In Louisiana, the U. S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu and Republican challenger, state Treasurer John Kennedy, was as bitter and as close as the presidential election.

Iberville parish voters backed Landrieu with 67 percent of the vote, to 31 percent for Kennedy. Statewide, the vote split 52 to 46 percent in favor of Landrieu.

6th Congressional District

Just over 50 percent of local voters sided with Democratic incumbent Don Cazayoux in the 6th Congressional District race, and awarded 35 percent of the vote to Republican state Sen. William “Bill” Cassidy and nearly 12 percent to state Rep. Michael Jackson, a Democrat turned independent in order to make the race.

Throughout the Baton Rouge area district, Cassidy prevailed with 48 percent of the vote in the contest, with Cazayoux taking 40 percent and Jackson 15.

Cazayoux, then a state representative, won the two Democratic primaries and the general election last spring in the special election to replace Republican U. S Rep. Richard Baker, who had resigned to become a lobbyist.

He beat Jackson in a close second primary race for the Democratic nomination. Jackson, a black candidate, said he thought the National Democratic Party had arbitrarily favored Cazayoux, a conservative white candidate, in the spring campaign. He ran as an independent this time.

The conventional wisdom was that, in a district with a population that is one-third black, Jackson would peel enough votes from Cazayoux’ total to prevent his election to a full term – and that turned out to be the case.

Constitutional Amendments

Like voters statewide, Iberville voters approved the first three proposed constitutional amendments and rejected the remaining four – including Amendment #4, which was promoted by the parish’s legislative delegation and endorsed by the Iberville Parish Council.

Amendment #4 would have increased the amount of state severance tax returned to the parish from $850,000 to $1.85 million next year and then to a maximum of $2.85 million a year thereafter. It also would have allocated up to $10 million for water quality projects in the Atchafalaya Basin, a cause promoted by state Rep. Karen St. Germain.

Here’s how parish voters decided the issues:

On Amendment #1, on term limits for certain boards and commissions, 8,325 for (66.99%), 4,103 against (33.01%).

On Amendment #2 setting time limits for calling special sessions, 7,018 for (58.26%), 5,027 against (41.74%).

On Amendment #3, providing for temporary successors for legislators ordered to active military duty, 6,983 for (57.94%), 5,069 against (42.06%).

On Amendment #4, providing additional state severance taxes to parishes, 5,387 for (44.91%), 6,607 against (55.09%).

On Amendment #5, on the transfer of special property tax assessments for senior citizens, the disabled and certain members of the military, 5,512 for (46.63%), 6,309 against (53.37%).

On Amendment #6, on the re-sale of certain expropriated property, 5,469 for (46.13%), 6,386 against (53.87%).

On Amendment #7, on the investment of non-pension benefit trusts in the stock market, 5,440 for (45.52%), 6,512 against (54.48%).