SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — As the Dec. 10 runoff nears, it’s no surprise that political rallies are pouring in; and local political analysts are chiming in on what endorsement of Tom Arceneaux’s cross-party Tuesday line by the current Shreveport mayor and two former media for Sen. Greg Tarver.
Arceneaux’s campaign announced the endorsement late Tuesday evening at a fundraiser.
The announcement is great news, particularly as two prominent black Democrats, Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins and Louisiana State Representative Cedric Glover, crossed the aisle to back the Republican in the race, even though Tarver is also a major Black Democrat from Louisiana.
Political analyst Dr. Theron Jackson calls the latest twist in Shreveport politics an “interesting phenomenon” that counters the stigma that this election is all about race and party.
“This is interesting because it seems both candidates, in particular, were trying to reach people who weren’t in their party and didn’t look like them,” Jackson said. “To make this an election that was about more than race.”
Eliminating racial and party lines in politics will allow voters to scrutinize candidates based on what they say they will do and what’s best for Shreveport. Jackson said an endorsement that crosses racial and party lines could also go a long way.
Jackson said politics has evolved into something very nationalized and polarized. That polarization has caused people to care less about geography and the issues that affect them locally. Tuesday’s announcement could be a step in a direction with less political divisions.
America Ground Radio co-anchor Stephen Parr said every candidate has a different reason for supporting the Republican in the race.
There is no love lost between Perkins and Tarver. Tension between candidates was evident as they spoke directly to each other during public forums, which, unlike debates, typically do not allow for rebuttals or cross-discussion between candidates.
For Glover, who is a former mayor of Shreveport, a current member of the Louisiana Legislature, and a member of the Legislative Black Caucus along with Tarver, it would seem that passing the party line would be automatic.
Parr believes Glover looked at the two candidates and decided Arceneaux was better for the city. Glover declined to comment until Tuesday morning, when the three men are expected to appear together for official approval.
Former Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler also endorsed Arceneaux.
In Shreveport’s mayoral history, there have only been two Republican mayors since Reconstruction — yes, Reconstruction after the Civil War. Removing racial and party polarization allows voters to choose a candidate they believe will successfully run the city. Jackson said clearing the polarization points is a big step toward improving the quality of life in Shreveport.
“This will force us to move into a space that I think will help this city by doing this about law and order not race,” Jackson said.
“Instead of focusing on partying, maybe we have the opportunity to do that Not focus on the party and instead focus on proficiency in the mayor’s office,” Parr said. “Can we have a mayor who can handle the day job of being mayor?”
Parr said some voters will vote in line with their designated party, but he hopes they consider who will work to improve the roads, get the streetlights working and tackle crime and other problems plaguing Shreveport.
Jackson and Parr also agree that voter turnout will be low, making December 10 all about candidates being able to round up their supporters and opponents’ former supporters at the polls.
“Turnout was 20-30% in the districts where Tarver won. In the districts that voted for Arceneaux, voter turnout was 35-40 percent,” Parr said. “If Tarver isn’t able to have a higher turnout than Arceneaux, he won’t win. Looking at Perkins’ turnout and approval rating, this is an uphill battle for Greg Tarver, and it’s a far cry from what we’ve seen in previous elections in this city.”
Jackson said it might be tempting to turn the election into a racial issue, but with so much unity talk during the campaign leading up to the primary, it wouldn’t be good for the city or the voters to switch to racial rhetoric.
“The candidates talked about unity, and I think some people will notice that it was in the primary,” Jackson said. “So you can’t run a primary talking about unity and turn it into running when it comes to the ballot because it could help you make it a racial election.”
Perkins and Glover both deferred any comments on the mayoral endorsement until Tuesday, November 29, 2022, 10:00 a.m. at the Arceneaux campaign headquarters.