As Lafayette Parish Sheriff candidates Mark Garber and Chad Leger head into another month of campaigning, they’ll have to convince voters to show up for a second time after less than 39 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the primary.
Only about 57,000 of around 147,000 registered parish voters participated in Saturday’s election.
“The biggest thing is getting our message out there and encouraging people to get out to the polls that day,” Leger said on Monday.
Garber took home 46 percent of the vote in Saturday’s election to Leger’s 39 percent, or a 4,264-vote difference. The race’s other two contenders, Rick Chargois and John Rogers, took in a combined 15 percent, or 8,508 votes.
Assuming the same voters show up to the polls — early voting is scheduled Nov. 7-14 for the Nov. 21 runoff election — Leger would need to capture at least 75 percent of Chargois’ and Rogers’ votes to win.
Unofficial results comparing the two front-runners show a stark, east-west divide in the parish based on precincts where each candidate won at least a plurality of votes.
More voters chose Garber in Lafayette, where he lives, works and received the endorsement of four-term Sheriff Mike Neustrom, as well as in Carencro, where he received an endorsement from Carencro Police Chief Carlos Stout. Garber also did well in Broussard, where he’s got family, but where Police Chief Brannon Decou endorsed his opponent.
Voters in the western part of the parish overwhelmingly chose Leger, including voters in Scott, where he lives and is serving his fourth term as police chief. Leger also led in Duson and its surrounding unincorporated communities.
Garber and Leger tied in four precincts in central Lafayette and three precincts in the Youngsville area, where Police Chief Rickey Boudreaux endorsed Leger. Garber and Leger each earned a plurality of votes in about half of the voting precincts in Youngsville, with Garber winning the area by just a few hundred votes.
“I’ve got some work to do. I’m not going to relax for even one minute,” Garber said Monday.
Both Chargois and Rogers are expected to make endorsements in the coming days, and both have met or have plans to meet with the two candidates.
“I want to make sure we make a well informed decision and don’t do it half-heartedly,” Chargois said.
Rogers, a litigation specialist for Neustrom’s administration, said on Monday he’ll return to work this week after the nine months he spent campaigning for his boss’ seat. He said he intends to make an endorsement soon.
“Ultimately, it’s what’s going to be best for the people of Lafayette Parish and what’s going to be best for the employees of the Sheriff’s Office,” Rogers said.
Should the last few months of the campaign be any indication for what’s in store for the next month, Lafayette Parish voters may be in for another round of heat as Garber and Leger have already proven to be fierce opponents.
They were the top two money-raisers in the primary, during which each lodged attack ads against the other in the final weeks before the election.
Garber’s campaign raised about $33,000 since the close of the last reporting period, when he had about $340,500 on hand to spend — most of it about $337,000 in personal money he loaned to his campaign. He had raised another $414,000 in contributions since announcing his candidacy.
More than $401,000 in contributions have gone to Leger, who had about $96,000 left over to spend at the close of the last reporting period and who raised another $1,200 before election day.
Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.