Former mayor-president candidate Darryl Gissel endorsed Democrat Sharon Weston Broome Wednesday in the now two-person race to become East Baton Rouge Parish's next leader.

Gissel, who ran unaffiliated with a political party, finished sixth in the primary, but scooped up about 6 percent of the vote and carried three precincts around downtown, Mid City and LSU. His campaign focused on the need to get away from partisan politics, as he said they contributed to the many divides in Baton Rouge.

Gissel said Wednesday that he chose to back Broome instead of Republican state Sen. Bodi White because she's a unifying and inclusive leader who will represent Baton Rouge's diverse communities. Throughout his campaign, Gissel stressed the importance of the mayor's power to convene.

He attacked White on the campaign trail for his previous backing in the Legislature of bills to create new school districts in the southeastern part of the parish, an unsuccessful push by residents there that eventually grew into the movement to create the city of St. George.

"During the primary I watched as Bodi struggled to explain his role in the St George breakaway effort," Gissel said, adding that some of those who were vocal leaders of the St. George movement are now supporting White for mayor. "Perception becomes reality in politics. You simply can’t be perceived as a unifier if you are seen as being on a team of dividers."

During the mayor's race, White has said he opposes the creation of St. George and would not support any new cities in the parish. He defended his past involvement as mostly associated with the quest for the new school district, saying his attendance at St. George-related events was because constituents asked him to be present. 

Broome finished with about 32 percent of the vote in the primary, while White finished with 29 percent. Gissel's is the second major endorsement of a former candidate in the runoff season, after fourth-place finisher John Delgado, a Republican Metro Council member, endorsed White last week.

White responded that he has heard from some of Gissel's strongest supporters and they are now backing him. 

"I will not attack Darryl Gissel for endorsing Sharon like Sharon did to John Delgado," White said.  

Broome, a former legislator, said she was thrilled by Gissel's endorsement, as his campaign embodied inclusiveness and diversity.

"Darryl's passion for bringing our parish together reflects my own strong desire to unite us around a plan and vision to reduce traffic and crime in the parish," Broome said. "I look forward to working with Darryl in the campaign and hopefully in my administration."

Follow Andrea Gallo on Twitter, @aegallo.​