Although White is a registered Democrat, the flier states that “Louisiana has only one conservative black female Republican Judge: Trudy White.”
Williams, of Baton Rouge, said he wants voters to know that White has twice changed her party affiliation.
White, a registered Democrat, responded to the flier by saying Williams is “clearly … trying to avoid running on his record.”
“The mailer was sent out to African-American voters prior to early voting, to scare, incite and polarize these voters not to vote for me,” she said in an email. “I believe that this is a clear act of desperation on his part.”
White, a former Baton Rouge City Court judge, was a Democrat when she challenged and defeated then-state District Judge Curtis Calloway in 2008. She then ran unsuccessfully as a Republican against state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Mike McDonald, a Baton Rouge Republican, in 2012.
Now she’s running as a Democrat in her re-election effort against Williams and fellow Democrat and lawyer Gideon Carter III.
“I think the voters need to know that at some point she was a Democrat, then at one point she was a Republican, and now she’s a Democrat,” Williams said in an interview. “We don’t deny that her registration today says Democrat. What will it say after the election?”
Williams stated in his official campaign announcement that he will not play the “switch your political party game” to get elected.
White said she has never been influenced by a person’s political affiliation.
“My record shows that I have an unwavering commitment to the impartial administration of justice,” she said. “There is no room for politics in our courts.”
Carter, of Baton Rouge, finished second in the 2012 appeals court race, with White placing third. McDonald beat Carter in a runoff to retain his seat on the 1st Circuit.
White has said she was wrongly advised that running as a Republican in the appellate court race would better her chances of winning that election.
Early voting for the Nov. 4 election runs through Tuesday.
‘Defenders’ endorse board candidates
A new group with a name reminiscent of a superhero comic that backs leaders who “will always put children before profit and will fearlessly represent the voters in their district” has endorsed eight candidates in seven local school board races: four in East Baton Rouge Parish and three in Baker.
Defenders of Public Education was formed in 2013. Its endorsements, especially in the case of East Baton Rouge Parish, are going to candidates defined by their opposition to ones backed by local business leaders, including Lane Grigsby and members of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.
The election is Nov. 4 with a runoff, if necessary, Dec. 6.
The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board candidates being endorsed by Defenders of Public Education are Mary Lynch, District 1; Vereta Lee, District 2; Tarvald Smith, District 4; and Jerry Arbour and W.T. Winfield, District 5.
The candidates in Baker School Board races the group has endorsed are Elaine Davis, District 1; Troy Watson, District 3; and Jerrie Davenport-Williams, District 4.
Six of the eight endorsed are incumbents. The exceptions are Winfield, who served on the board previously, and Davenport-Williams.
The group opted not to endorse any candidates in East Baton Rouge Parish School Board races in districts 7 and 8, and in Baker districts 2 and 5.
The spokesman for Defenders of Public Education is Mike Deshotels, a retired high school science teacher and the writer of the Louisiana Educator blog. He is a founding member of the Coalition For Louisiana Public Education, a group of educators formed in 2012 to fight Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education reform agenda, and he is the husband of former East Baton Rouge Parish School Board member Donna Deshotels.
Deshotels said the group relied on a survey and on the records of the candidates in determining its endorsements.
Validating St. George signatures no easy task
The East Baton Rouge Parish Registrar of Voters Office has the herculean task of validating more than 18,200 signatures on a petition seeking a vote on creating the city of St. George.
Initially, St. George organizers wanted 20,000 signatures to create a substantial cushion in case some names were struck on technicalities. But because the required number of signatures dropped to 16,500 (it was adjusted to count the number of registered voters the day the petition was submitted), St. George organizers will still have a healthy overage of signatures.
The process to validate the signatures will take at least a month, Registrar Elaine Lamb said. The extremely tedious work requires looking at each person, checking to ensure the address is actually in the boundaries of the proposed city of St. George, checking to make sure they still live there and validating the signature by comparing it to signatures on voter registrations and other records.
Lamb said she couldn’t estimate how many signatures are typically tossed during the validation period.
The only comparable petition verification she’s overseen was the city of Central, which required only about 5,000 signatures. Lamb said she expects she’ll have to seek outside help from the Secretary of State’s Office for the job.
And the timing couldn’t be worse, because early voting started Tuesday. She said her office won’t even begin the verification process until early voting ends.
If St. George falls short on the number of verified signatures it needs for an election, organizers will have 60 days to make up the difference.
Attorney Mary Olive Pierson, representing the city of Baton Rouge in its fight against St. George, questioned whether St. George officials gave themselves enough room for a “margin of error.”
“Some of those signatures won’t be able to be certified,” she said. “They’ve been trying to get signatures for more than a year now. I’m sure some of those people have died.”
Advocate staff writers Joe Gyan, Charles Lussier and Rebekah Allen contributed to this report.