If Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni were to scour the results of a new Advocate/WWL-TV poll in search of a silver lining to the dark cloud following him around these days, he'd have trouble finding one.
Taken after news broke that the FBI is investigating lewd text messages Yenni sent to a 17-year-old, and also following his attempt to quickly put the matter to rest via a vaguely worded videotaped apology, the poll of 501 registered parish voters found that 74 percent want him to resign.
And it gets worse from there.
Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni is in real danger of being removed from office by vote…
Forty-five percent of the people polled said they'd definitely sign a recall petition, and another 24 percent said they'd probably sign one. This suggests that the idea of removing Yenni from office against his will isn't as far-fetched as it first seemed. Louisiana's procedures favor the status quo, by requiring verified signatures from a third of the jurisdiction's registered voters just to hold a recall election. In Jefferson Parish, that would translate into more than 90,000 signatures, which is more than the number of votes cast for Yenni and his four vanquished opponents combined in last year's election.
But as daunting as that number sounds, the poll suggests that it's attainable, particularly given that a muscular petition drive is already underway. If the 45 percent "definitely sign" total is accurate, that translates into 121,000 potential signatures alone.
And there's one more set of numbers that should give Yenni pause. While his approval rating is underwater, with 21 percent saying they have a favorable opinion of him and 70 percent saying their view is unfavorable, the politicians who are trying to push him out remain notably popular. Same goes for several of his potential replacements.
Sheriff Newell Normand has a stunning 77 percent approval rating, with just seven percent disapproving. The two at-large parish council members aren't quite as well known, but their numbers are strong too; 51 percent like Cynthia Lee-Sheng and just seven percent don't, while 47 percent view Chris Roberts favorably, compared to 16 percent who see him unfavorably. Lee-Sheng and Roberts were the first big names to call on Yenni to resign, and Normand later joined them.
Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni for the first time on Wednesday confronted the scandal…
Then there's Yenni's predecessor in office, John Young, who has a 63-15 favorable-unfavorable ratio, according to the poll. Young ran for lieutenant governor rather than reelection last year and came up short, so he's one of the rumored possible candidates to take over the presidency should Yenni go. So is Lee-Sheng.
And frankly, poll numbers aside, these two also offer something else Yenni just can't these days, in that both are well-known quantities. And if there's one thing that Jefferson Parish voters probably don't want these days, it's more surprises.