With three weeks to go until Mandeville’s voters head to the polls, the races are picking up steam, and some candidates are picking up endorsements.
The latest round of endorsements came from the St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee, known as St. Tammany CHAMBERPAC, which was formed last year.
The new group — technically separate from the Chamber of Commerce and with its own membership, board and finances — gives the business community a way to endorse candidates, whereas the chamber is allowed to weigh in only on issues, such as term limits.
The PAC met with the two mayoral candidates and 10 council candidates, and on Friday, it announced it is endorsing both incumbent Donald Villere and his sole opponent, Councilman Rick Danielson, in the hotly contested mayoral election.
In the council races, the group gave its nod to sitting council members Clay Madden and Carla Buchholz for the two at-large seats and to two newcomers: Mike Pulaski, who is running for the District 2 seat being vacated by Buchholz, and John Keller, who is one of two people running to unseat Ernest Burguières from his District 3 seat.
The group did not offer an endorsement in the District 1 race, which pits one-term incumbent David Ellis against the seat’s former holder, Jerry Coogan.
“St. Tammany CHAMBERPAC is focused on candidates’ commitments to work with the business community,” said Larry Manshel, the committee’s chairman.
These are at least the third set of endorsements in the Mandeville elections.
The Alliance for Good Government gave its nods to Villere, Buchholz, Madden, Ellis, Burguières and Pulaski.
The St. Tammany Republican Parish Executive Committee endorsed Danielson, Madden, Pulaski and Ellis, and Laure Sica for one of the two at-large seats. It did not make an endorsement in the council District 3 race.
All of the candidates in all races are Republicans.
The race that has drawn the most attention by far is the contest for mayor, where the two candidates have squared off several times over the past four years when Danielson was on the council and Villere was the mayor. With just over a month to go, Villere owned a more than 2-to-1 advantage in cash on hand, with nearly $50,000 to Danielson’s $23,000.
But observers have been reluctant to declare an advantage to either side, with many expecting the margin could be razor-thin, as it was in 2010, when Villere defeated Trilby Lenfant by just three votes.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.