Sharon Weston Broome (left) and Steve Carter (right)

Sharon Weston Broome (left) and Steve Carter (right)

Both Matt Watson and Jordan Piazza endorsed their former GOP rival Steve Carter this week before early voting started in the Dec. 5 runoff for East Baton Parish mayor-president. 

Their support comes as Carter  — who won 20% of the vote in the Nov. 3 election — tries to rally Republican voters behind his candidacy. Watson won 13% of the vote and Piazza won 10%. 

Incumbent Sharon Weston Broome, meanwhile, has yet to receive an enthusiastic endorsement from Democratic rival C. Denise Marcelle, whose candidacy likely prevented her from winning outright in the first round of voting. 

Broome has significantly less ground to make up than Carter and appears to have already locked up much of the Democratic vote locally. She won 48% of the vote on Nov. 3, compared to Marcelle's 7%.  

Marcelle said that both candidates reached out to her after the recent election, but only Carter asked to meet in person. Marcelle said Broome called but didn't ask for her endorsement.

"It was the weirdest conversation I've ever had after an election," Marcelle said. "[Broome] said, 'I think it's time for us to unify as a parish,' and basically said nothing after that." 

Still, Marcelle said she could not vote for a Republican, given her role on the Democratic Parish Executive Committee. Marcelle did endorse Broome in the 2016 election. 

Watson endorsed Carter in a press release Thursday, writing that "change needs to happen at the top and it needs to happen now."

He said that under Broome's leadership "we have gotten promises instead of action, crime instead of safety, and residents leaving our parish instead of raising their families here."

Piazza, a first time political candidate who earned 10% of the vote, announced his support for Carter in a press release Tuesday, arguing that Carter "will properly support our local law enforcement and put an end to the high crime rate plaguing our city, reinvigorate our economy, and fix our broken school system."

Piazza said he was initially wary of endorsing Carter because he heard rumblings that Tara Wicker, a Democratic Metro Council member, was under consideration as his administration's chief administrative officer.

Both Wicker and a spokesperson for Carter denied the assertion. 

Wicker, who garnered early support from GOP heavyweights like Lane Grigsby and Eddie Rispone, ran for mayor-president but was disqualified in court for failing to provide adequate evidence that she had filed two years worth of state income tax returns. 

Broome's campaign in a statement said she's received the support of a broad coalition of leaders, including Gov. John Bel Edwards, adding that Carter only "limped into the runoff."

"Endorsements are great, but Mayor-President Broome has the confidence of the residents of this city and parish behind her and nothing tops that," the statement read. 

Carter, meanwhile, said in a statement that "the majority of our parish voted for someone other than the current administration" on Nov. 3. 

"So, if you're one of those in the majority, looking for a change in the Mayor-President's office, then I'm your candidate, and I promise to bring commonsense leadership back to Baton Rouge," Carter said.

Early voting began Friday, Nov. 20 and runs through Nov. 28. The polls are not open on Sundays, on Thanksgiving Day, which is Nov. 26, or on Friday, Nov. 27. Election day is Dec. 5. 


Email Blake Paterson at bpaterson@theadvocate.com and follow him on Twitter @blakepater