"The event has kind of taken on a life of its own," says Armentor. "I don't know that something quite like this has been done before."
The event, dubbed the "No-Party Party," is novel considering that Armentor and several other local prominent Democrats publicly embraced Durel, a Republican. Armentor has received flak from some fellow members of the Lafayette Parish Democratic Executive Committee for holding the event, but says "99 percent" of the feedback he's gotten has been positive. "[Durel]'s extremely popular," says Armentor. "Almost everybody who found out about the event had very positive things to say."
Armentor mailed invites to 2,400 people, along with a letter in which he declared, "Durel may well be the best mayor our town has had." The event could draw up to 1,000 people, though Armentor would only say that he expects the crowd to match that of the last big fund-raiser held at his home ' a party in honor of former Democratic Rep. Chris John that drew 600 people.
The event already boasts a co-host committee of more than 100, including several high-profile political players from both parties. Prominent Republicans slated to attend include U.S. Sen. David Vitter and U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal. Among the co-hosting Democrats are retired 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal Chief Judge Ned Doucet and former U.S. Attorney\state Democratic Party chairman Mike Skinner.
The event promises to pull in an estimated $100,000 for the Durel campaign which, nearly 11 months away from the election, is already off to an impressive start. At the start of 2006, Durel reported having $15,339 in his campaign fund. But money for his 2007 re-election bid didn't really start coming in until this fall, with two successful Durel fund-raisers ' a golf tournament at The Farm and a dinner party at the City Club at River Ranch.
While Durel wouldn't give specifics on his campaign fund, he says, "With this fund-raiser, I'd say we're going to be in pretty good shape. I'm probably going to finish the year with as much money as I ran my entire campaign with last time."
That would put Durel's campaign arsenal at around $400,000 going into 2007. In 2003, the Durel campaign spent approximately $375,000 throughout the 2003 city-parish president's race, which went to a November runoff election. In that race, Durel didn't raise his first dollar until January 2003, 10 months before the primary election.
"Once you're in there," Durel says, "it's a little different than when you are a political outsider and unknown."
Durel, who based his last campaign on being a political outsider with a fresh perspective, says that while the circumstances around him have changed, he still has the same approach to his job.
"There's no doubt I'm more political now than I was three years ago," Durel says. "But I still think I approach everything in a business-like manner, and the reality, unfortunately, of the world in which I find myself now is that it takes dollars to run a campaign.
"People are going to have their own views," he continues, "based on what information they have, however they get that information, but I don't think anybody will deny that what I set out to do is what we're still striving to do, and that is bringing people together to move the community forward."
Since taking office, Durel has made being publicly accessible a priority. He started a weekly radio show, a monthly "coffee with the mayor," and makes it a point to attend all major local events and regularly meet with many community groups.
Armentor, who supported Durel's Democratic opponent, Glenn Weber, in the 2003 election, says Durel won him over through his hard work and dedication to the job. "He probably works 80 to 90 hours a week," Armentor says. "I've been watching him. He's the only politician I know who outworks me."
Armentor has no intention of switching parties. "I'll always be a staunch Democrat," he says. "But I'm not a Democrat who's going to be against all things Republican. If somebody's doing the right thing as a Republican, I don't want to squander the influence of the Democrats right now by taking the position that only Democrats can do good and Republicans can't."
Frank Flynn, chairman of the Lafayette Parish Democratic Executive Committee, has a different take on Durel. He isn't convinced that Durel has actively involved the entire community in his decisions. As evidence, he points to the Nov. 7 election in which voters overwhelmingly shot down a sales tax initiative that was heavily pushed by Durel.
"If we take the last poll that was taken," Flynn says, "with reference to the last initiative of the Durel administration, the Democrats and the Republicans aren't happy. That's not an indictment of his entire administration. I mean the latest sampling of the pulse of the community is not favorable. That should be crystal clear."
In response to Armentor's "no-party party," Flynn also notes that the Democratic parish executive committee will likely issue a "statement of principle" at its next meeting declaring that its members should not publicly endorse or raise funds for Republican candidates. Flynn says as a member of the local Democratic leadership, Armentor should refrain from being so public with his support for a Republican ' even though no Democrat has surfaced to challenge Durel in the 2007 city-parish president's race.
Armentor doubts anyone will. "I really don't think he's going to have opposition," he says. "I mean, I've heard of nobody who's interested in running."
Armentor says that the most obvious candidate, Glenn Weber, who lost a close race to Durel in 2003, isn't interested in running again. Weber did not return calls for comment.
"I don't see Glenn Weber running, and I don't see anybody else on the horizon who is talking seriously about it," Armentor says. "We're one year out [from the election]. Frankly, this is the kind of race that you've got to start early. So, if Joey Durel has opposition next year, it'll be token opposition. I don't think anybody with real stature is going to stand up and run against Joey Durel."
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.
A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 from I-49 in Lafayette to Seigen Lane in Baton Rouge.
Jim Bernhard, who engineered the sale of The Shaw Group for $3 billion, recently has told several people involved in Democratic politics that he intends to run for governor in 2015.
A New Orleans levee board wants to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for decades of damage to our state’s coastline, but the Legislature may be poised to put the kibosh on the suit.
New standards curb elective induction
CVS stops tobacco sales
If an Acadia Parish fiddler misses a note while swatting a fly, will a St. Martinville accordionist learn “Ma ‘Tite Fille”?
(It's good, it's bad and it's just crazy)