"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."
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Odell Beckham on the catch; chaos in Ferguson; snowstorm set to snarl travel and more national and international news for Tuesday, November 25, 2014.
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.
The Ethics Board gives the lame duck Youngsville mayor permission to offer a sweet parting gift to the community he’s presided over for three terms.
The money came through a general obligation bond sale Thursday.
A legend in the Acadiana Oil Patch, Comeaux died Monday, Nov. 17.
With a growing number of alleged sexual assault victims coming out against Bill Cosby in recent weeks, upcoming projects have been canned by NBC and Netflix, but that won’t affect the once-loved comedian and actor’s scheduled performance in Lafayette.
The Baltimore Ravens' retooled secondary had no trouble against a rookie quarterback at home. This week, however, their task is far more challenging: stopping Drew Brees on the road in New Orleans.