Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Months away from the fall contest, a campaign in north Lafayette is already getting ugly. By Walter Pierce
If politics really is a contact sport, it’s boxing. And three and a half months out from the October election, the gloves are already coming off in District 44.
A couple of weeks ago Vincent Pierre, a 47-year-old Lafayette businessman, announced his intention to seek the seat held by first-term Rep. Rickey Hardy, a former school board member. Before Hardy won the seat in a runoff four years ago, it was held by Wilfred Pierre, Vincent’s uncle. A longtime former Lafayette city councilman, Wilfred Pierre held the state House seat for 16 years, or four terms, beginning in 1992.
Literally within minutes of posting a workaday story at theind.com on Monday of last week announcing the younger Pierre’s candidacy, the comment section started overflowing with vitriol, beginning with some pretty serious accusations against Pierre involving his family, his past employment and his relationship to his uncle and a certain imbroglio involving a grant-supported program Wilfred Pierre operated in Lafayette. I’m disinclined to repeat those accusations here because, as I write this on a holiday-shortened week, we’re still trying to ascertain whether there’s any truth to them.
Vincent Pierre had an opportunity, however, to clear this up with me on Friday morning but he balked. He has not yet demanded — or asked or pleaded — that we remove those comments from our website.
This fracas between Hardy and Pierre — or more properly between their supporters — goes much deeper than this fall’s election; it springs from a fissure in Lafayette’s black community, especially its leadership. On the one side you have former City-Parish Councilman Chris Williams, whom Hardy defeated in that November 2007 runoff to replace Wilfred Pierre. Williams, of course, was a key player in the fiasco that was the Lafayette Housing Authority, which Hardy helped expose. Williams, it can be fairly said, is part of an old-school political persuasion that assumes an “us against them” posture — “them” being the white political structure in Lafayette. He played this up famously in the fight over renaming Willow Street in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s honor several years ago, resorting to sophomoric acts of graffiti in the council auditorium.
On the other side there’s Hardy, whose campaign slogan in 2007, “The Man for All the People,” at once underscored his willingness to reach across the racial aisle and highlighted Williams’ confrontational style.
Overall, District 44 is 66 percent black. Hardy won that runoff against Williams with 57 percent of the vote, but he captured 77 percent of the vote in the seven precincts with the heaviest majority of white voters. In the 11 precincts that are predominately black, Williams, who in the weeks leading into the runoff picked up the endorsement of not only the also-rans in the primary but the outgoing Pierre as well, won 57 to 43. Hardy, meanwhile, was endorsed by several members of Lafayette’s legislative delegation, most of them white, as well as City-Parish President Joey Durel, whose battles with then-Councilman Williams were legend. Joey Durel will not win the “District 44 Man of the Year” award. Not this year. Not ever. His endorsement of Hardy in 2007 could have been an albatross, but it most certainly helped Hardy capture that sizable majority of the white vote, which was likely the factor that figured most importantly in his victory over Williams.
We can assume that Hardy will again be endorsed by all the rich whiteys in Lafayette as the election draws closer.
Consequently, and especially after Hardy helped topple the definitely dysfunctional and possibly criminal LHA, bringing down Williams with it, the former school board member and now state rep has been slapped with the “Uncle Tom” label. It’s unfair and unfortunate, but, as they say, it is what it is.
Can this race get uglier? Yes.
Will it? The columnist in me, for whom political bickering is manna from heaven, says, “I hope so.”
Attorneys, judges and others interviewed by LaPolitics expect 15 to 20 district judge races this year.
"I feel like I'm under siege," an attorney said recently over drinks at Galatoire's Bistro in Baton Rouge. "We all do. Every time I turn around somebody wants a check. District attorney races. The judges. They're killing us."
As a requirement for running for Congress in the 6th District, former Gov. Edwin Edwards has filed his financial disclosure statement with the U.S. House showing his income in 2013 totaling $242,787.
Unlike those swindled by Bernie Madoff, the victims of Texas businessman Robert Allen Stanford’s Ponzi scheme won’t be getting any relief from the Securities Investor Protection Corp.’s emergency fund after a recent appellate court ruling.
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Acadiana's Top 50 Private Companies
It would be an understatement to say Schumacher Group had a challenging year in 2013.
Hampton Toyota has been serving Acadiana as the premier Toyota dealership for more than 10 years. And now, the glossy Johnston Street dealership is looking forward to a makeover.
Even when Floyd Degueyter is on “vacation” he’s hard at work.
As the second largest metal heat treating company in the country, Analytic Stress Relieving Inc. has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 1979.
When the Prohibition era came to an end in 1933, Joseph R. Streva saw an opportunity to make a little extra money to supplement his day job.
When a hurricane hits, Brent Mouton doesn’t run. The convenience store chain owner is proof that the challenges of mother nature can almost break a business, but Mouton learned to grow out of temporary closure from near devastation in 2002 and of lost potential revenue.
By launching a Super PAC to end all Super PACs, our Top 50 keynote speaker hopes to change the game in Washington.
The 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year Symposium is new to the line up and will debut in early December.
Oil Center-based private facility extends its offerings with special events venue in failed women’s store.
One year later, is his expansion plan paying off?
Newspaper industry insiders question John Georges’ expansion plan.
How the U.S. has gotten itself into another fine mess
The Heymann Center was transformed into a culinary adventure in mid-June for the EatLafayette kick-off event, A Taste of Lafayette, and for the third consecutive year, a sellout crowd filled the Cajundome Convention Center June 19 to hear LEDA chief Gregg Gothreaux’s State of the Economy report.
A look at recent hirings, promotions and other announcements from Acadiana's business community.
Anne Pyle puts a bow on a stellar, expectations-defying career with her latest venture.
Carnitas, polenta and a verde sauce create layers of a Latin classic
Prince George turns 1 today; crash victims' bodies headed home; homeless attacked in New Mexico and more national and international news for Tuesday, July 22, 2014.
The boho vibe goes feminine.
Three bedroom traditional or three bedroom ranch style home
The legal challenge is part of a continuing struggle over Common Core, which has become controversial since the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the standards in 2010.
The company currently has 10 branches throughout Louisiana, including an Ambassador Caffery location which opened last year.
The lone Democrat to announce he's running for governor, state Rep. John Bel Edwards, criticized Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal's budgeting tactics as "running the state like a big Ponzi scheme."
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
State police have arrested a 42-year-old Kaplan man in the July 7 hit and run fatality crash that killed a bicyclist on Louisiana Highway 92 near Milton.