Black voters key in Delgado win
BY FAIMON A. ROBERTS III
Advocate staff writer
January 11, 2013
John Delgado’s win over Smokie Bourgeois in the Metro Council District 12 race on Dec. 8 was helped by the black vote in the district, the same segment that nearly kept Delgado out of the runoff in the first place, political consultant John Couvillon says.
Couvillon, who conducted polls for and advised the Delgado campaign, estimated Delgado in the Dec. 8 election received around 70 percent of the black vote in District 12, which includes Southdowns, Kenilworth, Valley Park, Concord Estates and Mayfair, among other neighborhoods.
Voting precincts in Mayfair and Valley Park are nearly 100 percent black, and Delgado got 65 percent and 78 percent of the votes in those precincts respectively, Couvillon said.
Delgado also won 62 percent of the precinct that includes Concord Estates, Couvillon said.
The Concord precinct is about 55 percent black, Couvillon said.
By contrast, Delgado squeaked by in Kenilworth (11 votes) and lost Southdowns by 10 percent, according to Couvillon’s analysis.
It was a different story in the Nov. 6 primary election. Delgado, despite having outspent Bourgeois and Democrat Rose Carey by thousands of dollars, barely made the runoff.
Carey, who is black, finished just 206 votes behind Delgado, who is white, out of more than 16,000 votes cast.
Valley Park and Mayfair each went overwhelmingly for Carey in the primary, Couvillon said.
Carey got 83 percent of the vote in Valley Park and 72 percent in Mayfair, he said.
“John got just enough in the black precincts to get into the runoff,” Couvillon said of Delgado. Couvillon added that he estimated Delgado needed to get at least 10 percent of the votes in those precincts to make the runoff.
Turnout was also key in the runoff — more than 9,000 fewer votes were cast in the runoff than in the primary.
Delgado said those precincts were central to his strategy.
“We identified where he was weak and where we were strong,” Delgado said. “We went out there.”
After Nov. 6, Delgado’s campaign focused its efforts on the precincts where they perceived there were votes to be had.
That included Valley Park, Mayfair and Concord Estates, he said.
“We knew in the general that they didn’t go for me, but they didn’t go for Smokie either,” Delgado said.
Delgado’s campaign went door-to-door, placed targeted phone calls and just “spent time there,” he said of his efforts in Valley Park.
“I went out there, I met with people in there,” he said. Specifically, he met with members of civic associations and religious leaders, he said.
Delgado also reached out to Carey, but the two never had a meeting, Couvillon said.
Delgado’s margin in the minority precincts did not go unnoticed by Bourgeois.
In an interview with WBRZ-TV the day after the race, Bourgeois said Delgado had “bought all the black vote.”
The accusation made Delgado bristle.
“It’s offensive,” he said. “I can only assume that he’s saying I paid people.”
The claim was an insult to both Delgado and the people who voted for him, he said.
The difference in the race was effort, Delgado said.
“It was the hard work of this campaign,” he said. “They are really talented at getting the message out.”
Faimon A. Roberts III covers city-parish government for The Advocate. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @faimon.
Editor’s note: This column was modified on Dec. 14, 2012, to correction the spelling of John Couvillon’s name. The Advocate regrets the error.