District 5 judge seat runoff set for Dec. 8

With all 630 precincts reporting Tuesday, Democratic Circuit Judge John Michael Guidry and Republican Circuit Judge Jeff Hughes are headed for a Dec. 8 runoff for the District 5 seat on the Louisiana Supreme Court.

Guidry captured 93,117 votes, or 27 percent, of 338,968 cast, with Hughes taking 71,910 votes, or 21 percent.

With all 266 precincts reporting, Republican incumbent Judge Mike McDonald, 66, led the sprint for his East Baton Rouge Parish seat on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal with 74,504 votes, or 49 percent of the 152,813 votes cast.

Baton Rouge lawyer Gideon Carter III, a 57-year-old Democrat, made the runoff with 47,512 votes, or 31 percent.

McDonald’s bid for a second 10-year term on the Baton Rouge-based appellate court also was contested by Republican Judge Trudy White, 56, of the 19th Judicial District Court.

That 1st Circuit, 2nd District, Subdistrict 1 seat is chosen by voters in Zachary, Baker, Central and eastern Baton Rouge.

Democratic Judge William C. Dupont, of the 18th Judicial District Court, Plaquemine, led a four-candidate run for the 1st Circuit, 1st District, Division B seat that will be vacated by Circuit Judge Jimmy Gaidry in January.

In complete, but unofficial returns, Dupont received 71,767 votes, or 39 percent, of the 186,344 ballots cast in the division.

Former state Rep. Mitch Theriot, a Raceland Republican, trailed Dupont with 62,730 votes, or 34 percent, to make the runoff.

Gaidry could not run for re-election because he turned 70. State law does not permit people 70 or older to run for judicial office.

Their Division includes Ascension, Assumption, Iberville, Lafourche, Pointe Coupee, St. Mary, Terrebonne and West Baton Rouge parishes.

The other candidates were Republicans J. Christopher Erny, a prosecutor from Houma, and Mark D. Plaisance, a former Baker city judge, now living in Thibodaux.

The Supreme Court race will be decided by voters in East and West Baton Rouge, Livingston, Ascension, Iberville, Pointe Coupee and East and West Feliciana parishes. The primary election attracted more than $2 million in campaign contributions.

Guidry, 50, is attempting to become the first black Supreme Court justice from District 5. He is in his 15th year as an appellate judge on the state’s 1st Circuit. The Baton Rouge resident also has served as a state senator, state representative and member of both the Greater Baton Rouge Port Commission and Greater Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport Commission.

“My job is to apply the Constitution and laws without fear or favor,” Guidry said during his campaign.

Hughes, 60, of the 1st Circuit, emphasized his 22 years as a jurist, first with the 21st Judicial District Court, then with the 1st Circuit. He is attempting for the second time to become the first Republican justice to serve on the Supreme Court from the 13-year-old district.

The Walker resident lost a bid in 2008 to unseat Democratic Justice Kitty Kimball, now the state’s chief justice.

In this year’s campaign, however, Hughes repeatedly emphasized his conservative views, often describing himself as “pro-life, pro-gun and pro-traditional marriage.”

At least once, he also added that he favors the death penalty.

The winner of the runoff will serve only the last six years of Kimball’s current 10-year term. Kimball announced early this year that she will retire in January.

Other high-court candidates included Republican Judges Toni Higginbotham, 66, of the 1st Circuit; Jewel “Duke” Welch, 59, also of the 1st Circuit; Tim Kelley, 58, of the 19th District; Bill Morvant, 55, of the 19th District.

Two Baton Rouge attorneys — Mary Olive Pierson, 68, a Democrat, and Jeffry Sanford, 47, no party — also sought election to the Supreme Court.

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