Dupont, Theriot face off for appellate seat

Former state Rep. Mitch Theriot, who ran unsuccessfully for an open seat on the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal in 1998, now finds himself in a runoff with state District Judge William Dupont for a soon-to-be-vacant spot on the Baton Rouge-based appellate court.

“Second time will be the charm, hopefully,” said Theriot, 49, of Raceland, who placed second in the four-candidate Nov. 6 primary behind Dupont.

Dupont, 61, of Plaquemine, is banking on his 22 years of judicial experience when voters return to the polls Dec. 8.

“Try to get the message out that I’m the most qualified person in this race,” Dupont said of his campaign strategy leading up to the runoff election.

Dupont, a Democrat, received 71,767 votes in the primary, while Theriot, a Republican, collected 62,730 votes. Two other Republicans — Chris Erny, of Houma, and Mark Plaisance, of Thibodaux — garnered 36,453 votes and 15,394 votes, respectively.

Dupont, an 18th Judicial District Court judge for the past eight years, said he is not concerned that more than 114,000 votes were cast for Republican candidates in the primary.

“As a judge, Democrat or Republican is not an issue in the courtroom,” he said. “The law is blind as to party affiliation.”

Theriot, who served in the state Legislature from 1992-2000 as a Democrat, said he hopes to capture the lion’s share of the Republican vote cast in the runoff.

“We (the three GOP candidates in the primary) carved up geographically our own home base,” he said. “I would think their votes would tend to come my way.”

Dupont and Theriot are vying for the 1st District, Division B seat held by Circuit Judge Edward “Jimmy” Gaidry, of Houma, who is retiring at year’s end.

The district includes the parishes of Ascension, Assumption, Iberville, Lafourche, Pointe Coupee, St. Mary, Terrebonne and West Baton Rouge. There are about 290,000 registered voters in the district.

The election is for a 10-year term on the Appeal Court.

Early voting is through Dec. 1.

The 18th Judicial District Court, where Dupont is the current chief judge, covers West Baton Rouge, Iberville and Pointe Coupee parishes.

Theriot, who has been practicing law for 25 years and serves as an appointed municipal court magistrate in the Lafourche Parish towns of Golden Meadow and Lockport, said his thorough knowledge of the law would be an asset on the 1st Circuit.