Mardi Gras was barely over and Ash Wednesday begun when the City Council District A race reignited. Virginia Blanque, the Mid-City businesswoman and activist who ran third in the Feb. 6 primary, endorsed the second-place finisher, fellow Republican and former District A councilman Jay Batt. A statement released by the Batt campaign quoted Blanque as saying, "Jay doesn't just share my values as a fellow Republican. He shares a common vision for the people of District A and for the future of our city. ... I didn't leap to make this decision immediately after the primary. I gave it considerable thought and reexamined both of the candidates and their positions on the issues that matter most. Jay Batt is clearly the best choice."
Within hours, primary frontrunner Susan Guidry, a Democrat, fired back: "I am shocked given that Virginia Blanque's campaign message — like mine — was that Jay Batt represents the politics of the past and that we can't effect change by recycling a politician we previously voted out of office. ...This endorsement reeks of political dealmaking." Meanwhile, leaders of the "Anybody But Batt" grassroots campaign which helped oust Batt in 2006 announced they had additional lawn signs and bumper stickers (firstname.lastname@example.org) because "apparently, the signs are stolen as soon as they are put up."
It was the latest development in a rancorous race between the two top candidates, who spent the days before the primary attacking each other in mailers. Guidry, who is new to politics, finished with 44 percent of the vote, while Batt carried 39 percent and Blanque 15 percent. Batt will need more than two-thirds of Blanque's votes to beat Guidry in the Mar. 6 runoff. — Allman