Babin, Lambert head to DA runoff

Aaron Looney

Current First Assistant District Attorney Ricky Babin and former state Sen. Louis Lambert will meet in a runoff for the 23rd Judicial District Attorney’s office after placing as the top two vote-getters in Saturday’s primary election, according to unofficial results from the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office.

The runoff will be decided during the Nov. 4 presidential election.

The race featured four candidates - two current assistant district attorneys, a retired district judge and a former state senator - each looking to succeed outgoing District Attorney Anthony Falterman, who chose not to seek reelection after 18 years as district attorney.

With all 105 district precincts reporting Saturday night, Babin finished atop the total with 11,540 votes, or 35 percent. Lambert  finished second with 9.370 votes, or 28 percent.

Finishing third was former District Judge Pegram Mire (D-Donaldsonville) with 6,800 votes, or 20 percent. Current Assistant District Attorney and Donaldsonville City Attorney Charles “Chuck” 

Long finished fourth with 5,476 votes, or 17 percent.

The district includes Ascension, Assumption and St. James parishes.

“This is amazing,” Babin said. “I want to thank everyone who has supported me throughout this campaign and hope they will continue to support me in the runoff. We ran a clean campaign and tonight, that  hard work paid off.”

Babin said that while he finished atop the primary voting, he did not plan to rest on his laurels.

“We ran first tonight by a big margin, but it’s not over,” Babin said during his campaign-night gathering at Palazzo Bernardo in  Donaldsonville. “I’ve got 30 days of this left. We can’t stop 

now. We’ve got to get out there and get the word out in these next 30 days.”

Lambert, who gathered with family, friends and supporters at Bernadette’s, located behind The Cabin Restaurant in Burnside, said that Saturday’s results showed disapproval of the current district attorney’s office.

“Sixty-five percent of voters in the district have said they’re not satisfied with the policies of the current DA’s office,” he said. “You have to get that in order to get a mandate, so those 

numbers say a lot that people are ready for change.”

Lambert said that with only about 35 percent of voters turning out Saturday, the Nov. 4 runoff will likely double those numbers.

“I think we’ll have an entirely different voter base come Nov. 4,” Lambert said. “I feel that gives me a golden opportunity to go out and aggressively see people and articulate what I consider to be 

the issues.”

Lambert has stressed that, if elected, he would hire full-time criminal prosecutors to eliminate a backlog of criminal cases and to cut down on what he said was excessive plea bargaining by the 

district attorney’s office. He also wants to enhance the inner workings of the office by upgrading technology and adding new departments to handle cases involving child predators and Internet 

crimes.

Saturday, Lambert also said he was pulling a television campaign advertisement attacking the current DA’s office after it came to light that a Zachary man shown in footage in the ad was being 

portrayed as a sex offender when he has never been charged with such a crime.

Lambert’s political consultant, George Kennedy, said that everyone featured in the ad signed a waiver and was paid. Kennedy said the video was “stock footage” shot years ago and that there was no intent to harm 39-year-old Jay Robinson.

Lambert said he was unaware of the situation until Thursday and asked Kennedy to pull the ad.

Mire, who watched poll numbers come in at an election-night gathering at Pelican Point, said that an approximate 35-percent voter turnout Saturday hurt his chances of making the runoff.

“I thought that the low numbers showed that people may not be concerned enough in our parishes to go out and vote,” Mire said. “Other than that, I had no disappointments whatsoever.”

Mire said he felt he would garner most of his votes in Ascension Parish, which he described as “the area that really looks at qualifications and not an area that votes for other reasons.”

Long did not return calls for comment Saturday.

Although Mire announced Saturday that he would endorse Babin, both Long and Mire announced Monday through a joint press release that they will endorse Babin in the runoff.

Mire said Saturday night that he felt Babin was the best candidate remaining in the race.

“I wish them both the best of luck, but I’m voting for Ricky,” Mire said. “I think he’s a fine young man. He’s a fiscal conservative and I believe he’s the best person running come November.”

Speaking of the endorsement Saturday night, Babin said that Mire agreed that the best interest of the district should be taken into consideration.

“He said that it’s not about him or not about me. It’s about our district and our judicial system,” Babin said of Mire’s comments, made in a telephone conversation prior to Babin speaking.

Breaking down the votes by parish, Babin won Ascension Parish by earning 6,035 votes, with all 61 precincts reporting. Mire finished second with 5,626 votes, followed by Lambert with 5,454 votes and Long with 3,433 votes.

Babin also claimed the absentee vote in Ascension Parish with 555 votes. Mire finished second with 498 votes, Lambert in third with 493 votes and Long in fourth place with 263 votes.

With all 23 precincts reporting in Assumption Parish, Babin claimed victory with 2,791 votes. Long finished second with 1,163 votes, followed by Lambert with 1,312 votes and Mire with 699 votes.

With all 21 precincts reporting, Babin edged Lambert by 110 votes in St. James Parish, 2,714 to 2,604. Long finished third with 880 votes  in St. James, followed by Mire with 475 votes.