OUR OPINION: A twist in the DA race

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Ascension, Assumption and St. James parishes got their first new District Attorney in nearly 20 years Thursday about 3 1/2 weeks before anyone expected.

When former state senator Louis Lambert said Friday morning he would remove himself from the runoff race with Assistant District Attorney Ricky Babin, heads perked up everywhere in the 23rd Judicial District.

Lambert pulled in 28 percent of the vote, coming in second to Babin’s 35 percent in the recent primary election. With many votes back on the table after the defeats of former Judge Pegram Mire and Assistant District Attorney Chuck Long, Lambert appeared to be reasonably well positioned in the runoff.

History shows very few candidates pull out of an election they think they can win, but Lambert offered a different take on his surprising withdrawal.

With a poll predicting the Nov. 4 runoff would be intensely competitive, Lambert said he withdrew because of the divisiveness the campaign might cause, primarily in Ascension Parish.

Lambert and Babin have been head to head in a race for Falterman’s seat for roughly two years, and certainly there was no outpouring of love between the camps. We would not go so far as to call theirs a match between Pitt bulls, but bare knuckles fighting is apropos.

It should be noted Lambert and Babin, as well as Mire and Long, are all from Ascension Parish. The talent in this quartet of attorneys running for the DA was extraordinary, a fine reflection on the parish. But, Lambert’s point is well taken. Four highly qualified candidates from the same parish running for a tri-parish job certainly narrowed the voter pool in their home parish, and ratcheted up the competition there. Lambert’s feeling that the intensity of an already long and hard fought battle would only increase and take a familial toll in Ascension during the runoff bears credence.

We accept Louis Lambert’s heartfelt decision, thank him for his worthy campaign, and congratulate him as a giant contributor to the success enjoyed by Ascension Parish and the region.

And, we congratulate Ricky Babin, a man of exceptional talent who has proved himself prepared for the job of 23rd Judicial District Attorney.

Although some may question what the outcome would have been in a Babin/Lambert runoff, the voters, in a sense, had the final word in the primary by giving Babin a 2,170 vote, or 7 percent lead over Lambert.

Now the campaign is behind us, and a new era begins 23rd Judicial Distrct.