Fred Jones sweeped nearly all of the precincts in district 16, but fell 22 votes short of election in the District 16 State Representatives race, in balloting Saturday.
Jones bested three other candidates polling 50 percent or more at 36 of 37 precincts in District 16. Jones tolled 48% of the Morehouse Parish Ballots and 51 % of the Ouachita Parish voters.
Jones will face Monroe City School Board member Daryll Berry who tallied 18% of the vote in Morehouse Parish and 26% of the vote in Ouachita Parish.
Two other candidates in the race were Alicia Calvin and Charles Henry Bradford.
Jones, son of former State Representative and former State Senator Charles D. Jones, ran a textbook campaign the promised a sensitivity to the needs of the poor and fiscal responsibility.
In forums and advertisements he said he wanted to insure that healthcare was always available to the poor and that the criminal justice system focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment.
Berry promised to represent the people and work to bring jobs to the district.
District 16 was a specially drawn district to insure increase minority representation in Baton Rouge. It includes the Booker T community, parts of North Monroe, and 22 precincts in Bastrop.
Among the 25,496 voters in the district, there are 4,456 white Republican voters who had to choose a state representative from four liberal black candidates.
Berry’s campaign finance reports showed he either received donations from white Republican leaders or persons have done business with the Monroe City School Board with his vote and consent. That led Berry to believe that he could win the race if he maintained the strong support he received in Booker T. which is his school board district, plus the support of white Republicans.
That plan didn’t work because Jones swept 36 of the 37 precincts, including North Monroe precincts with as much as 40% Republican registration. Jones carried Berry’s school board district precincts by over 50 percent.
Voting tallies showed that at several of the Republican precincts Republican voters voted for state officials and constitutional amendments, but many did not vote in the District 16 Representative’s race.
Ouachita Parish princinct 8 (Louise Williams Library) cast a total of 619 votes in state wide elections, however only 491 ballots were cast in the District 16 race. Twenty-one percent of those who actually went to vote chose not to vote for any Democratic candidate.
A similar pattern followed at Ouachita Parish precinct 9 (Ouachita Parish High School). The voters at this precinct cast 516 votes in the governor’s race, but only 436 voted in District 16. Sixteen percent of the voters in a heavy Republican precinct chose to ignore all four Democratic candidates.
The road to victory for Berry is to organize a ground game in his district and not count on Republican support. In the Saturday’s voting, Jones swept all of Berry’s strongest supporters. If he plans to win, he can’t neglect his base in pursuit of Republican support that may or may not vote for him. He will need to convince the people in his district, which apparently he has not, why he is the most qualified candidate to represent them.
For Jones, the path is different. The electorate has already indicated that he is favored at 36 of 37 precincts. He does not have to sell the Jones Brand, he is perceived as the better candidate, if the vote tallies are an indicator, he has to organize an even better ground game to focus on early voting and election day turnout.
Both candidates will need effective ground games. However, ground games are expensive because they entail enrolling a small army of staff, door knockers, drivers and a phone bank.
Each candidate is now digging in for a month of fundraising and activity, that will culminate in the November general election.