Nearing the end of a relatively lackluster campaign, Fortunato made headlines and raised eyebrows by saying that embattled Parish President Mike Yenni was right remain in office, despite calls for him to resign following reports that he'd been involved in a sexting relationship with a teenager. During a televised WDSU debate against interim sheriff Joe Lopinto, Fortunato also went on record supporting Yenni's reelection next year.Maybe he is putting a lot of stock in this UNO poll that showed him with a 16 point lead. Most people aren't, though.
The pollsters noted that Lopinto has closed the gap since that time, picking up a significant percentage of voters who had been undecided last fall. But Fortunato holds an overwhelming advantage among west bank voters, the survey found, leading Lopinto by some 30 percentage points there.In any case, he doesn't seem too worried about touching any live wires. Same goes for this, I guess.
The Lopinto campaign said that the automated UNO poll, known as an interactive voice response survey, "did not follow best practices for accuracy" and did not call cellphones or screen for likely voters.
Fortunato told the students he would not tolerate racial profiling under his administration when asked about policing difference in black and white neighborhoods.Fortunato is gonna try real real hard not to do any racism. That's probably the best you can expect from a JP Sheriff anyway.
"It's important that you know that I'm going to do my absolute best, that when you get out of your cars and are walking through the neighborhood, some police officer is not going to come around and decide to mess with you. That's not going to happen when I become sheriff."
Not that Lopinto sounds much different. These two candidates seem to agree on a lot of stuff. At the very least, the both have more sense than Steve Scalise. Their differences are more about the bizarre follies and inside baseball of parish politics. This Advocate article parses that as a philosophical difference in approach to the office but I think that is mostly campaign code-speak.
Fortunato and Lopinto have made such disparate pitches to voters that it sometimes seems like they are running for different offices.Basically Lopinto is the "insider" at the moment insofar as he is Newell Normand's anointed and therefore receiving favor from most of Normand's network of allies.. which is pretty substantial. Fortunato is the "outsider" at the moment which just means that he would like to be the person benefiting from the favor of the people Lopinto currently is. If he becomes Sheriff, this will undoubtedly happen for him.
Fortunato has portrayed himself as a no-nonsense, old-fashioned lawman who will put public safety above everything.
Lopinto likens the job to being chief executive officer of a major company, pointing to the agency's $125 million budget and 1,500 employees. He cites historic lows in crime in the parish and says there's only so much a sheriff can do to prevent certain crimes.
Campaign finance reports suggest that Lopinto has emerged as the establishment favorite, receiving contributions from several local officeholders, law firms and contractors that do business with the largest law enforcement organization in the state. He also is supported by a number of political action committees as well as businessman Shane Guidry, the biggest Republican contributor in Louisiana politics, who has given Lopinto $75,000 through his various companies and raised another $50,000 for him.
Anyway, right now he's kind of acting like he's got it in the bag. At least, that's how I read that Yenni endorsement. Maybe he's just careless. Or dumb. Which is to say, maybe he's Sheriff material after all.
Update: See what I mean about not believing that UNO poll?
But a third-party poll from JMC Analytics and Polling conducted March 10 reveals a much-tighter race, with Lopinto ahead of Fortunato by just 2 percentage points.