It was a hard-fought campaign.
The race for Marion County Judge had become heated in the months leading up to Election Day on March 6. Three Republicans – Leward LaFleur, Steven Shaw and Kim Smith – were campaigning for the office, and it’s accurate to say that mud was slung in several different directions.
But this is not about all of the rumors and candidate-bashing. It’s about one person’s masterful campaign skills.
LaFleur won the race with 718 votes. Shaw came in second with 420 votes, and Smith was third with 186. The general thinking was that the race would be closer than that, particularly between LaFleur and Smith. But one person simply out-campaigned the others.
LaFleur was everywhere during the race. Voters saw pictures of him on Facebook late at night, hammering signs in yards. He gave several media interviews – seemingly whenever asked. He attended and spoke at political forums. He posted shots of himself at the Concerned Citizens of Crestwood meeting, at Mims Chapel, at Lone Oak Baptist Church at Lake O’ The Pines, at the Jefferson Lions Club, driving in the Mardi Gras parade, at the Bayou Bakery and Café, at the Mims Volunteer Fire Department, as a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army, as a volunteer at Toys for Tots – and that’s just for starters.
LaFleur was also known for going door to door in the county, asking people for support. He was the ultimate baby-kissing, hand-shaking politician of old, while also using social media to his advantage. His short videos that were posted online, in which he talked about why he wanted to be the next judge, came across as both poised and friendly. (They could have easily come across as stiff and cheesy.)
Along with posting shots of himself campaigning, he also made everyone aware of sample ballots and polling locations. He even gave his personal phone number to anyone who might have a question.
He had koozies made, for goodness’ sake.
It also probably didn’t hurt that LaFleur’s “campaign manager,” his toddler son Tripp, adorably wore a shirt that read, “Please vote for my daddy.”
It remains to be seen if the candidate will keep up this enthusiasm for the job once he takes his position. And while some critics felt he doesn’t have the experience to be county judge, he certainly had the campaign skills – and then some — to land it.