Could Next Mayor-President Be a Physician?

Could Next Mayor-President Be a Physician?

With Mayor-President Kip Holden in his third term and planning to run for lieutenant governor, speculation has already turned to the race for Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge in 2016.

Names being mentioned include Sen. Sharon Broome, Metro Council members Joel Boé, John Delgado, and Tara Wicker, and Holden’s chief aide, William Daniel.

Louisiana has become a Republican state.  Today, Republicans hold every single statewide elected office and a majority of the Louisiana House, Senate, Public Service Commission, and Supreme Court.  However, East Baton Rouge Parish is far less predictable.  While Republicans hold four parishwide offices — Sheriff, Assessor, Clerk of Court, and Coroner — President Obama carried the parish by 10,000, even as Mitt Romney carried Louisiana in a landslide.

Pollster John Couvillion said the parish will be about 46 percent black by the time of the race for Mayor-President and that the likely winner would be someone who can cross traditional voting boundaries.  For Republicans, that could mean turning to a physician.

Some political experts say a physician has a five percent edge over other candidate, thanks to the fact that physicians are one of the country’s most trusted groups.

According to the Gallup polling organization, physicians have a positive rating of 70 percent, compared to policemen, 58 percent; clergy, 52 percent; journalists, 24 percent; governors, 20 percent; lawyers, 19 percent; Senators, 14 percent; members of Congress, 10 percent, and car salesmen, 8 percent.  In Louisiana, Republican physicians hold three of the six seats in Congress — Dr. Charles Boustany, Dr. Bill Cassidy, and Dr. John Fleming.

Here in Baton Rouge, the best-known Republican physician is parish coroner Dr. Beau Clark, who defeated the incumbent coroner in 2011.  Since then, Clark has gotten high marks from law enforcement and the judiciary.

The Baton Rouge native graduated from St. Michael Catholic School, Louisiana Tech, and the LSU Medical School.  He practices emergency medicine and has been medical director of the State Police SWAT Team and the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office SWAT team.  He and his wife Vanessa have two children and attend St. Jude.

Law enforcement and the judiciary are happy because of Clark’s day-to-day performance of the work of his office, including prompt autopsies, determining cause of death, and compassionate handling of civil commitments.  It may seem like mundane work, but for the justice system, it is essential.  Clark has been credited for organizing a first-class coroner’s office and for working with the Louisiana Coroners Association to upgrade the profession statewide. One advocate for Clark said, “Beau Clark is known for two things: Doing the right thing and doing things right.  For a parish like East Baton Rouge, where the people don’t trust politicians, a physician who’s liked and trusted might just be a strong contender.”

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