Newell: Lots of people in public office jealous of Scott Walker's underdog campaign

Former WDSU anchor upsets incumbent with scrappy, small budget campaign

Newell Normand
October 14, 2019 - 4:50 pm

Amid a bevy of election results from Saturday night, one that will loom large in the minds of Jefferson Parish voters is former WDSU anchor and entrepreneur Scott Walker's ascension to an At-Large seat on the Jefferson Parish Council. Newell invited Scott onto the program Monday morning to talk about his campaign and his vision for Louisiana's most populous Parish.

"So we can say you're a politician now!" Newell joked. "It's the branding, baby it goes with the win! Congratulations on this huge victory, you were up against someone who's been in public office for a long, long time and ran a very non-traditional campaign, one that yielded huge results for you.

"Non-traditional would be the understatement of the week," Walker replied. "We didn't spend $100,000 on this campaign, which is unprecedented and incredible. It's a tribute to the people that I worked with, our volunteers and the people on our campaign team. It proves that real people still decide elections, and it doesn't matter who you have behind you - it matters how you get your message across and how you resonate and connect with people on the campaign trail. We went everywhere in Jefferson Parish and talked to as many people as we could. It was a long three and a half months, but our message was heard and it's great to have a resounding win like it was."

"What struck you as unique about this election?" Newell asked.

"The number of people from my opponent's base in Harahan and River Ridge that expressed displeasure at the current situation. They weren't happy with their representation, they felt like they weren't being heard. When I learned that, I knew that it was going to give us a good chance to do some things there and in other places in the Parish. If you look at his race four years ago, he had 70% of the vote and this time he had 59% in Harahan. That's a big difference, and I won in River Ridge, did really well in Metairie, did really well on the Westbank. To be able to do those things with the campaign we had was amazing. That was the most unique part, the dissension and lack of satisfaction from the incumbent. A lot of people told me, they want new faces, fresh blood. Here we are!"

Did he get a sense of arrogance and entitlement from his opponent?

"I don't want to say that - I didn't see a lot of arrogance on the campaign trail. Everywhere we went, we were in the same place. There were very few things that I went to that he didn't or the other way around. It was very respectful throughout the campaign, and we shook hands every time we met. I don't have a problem with him, I just think my message resonated louder, and people are ready for change. All we did was run as underdogs the entire time and gave ourselves the best chance to win."

"A lot of folks that have run for office are jealous of you," Newell said, "for being able to spend so little money and still win! We have a Council that is going to be really different for the first time in a long time. Your thoughts?"

"It has a chance to be a really great council, I'm really excited. I won't make any bones about it, my name recognition from being on TV here for a decade helped me tremendously. I'm not gonna pretend it didn't, but a lot of people said they missed me on TV and wanted to see me in this position. My opponent said, 'they wanted to elect someone with no experience, so they elected my opponent.' He didn't have experience when he was first elected. And I said it during the campaign - who says what the right experience is for a Parish-wide race? I'm a small business owner with 17 employees, I've run a media consulting firm, I'm in the community, I'm not inside the political bubble. My experience for that Parish-wide position definitely puts me in a good spot to make good decisions for the people of Jefferson Parish and not just be a rubber-stamp vote." 

Another race that caught Newell's attention was Cynthia Lee Sheng's runaway victory over John Young to become Jefferson Parish President. He asked Political Analyst Ron Faucheaux about that lopsided victory.

"There was a general sense that she would win for some time," Faucheaux said, "but a lot of people thought it could be fairly close and competitive. Her showing was really impressive, winning by an almost 21-point margin against someone that had high name recognition and pretty high approval ratings. That was a very, very impressive win."

"I was surprised, looking at the precint breakdown. Young won only seven precincts out 273 precincts reporting... it surprised me it was that consistent throughout the Parish." 

"When you win by that big a margin, it pulls a lot of skiffs and smaller boats with it and that's what we saw," Faucheaux agreed.

Hear the interviews with Scott Walker and Ron Faucheaux in the players below.

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