Rep. Ralph Abraham’s campaign for governor of Louisiana is boasting about the endorsements of a local official who caused a stir with a campaign sign evoking the state’s lynching past and a mayor who last week downplayed a racist meme shared by his town’s police chief.
Abraham, a Republican, released a list of some 100 endorsements — many of them from local party officials — on Wednesday, a day after his two opponents, Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, and self-financing businessman Eddie Risponse, a fellow Republican, each reported having more than $10 million in cash on hand.
The list included former Rapides Parish Police Juror Jamie Floyd, who apologized last year after local residents called out his campaign sign that showed a monkey and read, “A few of my ancestors may have swung by their necks but none swung by their tails.” (Police jurors are akin to county commissioners in Louisiana.)
“In the ‘60s and ‘70s that is something that was a racist comment that was used quite often,” community member Michael Kennedy told KALB-TV.
Abraham also touted the endorsement of Estherwood Mayor Donald Popp, who last week shrugged off questions about a meme the village’s new police chief shared in 2017, which showed a white woman drowning her daughter in a bath tub with the caption “When your daughters (sic) first crush is a little negro boy.”
The chief, Wayne Welsh, was assistant chief at the time and was suspended from the force without pay for two weeks. In November, Welsh was elected chief after running unopposed, The Times-Picayune reported.
Popp told CNN last week that he didn’t believe Welsh’s racist conduct posed an issue for Estherwood.
“As the new mayor I don’t see any problems or foresee any future problems with him,” Popp said. “I was hoping this would have been taken care of.”
Abraham also listed the endorsement of conservative pundit Louis R. Avallone, the chairman of the Caddo Republican Executive Parish Committee, who in 2017 wrote an op-ed bemoaning that the majority-black city of Shreveport was unlikely to elect a white mayor.
Avallone even compared the Jim Crow legal prohibitions against blacks voting — let alone holding office — to the plight of white candidates.
“You know, there was a time where a black candidate could not possibly have been elected mayor of Shreveport because of the color of their skin,” he wrote in the Shreveport Times. “Have we really progressed as a society – is it any better – that today it’s merely a different color, instead?”