BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The East Baton Rouge District 8 School Board election ended on a cliffhanger Tuesday night.
Candidate Connie Bernard announced today she wants to keep that seat, despite withdrawing from the race back in September.
The top two candidates, Republican Connie Bernard and Democrat Katie Kennison are headed for the run-off in December.
Katie Kennison was very close behind her in the race.
“It was basically a three-way split with Connie Bernard actually getting the most votes and Kennison, just less than 100 votes behind her with the best-funded candidate, the independent, in third,” stated LSU Political Communication Associate Professor Dr. Joshua Darr.
He said this comes even after Bernard’s viral moment with Gary Chambers. He called her out for, what appeared to be, shopping online during a school board meeting to change the name of an EBR school to a less racially charged name.
“An incumbent like Connie Bernard, who I think was a particularly famous incumbent —
it’s an uphill battle to try to take out an incumbent, even if that incumbent has dropped out,” Darr explained. “The two things that matter the most are party I.D. and name recognition.”
According to the Secretary of State’s office she never officially dropped out of the race. There is a very formal and involved process for removing your name from the ballot and she didn’t take those steps, so voters were still able to cast ballots in her favor.
“She can easily say the voters said they wanted me, so I’m back,” said Darr.
That’s exactly what happened. Bernard explains in a statement:
Connie Bernard, District 8 School Board member
“My first thought when I woke up this morning was an incredible sense of gratitude for those supporters… I have decided to remain in the race for School Board, District 8. This was not my intention when I offered to withdraw in the primary election. However, it is clear that the voters in my district prefer the type of representation I have offered during my time on the Board.”
“I believe that Connie Bernard spent $3 after she dropped out and Kennison spent a grand total of zero. So if people tell you money is everything in politics, you can use this race as an example,” stated Darr.
Her opponent Democrat Katie Kennison said in a statement:
“I‘m grateful for everyone who got out there and voted yesterday. I joined this race purely to serve, and I’m looking forward to the next phase of the election. The bottom line is that I hope to help school children succeed, and I would be honored to carry out the duties of being a school board member.”Katie Kennison, District 8 School Board member candidate
“It’s a really interesting case and I don’t know how it’s going to end up, so we’ll keep following it, I guess,” added Darr.
Republican Connie Bernard brought in more than 5,800 votes. Democrat Katie Kennison was only 98 votes behind her with less than 5,700 votes. Independent Joseph Britt brought in around five thousand votes.
The runoff election will take place on Dec. 10.