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Democrat Patrick Williams runs up GOP support for future race - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Democrat Patrick Williams runs up GOP support for future race

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SHREVEPORT, La -

He's not officially in the race for Shreveport mayor next year. But Democrat Patrick Williams -- seen by insiders as the frontrunner -- is banking some money Thursday evening with a fundraiser, thanks to some hefty support from Republicans.

Williams has made a name for himself as a state representative, in part by walking more than 200 miles from Shreveport to Baton Rouge at the start of legislative sessions to raise awareness for Autism other causes. Next, Williams could be poised to march through next year's mayoral election -- if he runs.

"No, no one's decided. Who's decided?" Williams asks.

He says the fundraiser at Shreveport's Hilton Hotel is for his current office as state representative, though he's not up for re-election to that office until 2015. But, of the money he's raising Thursday, Williams says, "This is just a campaign account. So it could be used for either one of those campaigns."

That fundraiser has some impressive backers. The list of hosts on the invitation includes prominent Democrats like former Mayor Keith Hightower, Councilman Joe Shyne, and Pastor Harry Blake. But there's also a who's who of local Republicans -- Sheriff Steve Prator, State Senator Barrow Peacock, Caddo Commissioners John Escude and David Cox (himself a former mayoral candidate), and fellow state Representatives Henry Burns and Alan Seabaugh.

"We obviously don't agree on everything," Seabugh says of Williams, a House colleague. "But he's somebody that we can always talk to and work out differences for the betterment of Shreveport."

"You know what? People are ready for this," WIlliams says of his crossover support. "I think that's a testament again to me being able to work with everybody, because that's what it's all about."

One opponent Williams would face for mayor is fellow Democrat Sam Jenkins, who says he's also worked across party lines as a city councilman.

"It's not something new for us. We're not looking for some sort of political advantage with it," Jenkins says. "We know that if the city's going to move forward, everybody has to have a hand in it." 

But with the absence of any known interest from Republicans to run for Shreveport Mayor, political analyst Trey Gibson says the outward GOP backing for Williams means two things.

"Number one, the GOP is kind of accepting the loss in Shreveport, and then secondly they're going after the most favorable candidate," Gibson says of Williams.

It's important to note that those agreeing to help host the fundraiser do not amount to endorsements for Williams for mayor. But Gibson says if Williams hangs on to all those Republican backers, and no Republican gets into the mayor's race, Williams could win without a runoff.

To do that, he'd have to get 50 percent of the vote plus one against what is shaping up to be a crowded field of fellow Democrats. Assuming Patrick Williams runs, and in addition to Sam Jenkins, at least three other Democrats say they're in the race: State Representative Roy Burrell, former city councilwoman Maxine Sarpy, and Caddo Commissioner Michael Williams.

 

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