The mood was upbeat at Preservation Bar and Grill Saturday night, and it wasn’t just because LSU was handing a loss to SEC rival Florida.
The side room of the restaurant was decked out in orange, not for the Gators, but for Beau Beaullieu, who led a four-man field for the District 48 seat in the state House.
With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Beaullieu held a 9-point lead over his nearest competitor, Iberia Parish District 8 Councilman Ricky Gonsoulin. Beaullieu polled 6,545 votes, or 42.9 percent, to Gonsoulin’s 5,169 votes, or 33.9 percent.
“It’s about where we expected to be,” Beaullieu said as the returns rolled in. “It would be hard to win outright with four people in the race.”
The other two competitors — Iberia Parish School Board President Dana Dugas and sole Democrat in the race David Levy — came in at 10 percent and 13 percent respectively.
The District 48 seat came open because Speaker of the House Taylor Barras was term limited and had to step down. Barras will assume his new role as Iberia Parish Assessor in January, taking the reigns of an office his father once held.
Although primarily in Iberia Parish, the district also emcompasses oportions of Lafayette and St. Martin parishes, which created an unknown challenge for Beaullieu.
“I think it says a lot about what the voters are looking for in a candidate,” Beaullieu. “All of my opponents ran good clean races, and I hope that can continue. I’m appreciative of Dana Dugas and David Levy and how they ran their campaigns. I made a couple of good friends during this campaign in them, and hope it can continue.”
After congratulating all those candidates who won Saturday night and his fellow competitors in District 48, Gonsoulin said he was excited at the prospect of a runoff.
“I feel good,” he said from his victory party in Loreauville. “We had a good turnout, and we are in a good position to fight the good fight. We’re going to stay positive and fight hard. Now the real race is going to happen.”
In the District 96 race, which also ancompasses portions of Iberia, St. Martin and Lafayette parishes, newcomer Marcus Bryan won handily with 58 percent of the vote in a four-contender field.
Bryan picked up 5,928 votes. His nearest competitor, Robert H. “Bob” Titus II, polled 22 percent, or 2,274 votes. School teacher Cammie “Yogi” Maturin earned 1,228 votes, or 12 percent, and Patrick Isaac Wiltz brought up the rear with 7 percent, or 724 votes.
A runoff between Beaullieu and Gonsolin is set for Nov. 16.