Report from Louisiana: Cassidy v. Perkins, Senate 2020

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – One of the races people in Louisiana will be watching this fall will be the Senate race; incumbent Bill Cassidy will be challenged by Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins. I will tell you, a lot of people in Shreveport were not surprised when Perkins announced his candidacy; not many people really believe he has true dedication for the betterment of Shreveport.

When Perkins ran for mayor of Shreveport in 2018, he won in a runoff against incumbent Mayor Ollie Tyler. On paper, Perkins looks like a wunderkid: Harvard Law School, Army veteran, recipient of the Bronze Star, young, black, upwardly mobile…it all looks swell.

Looks are deceiving.

From the start Perkins drew controversy and criticism because he really did not live in Shreveport, and people could not figure out why he wanted to be mayor here.  Perkins was raised in Shreveport, graduated high school in Shreveport, but then left Louisiana to serve in the U.S. Army, and then was selected by the Pat Tillman Foundation to be a Tillman scholar; he went to Harvard.  Perkins was absent from Shreveport for fourteen years before he came back in 2017 to prime the pump for his mayoral run.

Perkins never voted in any election until he voted for himself at age 32 for mayor.

Local political pundit Elliot Stonecipher asked a lot of questions about the mysterious Adrian Perkins back in 2018 after Perkins won the election.

Stonecipher was not wrong.  There have been a lot of questions about Perkins and his behavior in the past two years.

For example, one of the first acts as mayor was to change insurance companies for the City. The new plan cost far more for far less coverage. As it turned out, the new plan was awarded to a man named Roddrelle Sykes of Frost Bank Insurance; Sykes is the first cousin of Perkins’s campaign manager.  Perkins did not get City Council authorization for this change which was required, nor did he go through the bid process.

The whole affair was very sketchy and prompted an Internal Audit. Scandal number one.

There was also a scandal, or controversy, about his car allowance; Perkins took both the car assigned to him AND the car allowance, rather than one or the other.

And then there were the rumors of potential drunk driving stops, which the mayor explained away and was never cited.

There have been a series of these unfortunate events that have caused many in Shreveport to question the mayor’s dedication to the city; does he really care about improving life in Shreveport or is this just a stepping stone to higher aspirations?

To that end, Barack Obama endorsed Perkins last week for his Senate bid, apparently only because Perkins is a Democrat rather than for any actual accomplishment he has done for the city.

One of his pet projects is Universal Basic Income which is obviously highly controversial.

In fact, Perkins cares so much for Shreveport, the first thing he did when Hurricane Laura blew threw earlier in the month, leaving thousands without power in Shreveport, Perkins decamped for Lake Charles to volunteer there for photo ops.

Under his tenure, crime in Shreveport has been epidemic with nearly daily shootings. We had this problem before, certainly, but it has gotten no better under Perkins. It seems to have gotten worse. Police officer pay is so low we are some forty officers short; the streets are drag strips and infrastructure is literally crumbling.

It would not be fair to attribute all of the Shreveport woes (and there are many) to Perkins, but as a man who vowed to improve life in Shreveport as part of his campaign, what has he done? Not much. Not much at all.  

I don’t think anyone really expects Perkins to win against Cassidy, but stranger things have happened. Perhaps this is more for exposure, paving the way later on for another bid at something else. He appears to have some fairly savvy handlers.

Suffice to say that many in town thought it was a joke when Perkins announced this run; I thought it was a Babylon Bee article at first, seriously.

But, time will tell.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

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