Davante Lewis Endorses Two Candidates in Same Judicial Race

Simone Levine canvassing

It is highly unusual for an elected official to endorse two different candidates in two different months for the same race. Evidently that doesn’t bother Davante Lewis, who won the District 3 seat on Louisiana Public Service Commission last December. Lewis has quickly become immersed in the nuances of New Orleans politics. 

His endorsement of Simone Levine, a candidate for Criminal District Court Division A, was one of the first she announced after qualifying took place. Politicos believe that fundraiser and lobbyist Mario Zervigon was the bridge between Levine and Lewis. Zervigon was on hand at Lewis’ victory party and is now in Levine’s circle. Levine is currently a prosecutor for DA Jason Williams but previously served as head of Court Watch Nola for many years.   

Simone Levine & family

Lewis’ name just became associated with Leon Roche, another candidate for the same judicial seat. “Louisiana has a vacuum in leadership and we need leaders who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get the job done. It’s why I ran for PSC and exactly why I am supporting Leon Roche,” said Lewis in a quote on Roche’s website. Roche handled hundreds of cases as a public defender in Orleans Parish for more than a decade.

Leon Roche / Source

Levine said that her campaign team was recently told by Lewis that “it was a dual endorsement.” Dual endorsements are not uncommon but are usually rendered at the same time, not a month apart. Levine recently received another dual endorsement from the Independent Women’s Organization (IWO) which she shared with Deidre Pierce Kelly, the third candidate in the race. Kelly, currently chief of staff to Councilmember Oliver Thomas, has been endorsed by almost two dozen elected officials including Congressman Troy Carter. Kelly has dreamed about being a judge ever since she watched Perry Mason on television, according to her parents. 

Deidre Pierce Kelly & family

Lewis might have felt obligated to endorse Roche because of prison reform advocate Norris Henderson who is supporting Roche and also supported Lewis. Henderson is the only other individual to have endorsed Roche, who is also supported by several labor unions and Public Defenders for Justice. “Leon is not my enemy. We have agreed to endorse each other if either reaches the runoff,” said Levine. Lewis did not respond to a request for comment. 

Henderson has also been gathering volunteers to canvas for Roche and state representative candidate Alonzo Knox who also has been endorsed by V.O.T.E. Roche and his team canvassed at City Hall on Saturday, March 11, and will be present at Mardi Gras Indians’ Super Sunday on March 19.

Knox, a former Marine and entrepreneur who unsuccessfully ran for City Council, is facing off against Sibil “Fox” Richardson, a motivational speaker, preacher and businesswoman. Richardson is also endorsed by Congressman Carter and many of the same council members and legislators as Kelly.

Jeff Dye

A race for Civil District Court Section B has also drawn three candidates- lawyers Stephanie Bridges and Jeff Dye and First City Court Judge Marissa Hutabarat. Dye, also an avid cyclist and environmental scientist, was endorsed by the Alliance for Good Government. Bridges is a former assistant City Attorney and heads up the National Conference for Community and Justice, an organization which works with young people. Hutabarat, of Indonesian descent, was elected to the bench in 2020. She has overseen numerous evictions and small claims cases as well as performed marriages free of charge. Hutabarat has made almost a clean sweep of the available endorsements by elected officials and organizations.  

Stephanie Bridges
Judge Marissa Hutabarat

Early voting has already begun and will continue through Saturday, March 18 from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. On the first day of early voting, 2,229 votes were tallied including 612 from people who voted in person, and 1,617 whose mail-in ballots have been received so far. The election will be held on March 25 with any runoffs in April. Early voting is taking place at City Hall, the Voting Machine Warehouse on Chef Highway, the Algiers Courthouse and the Lake Vista Community Center.      

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