New Orleans Mayoral Candidate Frank Scurlock Made History Last Night

New Orleans mayoral candidate Frank Scurlock, the eccentric entrepreneur who helped amass a family fortune estimated to be worth more than $100 million, did not win yesterday’s primary election. He wasn’t even close. But Frank Scurlock still managed to make Louisiana history, spending a grand total of $345,206.33, almost entirely money he lent his campaign, and garnering an abysmal 385 votes (0.47%).

Put another way, Scurlock spent an astronomical $920 per voter, shattering the previous record of $196 per voter set by John Georges during his 2010 campaign for New Orleans mayor. (Georges can still lay claim to another state record, however. In 2007, he spent approximately $64 per voter in his bid for governor, more than any other gubernatorial candidate in the country that year and still more than any gubernatorial candidate in Louisiana).

For context, earlier this year, the special election for Georgia’s 6th district became the most expensive congressional election in American history. Jon Ossoff, the Democratic candidate who was ultimately defeated, spent approximately $65 per primary voter. According to a report by the Brookings Institute, the most money spent per voter during the 2014 Senate elections was in Alaska, where each vote amounted to an expenditure of $120.59, a federal, general election record that likely stands. And in 2012, Rick Perry spent $358 per voter in Iowa, finishing in a distant fourth place and effectively ending his presidential campaign. By contrast, during last year’s election, Donald Trump spent only $5 per voter (notably, though, Trump’s campaign benefitted from earned media attention valued at more than $5 billion).

Of course, there is ample evidence that “money is a pretty good predictor of who will win elections,” and Scurlock’s anemic performance is explained, at least partially, by the fact that he effectively abandoned his campaign three weeks ago, after The Advocate reported he had been charged in California with a misdemeanor count of lewd conduct for allegedly masturbating in the backseat of an Uber earlier this year, a story that attracted international attention.

That said, although his quixotic campaign was never taken seriously (he barely registered in the polls), Scurlock had been spending seriously, investing more than $180,000 on billboards, television commercials, print advertisement, and social media outreach.

No candidate for any elected office has ever spent as much per voter in modern Louisiana history. But Frank Scurlock wasn’t close to setting a national record for worst return on investment.

Last year in Iowa, Jeb Bush spent approximately $2,800 per voter, and suffice it to say, the election didn’t turn out as he had planned either.

The Bayou Brief is a non-profit news publication that relies 100% on donations from our readers. Help support independent journalism about the stories of Louisiana through a monthly or one-time donation by clicking here. 

Previous articleNath Debriefs the Saints: Weeks 4 and 5
Next articleBossier Parish Sheriff Pulls Contract From Louisiana Ford Dealership Owned By Prominent GOP Donor
Lamar White, Jr.
Lamar White, Jr. is an award-winning writer and the publisher and founder of the Bayou Brief, Louisiana’s only statewide news and culture publication. Born and raised on the banks of the Red River in Alexandria, he is a proud product of the Louisiana public education system and a graduate of Rice University in Houston and SMU’s Dedman School of Law in Dallas. Lamar has been writing about politics and public policy in Louisiana for twenty years, beginning as a weekly youth columnist for his hometown paper, the Town Talk. After earning his undergraduate degree in English and Religious Studies, Lamar moved back to Alexandria, where he launched a popular blogsite, CenLamar, and worked for five years as the Special Assistant to the Mayor. He exposed significant problems with Louisiana’s school voucher program, which resulted in a series of other investigations and ultimately in the removal of several schools from the program. He was the last person to argue online with Andrew Breitbart. He investigated and then broke the report that U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise had once attended a white supremacist conference. He was the first to share a photograph of Bobby Jindal’s portrait in the state Capitol. He exposed U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy’s incomplete timesheets while the then-representative moonlighted as a physician. He earned headlines in Texas after the gubernatorial campaign of Greg Abbott falsely claimed he had been exploited as a “campaign prop” by Abbott’s opponent, Wendy Davis, and after exposing U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign for relying on online “bot farms” to counter Beto O’Rourke, and he earned headlines in Mississippi after publishing videos of U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith making bizarre comments about public hangings and voter suppression tactics which were both perceived as racist. Lamar was the recipient of the 2011 Ashley Morris Award, given to the writer who best exemplifies the spirit of New Orleans, and in 2019, he was honored as one of Gambit’s Top 40 Under 40 and as the year’s Outstanding Millennial in Journalism at the annual Millennial Awards. He has been the subject of profiles in the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, Above the Law, and the Advocate and has appeared multiple times as a guest on CNN and MSNBC. Lamar currently lives in New Orleans with his two golden retrievers, Lucy Ana and Ruby Dog.