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Misunderstanding the New Orleans Vote - And Why Whites Will Re-Elect Ray Nagin

Adam Nossiter, who has a long and impressive resume', gets his dispatch for the New York Times dead wrong.

Vote for Mayor Points to Change in New Orleans
By ADAM NOSSITER

NEW ORLEANS, April 23 -- Mayor C. Ray Nagin may have led Saturday's mayoral election, but he now faces a popular and better-financed opponent on a political landscape utterly changed by Hurricane Katrina, one in which the long-running dominance of the city's black vote has been significantly reduced.

Black residents, whose neighborhoods were the most devastated by the storm, voted in much smaller numbers than whites did on Saturday, even more so than usual. White turnout is usually higher than black turnout, but the gap was about double what it is normally, analysts said Sunday.

As a result, most of the votes here were cast against Mr. Nagin, who is black, even though he came out on top in a crowded field, with 38 percent of the vote. If that trend holds, New Orleans will elect its first white mayor in nearly 30 years on May 20, when Mr. Nagin will face Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, who got 29 percent, in a runoff.

If Mr. Landrieu receives two-thirds of the 30 percent received by the white candidates who finished behind him, Mr. Nagin's days as mayor will be over. Adding to his difficulties, Mr. Nagin must mobilize the citizens who were displaced from the city by Hurricane Katrina and who failed to turn out for Saturday's voting.

Make no mistake. The next mayor of New Orelans will be black, no matter who wins. If Clinton was the first black President, Landrieu will be New Orleans' next black mayor.

Mr. Nossiter (and his headline writer) get more than a few things wrong. For starters, there was NOTHING in the New Orleans vote that points to change. Nothing. EVERY INCUMBENT on the ballot won.* How that points to change I'll never know.

Even in the run-off for mayor we somehow managed to get two incumbents in the same race. Mitch Landrieu is the son of former New Orleans mayor Moon Landrieu, brother of Sen. Mary "I'd like to punch George Bush in the nose" Landrieu and he's currently the Lt. Governor. -- He's an incumbent too. Electing a Landrieu in Louisiana hardly denotes change.

Mr. Nossiter has some odd voter turn out data but perhaps he had early information so I won't quibble on that. But despite living here for years, he doesn't have his fingers on the pulse of New Orleans near as much as his editors think he does, as this paragraph illustrates:

White business leaders who supported him enthusiastically four years ago deserted him entirely in this election, throwing their support mostly to an Uptown business executive, Ron Forman, who won 17 percent of the vote. Now, some Uptowners who contributed to Mr. Forman say they will support Mr. Landrieu, albeit with some reluctance.

I spent my day with white Uptown business leaders and the joke today was "Hey, did you hear in the New York Times we support Landrieu?" -- It was seen as farce.

This might surprise many of you, but many prominent white Republicans are taking heart medication and supporting Ray Nagin.

Why, you ask? For that you have to understand the dynamic:

Mary Landrieu won her Senate seat by 5,788 (mostly dead) voters from New Orleans. Her opponent beat her 53 percent to 47 percent outside of Orleans Parish, but over 100,000 votes came out of Orleans "all" of which were for Mary. (Not that it stank to high heaven or anything.)

So do the math.

Without 100,000 poor black people living in the projects, Mary Landrieu -Mitch's sister- ain't going back to Washington. Simply put, the Landrieu's need 100,000 poor black people suffering in the poverty to further their own political gains. (Everyone knows this I just say it more candidly than those highly paid pundits.)

So what do you think the FIRST thing Mitch is going to do if elected? Rebuild the housing projects! -- Of course he'll do it under the guise of trying to help them or trying to bring the city back. Blah. Blah. Blah. The REALITY is that the Landrieus' need mass quantities of blacks living in squalor or they get voted out of office.

The projects were an abysmal failure and everyone knows it. But everyone who follows politics in New Orleans also knows that they're coming back if Mitch wins. Nagin might be a racist idiot, but Landrieu will destroy the city.

And that, Dear Reader, is why whites -who hate Ray Nagin- will probably put him back in office.


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Comments (22)

I thought the City was alre... (Below threshold)
JEFF:

I thought the City was already destroyed?

The election certainly will... (Below threshold)
doctorj:

The election certainly will be interesting. Nagin got only %5 of the white vote this time as opposed to 85% of the white vote last election. Unless he picks up more white support I don't see how he can do it, and after the "chocolate city" remarks I don't see it happening. I think Landrieu will win, but I am naive when it comes to politics.
Jeff, are you disappointed? 20% of the city survives and people are working very hard, without the help of the government and not much help from insurance companies, to get more of it up and running.

No ,but i would be if Nagin... (Below threshold)
JEFF:

No ,but i would be if Nagin stays in office!

Let's not count our chicken... (Below threshold)

Let's not count our chickens before they hatch, Paul. No matter who wins New Orleans mayor, they'll still be coming up with ways to bus the "dienfranchised black voters" back into the city to vote for Mary, and Kathleen Blabineaux-Bunko.

If you mean Cutie pie and K... (Below threshold)
virgo:

If you mean Cutie pie and Kathleen Blanc check Blanco? Yes Your right.

What is it with LA politics... (Below threshold)
JD:

What is it with LA politics?

Wasn't there a spare Morial or Long lying around to toss into the NOLA mayor's race?

Paul is dead-on right about Landrieu rebulding the NOLA projects for voting reasons, but Landrieu also desperately wants to get out from underneath Kathleen Blanco, who will get beaten like a rented mule should she run for re-election. His only hope was to get himself another gig and watch as Blanco goes down, ready to try for Baton Rouge four years hence.

One thing about burying your dead above-ground - it makes it much easier to get them to the polls.

Paul, if I didn't know any ... (Below threshold)
Wanderlust:

Paul, if I didn't know any better, this story smells (yes, that's the right word, I think) of the same stench that the 1992 Gubernatorial election stank with: "vote for the crook; at least you know what you're getting" (i.e., Edwards vs. David Duke).

Henry and Russell [Long] must both be rolling laughing in their graves right about now...the more things change (in NOLA), the more things stay the same.

Anyone down in the Parish up for voting the "Rowley Ticket"? Just you wait...that'll be back too.

/sigh

This is a veritable buffet ... (Below threshold)

This is a veritable buffet of paranoia, Paul. Good stuff indeed. Where to begin?

I'm a little confused: if Mary Landrieu won with "mostly dead" votes, why did she also need the poor black "project" vote? And if she had that many extra votes in her pocket, why didn't she just use them all in the open primary in 2002, and avoid a runoff altogether? I guess she wanted to spend more money and make it a big dramatic spectacle.

And in a post supposedly devoted to correcting inaccuracies, why do you say that Mary won by 10,000 votes when the margin was 40,000? She got over a 4 to 1 margin in a city that was nearly 70% black. Big whoop. And here's some news: the winning margin in a close state race frequently comes from the city, because many big cities vote heavily Democratic, producing wide margins.

Now, I think in this particular case (2002), the GOP inadvertently helped Landrieu win with their unusual voter education efforts that included passing out flyers reading:

"Vote!!! Bad Weather? No problem!!! If the weather is uncomfortable on election day (Saturday December 7th) Remember you can wait and cast your ballot on Tuesday December 10th."

That was nice.

Also, Nossiter's claim that "some Uptowners who contributed to Mr. Forman say they will support Mr. Landrieu" and your claim that "many prominent white Republicans are... supporting Ray Nagin" are not contradictory! If you read each sentence carefully, you can see that BOTH can be true.

Finally, and I hate to totally dismantle your carefully crafted conspiracy theory in one fell swoop, but I am compelled to do so in the interest of accuracy.

Neither Mitch Landrieu nor the Housing Authority of New Orleans decides whether or not the projects will be repaired and reopened. Ultimately, that's HUD's call-- and every indication is that they'll remain closed for quite some time. New fences just went up around the St Bernard complex, for example. So, it's very doubtful that Mitch would make building projects his first order of business when the Bush administration is entirely in control of their future.

Good try though. No one understands these issues quite like you do.

Fences go up around the St.... (Below threshold)
Wanderlust:

Fences go up around the St. Bernard housing project, so that means it won't be fixed anytime soon?

Damn.

"oyster" is either not from NOLA at all, or else is a recent transplant there. And he trades what he calls a "conspiracy theory" (dead voters, which anyone from NOLA understands can be fairly common) for another - his so-called "educational flyers" allegedly passed out by Republicans for the 2002 election.

I for one would love to meet Republicans who were brave enough to walk through any project to pass out flyers. Hell, not even New Orleans' finest would venture into the projects without sizeable backup.

Nor does "oyster" understand that HUD and other federal agencies must work through local governments. Ditto for any Presidential administration official or group.

Good try, oyster. Fences are permanent, and fighting one person's allegation with another (dead voters vs flyers) makes you so much more knowledgeable.

Just like someone who comes from outside, pretending to understand NOLA better than those of us who grew up there.

Hey, you wouldn't have been on the commission that chose Harrah's to run the Casino by any chance, would you, oyster?

/laughing

Wanderlust, the bumperstick... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Wanderlust, the bumperstickers read: "Vote for the crook, it's important." (same Idea, just being more precise.)

Wanderlust, I've been a New... (Below threshold)

Wanderlust, I've been a New Orleanian for ten years, and admit I have a lot to learn about everything.

Nonetheless, my election stats were correct and Paul's weren't. In a post devoted to accuracy, he misunderestimated Landrieu's returns by over 50,000 votes.

In 2002, Landrieu didn't win the runoff by 10,000 votes, she won by 42,012. And she didn't win Orleans parish by 100,000, she won it by 78,900 votes. She didn't take 100%, she took about 80-85%. I don't see why Paul has to exaggerate the numbers so much in order to make his argument.

I suppose Republicans don't have to actually go to the projects on election day. They can pay people to do that for them. Anyway, the mention of the flyer episode was incidental to my argument, I wasn't using it as a "substitute" for anything. Just wanted to get your goat, Wanderlust.

Also, I didn't dispute the fact that dead people have "voted" in Louisiana (as in other states).

As far as the fences go, I said that they were an indication that the St Bernard project will be "closed for quite some time". But you chose to stretch my claim by saying I thought the "fences were permanent". I'll bet you a dozen ersters those fences will still be there in November 2008.

Yes, HUD must "work through" local agencies like HANO, but ultimately, HUD decides because they have the money. The mayor may be consulted, but to my knowledge he cannot force them to fund a project to which HUD is opposed. These are all academic details, though. What's going to happen, I believe, is that most of the heavily damaged projects in New Orleans will be closed, razed, and eventually rebuilt on the St. Thomas/River Garden neighborhood model. It will take many years.

Paul, on the other hand, believes Mitch Landrieu will quickly rebuild the current projects and repopulate them in order to get 100k votes for his sister. We'll see what actually happens.

For the record, I think Mitch will squeak by with a 51.5-48.5% victory. (That is, unless C. Ray Wonka puts his "chocolate" foot in his mouth again. Then the businessmen Paul was talking to will run away from Ray Ray like scalded dogs.)

This is a veritable buffet ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

This is a veritable buffet of paranoia, Paul.

The power of accurate observations is often called cynicism by those who have not got it. --George Bernard Shaw.


I'm a little confused: if Mary Landrieu won with "mostly dead" votes, why did she also need the poor black "project" vote? And if she had that many extra votes in her pocket, why didn't she just use them all in the open primary in 2002, and avoid a runoff altogether? I guess she wanted to spend more money and make it a big dramatic spectacle.

That dead people voted for Mary is a demonstrable fact. She even joked about you idiot. The Senate investigation found numours cases of voter fraud but (pre Gore V Bush) voted 8-7 ON PARTY LINES to not contest the election.


And in a post supposedly devoted to correcting inaccuracies, why do you say that Mary won by 10,000 votes when the margin was 40,000?

To bait morons like you. I WAS wrong. The final margin was only 5,788. My memory was being generious. Now would you like to talk accuracy some more?

Note: After this comment, I edited the post to provide Mary's correct margin of victory. Oyster did not misquote me.

She got over a 4 to 1 margin in a city that was nearly 70% black. Big whoop. And here's some news: the winning margin in a close state race frequently comes from the city, because many big cities vote heavily Democratic, producing wide margins.

She got 100,000 votes from a city with 120,000 regiistered voters. about 1/3 of which (back then) were white Republicans. She got something like a 92% margin in one parish and something like 75% of those votes came in within a 2 hour period. Please get some knowledge before you make a jackass out of yourself, again.

Now, I think in this particular case (2002), the GOP inadvertently helped Landrieu win with their unusual voter education efforts that included passing out flyers reading:

"Vote!!! Bad Weather? No problem!!! If the weather is uncomfortable on election day (Saturday December 7th) Remember you can wait and cast your ballot on Tuesday December 10th."

That was nice.


And your source for this??? That would be the Mary Landrieu. She (her campain) produced the flyer and claimed they found it in black neighboods. -Funny that was the only one ever found- That was an effort to motivate the black vote you moron. Not a single flyer was found other than the one that came off her laser printer. You idiot.


Also, Nossiter's claim that "some Uptowners who contributed to Mr. Forman say they will support Mr. Landrieu" and your claim that "many prominent white Republicans are... supporting Ray Nagin" are not contradictory! If you read each sentence carefully, you can see that BOTH can be true.

Sure SOME people uptown will swing both ways. I'm here to tell you the tought that most white uptowners are going with Mitch was laughed at by a bunch of white uptowners.

Finally, and I hate to totally dismantle your carefully crafted conspiracy theory in one fell swoop, but I am compelled to do so in the interest of accuracy.

Good luck with that accuracy thing, so far you're having trouble with it.

Neither Mitch Landrieu nor the Housing Authority of New Orleans decides whether or not the projects will be repaired and reopened. Ultimately, that's HUD's call-- and every indication is that they'll remain closed for quite some time. New fences just went up around the St Bernard complex, for example. So, it's very doubtful that Mitch would make building projects his first order of business when the Bush administration is entirely in control of their future.


Sigh- That is almost too stupid to even comment on but I guess I'm forced. If you don't think the moyor of of New Orleans can make the housing projects a priority in the rebuilding, you are extraordinarily naive.

-By your logic, Jesse Jackson doesn't hold any political office at all so he never gets anything done in politics. Your logic is left -like the rest of your points- lacking. -- No, Mitch won't sign an exectutive order. But his "Rebuild New Orleans Now Comitte" (or whatever) will "decided" it is the most imporant project they have. Wake up and smell the coffee.


Good try though. No one understands these issues quite like you do.

Apparently, I understand them a tad bit better than you. And what is more amazing is that you would go after someone for being wrong without even using google to make sure you didn't have your head up your ass.

Which you did.

I'm in Metairie, so I can't... (Below threshold)

I'm in Metairie, so I can't vote for Nagin, but if I could, I would. There's no guarantee any other pol around here would have done better during Katrina than Nagin did and before Katrina, he was a good mayor. Remember how he cleaned house with the taxicab and brake tag corruption right after he took office? That's the man I want in charge when millions of federal dollars are flowing through New Orleans, not the man who pissed away a million taxpayer dollars redecorating his office.

Wanderlust, I've been a New... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Wanderlust, I've been a New Orleanian for ten years, and admit I have a lot to learn about everything.

I'll say.

Nonetheless, my election stats were correct and Paul's weren't. In a post devoted to accuracy, he misunderestimated Landrieu's returns by over 50,000 votes.

Please follow the link I provided above. While I traditionallay delete inaccurate posts like that, I believe you to be ignorant, not willfully deceptive. I reserve the right to change my mind.

Laura, I've heard your comm... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Laura, I've heard your comments a bit. And while I don't "agree" I do find it hard to disagree.

If you delete from Aug, 27th till the Choclate city speech and he's the best mayor "we've" had in decades.

School Bus Nagin is Histo!!... (Below threshold)
CurlyLarryMoe:

School Bus Nagin is Histo!!!!

I live in Slidell & can't v... (Below threshold)
RhondainSlidell:

I live in Slidell & can't vote either, but I'd take Nagin over ANY Landrieu any day!

Paul, for some reason I err... (Below threshold)

Paul, for some reason I erroneously thought you were referring to the 2002 election, not the '96 election against Jenkins. My statistics were from 2002. I was up late-- sorry for the confusion.

Our main point of contention is this, anyway:

"Mitch won't sign an exectutive order. But his "Rebuild New Orleans Now Comitte" (or whatever) will "decided" it is the most imporant project they have."

We shall see.

oyster, NOLA/Louisiana poli... (Below threshold)
Wanderlust:

oyster, NOLA/Louisiana politics historically has been all about who you know, and what influence you wish to buy/preserve with the money.

As Paul and others have stated, NOLA will be awash in LOTS of Federal $$$'s, especially if ACoE is held accountable for the levee f*ckups.

Which brings me to my point: you believe (if I understand you correctly) that because the rebuild $$$ comes from the feds, local politicians won't be able to manipulate the spending to accomplish their own political ends.

The levee projects are a wonderful case study to prove or disprove your point: look at Federal appropriations earmarked for flood protection in Orleans Parish during the 1990's. Paul and others have asserted that significant portions of those funds were NOT applied to levee construction or related uses. Now, if that assertion is true (Google is your friend), then I don't believe it is much of a leap to suggest that HANO is capable of doing the same, with funds from HUD.

There is an awful lot [politically] at stake in regards to those missing tenants that Ray "Wonka" Nagin wanted to get back into town so quickly: from what I understand (from friends living there), some homeowners are back, but almost no renters. If those renters stay away, a reduced population will affect everything from how essential city services are redeployed (power, water, & sewerage), to the makeup and layout of Congressional districts. And in politics, as in money, power is everything.

Oh, and never underestimate the NOLA/Louisiana voting base (including all those voters who died before going to the polls): the Feds finally (!) proved that Edwin Edwards was corrupt, after 25+ years of investigations and court cases. Those of us who grew up in the area joked about how obvious it was, yet up to the time Edwards was convicted (at age 68), he had been re-elected to the Governorship every time he was eligible to run. In between, you had Treen, Roemer, and Foster as Governor (I might have missed someone, but can't recall). Each of those men were good, competent, and (for the most part) honest politicians. But when Edwards was available, he was the man Louisiana wanted.

Why? Because in politics, money is everything. And in Louisiana, politics is almost always a family affair, especially for Democrats (Edwards, Landrieu, Morial, and Marcello come to mind).

INDICT NAGIN !... (Below threshold)
CurlyLarryMoe:

INDICT NAGIN !

I appreciate Wanderlust's r... (Below threshold)

I appreciate Wanderlust's respnse, and don't disagree with his general points about money/family/influence in LA. (However, I'll note that we have a generation of voters coming of age who know only a Clinton or a Bush White House, so one must admit national politics has become something of a "Family affair", as well).

Here's my point. I disagree with Paul's contention that Mitch Landrieu will rebuild the housing projects in order to get his sister reelected. I don't think Landrieu wants to rebuild the projects as they are now, and I don't believe that HUD will fund the rebuilding of these projects. They may repair a few that suffered minor damage, but in my view, none will be rebuilt as such, and no new projects will be built on the same failed model.

Here are some of the reasons why: if elected, Mitch will have political power but, ultimately, no final say in the matter. HUD will pretend to listen to him, but no significantly damaged housing projects will be "rebuilt". Why? Because most people with any sway regard the recently completed St. Thomas mixed income neighborhood to be a relative success. Sure, HOPE IV funding (or whatever it's called, I'm no expert) will pour in-- but there is overwhelming support for mixed income neighborhoods with separate homes to replace the old public housing projects. Also, Bush's HUD will not allocate hundreds of millions toward repairing heavily damaged projects or fund new replacement public housing apartment towers in New Orleans, EVEN IF it were the mayor's top priority. I feel that is a very safe prediction, and is a serious flaw in Paul's theory.

Now, if Paul doesn't see much of a difference between the projects and (Pres Kabacoff's) St. Thomas/River Garden "mixed income" neighborhood model, that's fine. (I think the new model is a big improvement, but whatever. The point is that it's the only new-style of public housing that has any support.) Nonetheless, Paul and Uptown business-owners (like myself) should understand that no such "mixed income" neighborhood housing will be completed by 2008. No way in hell. HUD is moving at a snail's pace on this issue, and HANO is a shell of its former self.

Now, Paul believes white conservatives will reelect Nagin, because they fear Mitch will "rebuild the housing projects" to get the necessary votes to reelect his sister (or similar shenanigans). EVEN if this was Mitch's goal, it's impossible, I believe, because Bush's HUD won't fund quick repairs and mold remediation to all the heavily damaged projects (like St. Bernard) that were already in an advanced state of decrepitude. It makes more sense to build anew, on a different model. So I doubt HUD will fund new apartment-style public housing to replace the old eysores, BUT EVEN IF IT DID, these new buildings wouldn't be ready in 2 years. The approvals, the planning, the funding will ensure the process takes much longer than 2.5 years to complete. And the Bush administration could always drag its feet if it were deemed necessary. Sometimes even the GOP plays politics, too.

So here's what I'm saying: I disagree with Paul's prediction and conspiracy theory. I think most Uptown precincts won by Ron Forman will go to Landrieu in the runoff, and I think Mitch will win narrowly. I don't think Mitch will make "rebuilding the (old) projects" a top priority, and I don't think any seriously damaged (50%+) complex will be repaired and inhabited, either, and I don't think any new "projects" (whether apt style or St Thomas/River Garden model) will be completed by November 2008.

>I disagree with Paul's pre... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>I disagree with Paul's prediction and conspiracy theory. I think most Uptown precincts won by Ron Forman will go to Landrieu in the runoff, and I think Mitch will win narrowly.

Well Oyster, Like everything else in this thread, you got this dead wrong. Now please, tell me how much you "understands these issues" would you?




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