Quick & Dirty Thoughts About The NOLA Primary Election

It was an eventful weekend at Adrastos World HQ. The LSU Tigers came back from a 20-0 deficit to the Other Tigers of Auburn to win 27-23.  Auburn has still not won at Tiger Stadium in the 21st Century. The Saints won a wild and wacky home game against the Detroit Lions. It resembled a rugby match at times but a win is a win is win.

The most important event, of course, was the New Orleans primary election. For the majority of you who don’t live in New Orleans and need some context, here’s a link to my page at the Bayou Brief. I need to pitch something there soon but the Oscar crisis and its aftermath left me lower energy than Jeb Bush. Believe me.

The headline is that two African-American women will be competing in the run-off and one of them will become the first woman mayor in the city’s history. LaToya Cantrell and Desiree Charbonnet combined for 69% of the vote. It was expected to be a close three-way struggle but Cantrell led by 9%; the other major candidate Michael Bagneris (also African-American) won among white voters but finished out of the money with 18%. Bags pandered to wealthy local Lost Causers by criticizing the removal process, calling for a referendum on future controversies, then declining to say how he would vote. Oy just oy. To be fair, none of the candidates wanted to go there but he gave the worst answer by far.

A quick note about also-ran and recent malaka of the week, Frank Scurlock.  My friend and Bayou Brief publisher Lamar White Jr. crunched the numbers and informed us that Scurlock spent more per vote than any candidate in Gret Stet history, $926 per vote. He received 385 votes. He said he’d stimulate the economy and he kept that promise.

The run-off campaign should be more interesting than the primary. The two contenders are fairly close on the issues but have contrasting styles and backgrounds. The front-runner, Councilmember LaToya Cantrell, is a transplant who made her bones as a post-Katrina/Federal Flood activist. She’s a little rough around the edges but in a good way: it makes her interesting and somewhat unpredictable. She has a bit of a potty mouth, which is something we at First Draft fucking like. And she’s been known to call a motherfucker a motherfucker. There are many of those in local politics. Fuck, yeah.

As to Desiree Charbonnet, it’s become a truism to say that she’s the establishment candidate. As you know, I hate to echo the Conventional Wisdom, but in this case the truism is true.  She raised the most money and gained the most endorsements, which is a two-edged sword. On the sharp side, she has the support of Congressman Cedric Richmond; on the dull side, District Attorney Leon Cannizzarro who is unpopular in many circles because of his office’s habit of coercing witnesses to testify. Canny has the demeanor of an irritable undertaker so seeing him next to the chipper candidate on election eve was most amusing. Smile, Canny, smile.

Back to  Charbonnet. She’s a polished speaker and the camera loves her. Those should be advantages but her poorly run campaign hasn’t taken advantage of her talent. They’ve given her dubious advice about how to deal with criticism as I pointed out in a post called The Empty Podium Ad. I’ve had a series of run-ins with her supporters online. They seem to regard her as the Creole messiah or some such shit. That’s another contrast with her opponent: Charbonnet comes from an old Creole family who have been in New Orleans forever. One of her cousins implied on election eve that differences between locals and transplants that would be a theme of her run-off effort. Of course, she has so many relatives that this guy may not be in the loop. In any event, it’s a rotten idea.

LaToya Cantrell ran first for several reasons: an Obama-style GOTV effort, and negative ads run by Charbonnet’s detractors. It’s unclear how resonant those attacks will be in the run-off but Cantrell benefited from them and the back-and-forth between Charbonnet and third place finisher Michael Bagneris. Charbonnet may have made it difficult for Bags to endorse her because of the nature of her attacks on him, especially comments in the final televised debate implying that he cheated on his wife: “he has a lovely wife who has stood by him.” I know how to read between the lines, y’all.

The open question is who, if anyone, incumbent Mayor Mitch Landrieu will endorse. Despite taking a well-deserved beating over drainage issues, his approval rating remains in the mid to high 50’s. He’s neither politically nor personally close to either candidate so he might be wise to stay out of the fray. I asked around yesterday and the consensus is that the Mayor is unlikely to endorse soon. I think his best course is to praise both candidates, the history they’re about to make, and stay out. Mitch can read the election results and they favor Cantrell. They’ve had a prickly and contentious relationship but she’s the front-runner until proven otherwise.

I didn’t support any of the leading candidates in the primary. I leaned towards Cantrell but have reservations about her position on short-term rentals. I also had a friend and krewe mate, Ed Bruski, who ran as an outsider candidate so I was one of 450 people who voted to give New Orleans a Bruski. In the run-off, the choice is clear. Cantrell is my council member  and she has been responsive to her constituents, which means she’ll listen to the voters. As to Charbonnet, she’s the latest in a long line of machine politicians to run as a reformer or, as she is fond of saying, an innovator. I don’t have a problem with machine politicians but I prefer they be honest about it. My rule of thumb in Louisiana politics is that when someone calls themselves a reformer, check your wallet. C Ray Nagin ran as a reformer, after all.

It looks as if  my post title is a misnomer. It was dirty but not quick. Hell, it could have been longer but I decided to skip the Councilmanic races. That would have been far too manic. I guess that means I should give the Bangles the last word:

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: