New Orleans mayor C. Ray Nagin was re-elected Saturday by a vote of 52 percent to 48 percent against his challenger, Mitch Landrieu, the current lieutenant governor of Louisiana. And, Nagin said in his victory speech, for all of the “folks who went to the other side, who went to the red-light district, I forgive you.”
Nagin’s surprise victory, bringing in just enough white voters to win by 5,329 votes, has sent analysts’ heads spinning. Even Nagin himself says that people really have no idea about New Orleans politics.
“The nation is being entertained. This is a big reality TV show,” Nagin said of New Orleans and himself. “They don’t get it. They don’t get the people of New Orleans. They don’t get what really happened during Katrina. They really don’t get Ray Nagin. Sometimes I don’t get Ray Nagin, so it’s all right.” — Houston Chronicle
But I can explain it easily: Nagin was the lesser of two evils. As a moderate Democrat, Nagin, despite being widely criticized for incompetence in his handling of Hurricane Katrina, frightened the business owners a lot less than Landrieu, whom they perceived as a corrupt liberal wacko with too many of his family members in high places.
“Some people were seeing a vote for Nagin as a way of stopping Mary Landrieu when she runs for re-election in 2008,” said Errol Laborde, editor of New Orleans Magazine and producer of a weekly television news roundtable.
“Then there was this rather liberal use of the word dynasty,” he said. The Landrieus have never had a hint of scandal associated with them, he said, but the word “dynasty” was loaded.
“I also think that what was going on is Nagin is term-limited,” Laborde said. “People in the business community thought it was better to ride out Nagin’s four years than elect a young Mitch Landrieu for eight years who could indeed build a dynasty.”
“Electing Mitch might have affected the course of politics for the next 30 years,” Laborde said. — Ibid.
The mayor of New Orleans can only serve two four-year terms.
All that’s left to do now is go down to the French Quarter, drink like mad, and wait for the next hurricane.