It appears that Black politicians in New Orleans aren't able to raise campaign funds as much as they did before Hurricane Katrina. As a result, New Orleans may elect a white mayor for the first time in 30 years.
Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu is popular among Black voters and leads in recent polls.
Blacks make up 62 percent of the voter rolls in New Orleans. However, white candidates have gained traction since Katrina hit in 2005. Whites gained a 4-3 majority on the City Council in 2007, and a white district attorney was elected in 2008.
In the mayoral election, political analysts say race may be less of a factor as voters consider who can accelerate the city’s recovery and fight its high crime rate.
“I think African Americans would prefer voting for an African-American, but one that they feel comfortable would do what has to be done” said City Constable Lambert Boissiere Jr., a former city councilman who was among Black leaders who rose to power in the 1970s.Many of the residents that supported Black political power in New Orleans have scattered around the nation. The disrupted neighborhood political networks haven’t come back. The city’s overall population, about 450,000 before the storm, remains down by more than 100,000.
Racial tensions were evident after Katrina. Nagin, who won with heavy white support in 2002, noted those fears as he courted Black voters in the 2006 campaign. Nagin notoriously pledged that New Orleans would be a “chocolate city” again, offending many whites.
The field for the Feb. 6 Democratic primary includes Black businessman Troy Henry, who blasted reporters at a news conference this week for focusing on race. Other candidates include former state Judge Nadine Ramsey and fair housing advocate James Perry, both Black, and white businessman Rob Couhig, the only major Republican candidate in the race.
But the candidate widely considered the front-runner is the 49-year-old Mitch Landrieu, the son of the city’s last white mayor, Moon Landrieu, and brother of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La).
“Landrieu has universal name recognition and the political pedigree,” said Edward Chervenak, a University of New Orleans political science professor.
What do you think ... will New Orleans move into its future under the leadership of a white mayor for the first time in 30 years?