One is the Mitchiest Number Redux

Feb 4, 2014 by

It’s tempting to call this the dullest New Orleans election since I moved here in 1987 but Marc Morial’s re-election in 1998 tops this one. There were some fun Council races as well as the Sheriff’s race, which are going to runoffs. Plus, my main man Quentin Brown got 2122 votes for Sheriff on his no-BS, no more platform. Straight up.

Time for some random and discursive comments on the 2-1-2014 primary:

Delusions of a Mayor’s Race: In the days leading up to the primary I was stunned to learn that there were people who thought that Judge Bagneris could either force a runoff or even win outright because there were so many Bagneris yard signs around town. I am not making this up, y’all.

It’s called wishful thinking plus only talking to people you agree with: the liberal equivalent of the Fox News echo chamber. The noise ordinance flap has united a certain segment of the population and they threw in with Bags after he belatedly took up their cause. It was way too little way too late.

To be blunt, Bagneris was a terrible candidate who ran a terrible race. He should get a refund from the consultants who green lighted his teevee ad campaign. The bio spots showed a bored jurist playing with his glasses. A negative ad featuring narration from Wendell Pierce was set to the tune of the Hank Williams classic Your Cheating Heart. Really? Insider whining to country music? A terrible ad by terrible consultants.

The lesson of the dull Mayor’s race is that you cannot beat something with nothing and you cannot beat history. The last time an incumbent Mayor lost was in 1946 when Chep Morrison beat 3 term incumbent Bob Maestri. By all accounts, Morrison was a splendid and passionate candidate who took on the machine before forming one of his own.

My theory as to why Bagneris ran is a simple and cynical one. He was asked to run by his friends at the formerly dominant alphabet groups (BOLD, LIFE, COUP) but they neglected to ask him to look like he gave a damn. His piss poor performance on the stump and at the ballot box didn’t help their faltering cause one iota. The Judge did, however, get his gold watch.

The Council Races: Illustrated that people are pretty happy with the status quo, as did the low turnout of a paltry 30%. Some fun things did happen. Cynthia Windy-Lewis ran and lost again thereby going from a serious pol to a perennial candidate. I guess that makes her the Harold Stassen of NOLA politicians.

The Other Cynthia, Hedgehog-Morrell, was term limited in her district, so she ran at-Large. There’s been some kerfuffle about her violating the spirit of term limits but I don’t care since I’m not a fan of term limits. Just look at the Louisiana Lege, it’s even more benighted than before term limits took effect. But I digress. I’m pleased that there will be a runoff and that Jason Williams made it. I’m pulling for him. I think he’ll make a good councilmember even if he won’t be as entertaining as the Cruella Deville of NOLA politics.

The other big news was veteran crazy lady Jackie Clarkson being forced into a runoff by Nadine Ramsey. This was a surprise but it’s not a victory for change driven politics: Ramsey is a veteran NOLA pol with ties-you guessed it-to the alphabet groups. I’m torn about this one. I don’t think Ramsey will be as entertaining on the council as Jackie but she probably won’t doze off during Council meetings. The runoff gives Jackie a chance to continue her farewell tour. It begs the musical question, how can we miss you when you won’t go away?

Our brief municipal nightmare continues: Speaking of farewell tours, Charlie Foti forced a runoff with Marlin Gusman. I think he and Jackie should join forces and campaign together with Sentimental Journey as their theme song. It will be like Dr. J’s farewell tour of NBA arenas, only without the adoring crowds.

The Sheriff’s race produced an oopsie moment for WWL-TV when numbers maven Greg Rigamer called the race for Gusman. It turned into a Florida in 2000 moment for the station when WWL had to retract the premature projection. Guess you could call it projectionus interruptus.

Former Sheriff Foti’s entering the race was the BEST THING that ever happened to Gusman. It allowed the incumbent to remind everyone that OPP has always sucked and that Foti had his own scandals and consent decree. Foti’s bumbling, mumbling campaign didn’t help matters either. I believe he’s still giving his election eve speech somewhere. He’s starting to remind me of the Old Man on Pawn Stars only without the wit and the cool fedoras. Hmm, maybe he should have Chumlee campaign with him..

The Gusman campaign was well run and financed. He had the two best ads of the season, the negative ad comparing Foti to an old car whose best days were long gone, and the spot with other local Sheriffs endorsing his re-election. It was smart to have popular and well-respected JP Sheriff Newell Normand as the spokescop delivering the message to Lakeview that while Gusman is bad, the other guy is worse.

The runoff should be interesting albeit somewhat depressing. I wonder if Gusman’s team will run any attack ads addressing Foti’s disgraceful term as Attorney General. One thing I’m sure of is that Gusman will be returned to a job that no one in their right mind should want.

Where do we go from here? The productive asshole has a mandate and I’m sure he’ll press on with more “reforms” that will continue the Disneyfication and gentrification of our town. It’s a Mitchey, Mitchey world, after all.

One caveat to the Landrieufication of NOLA politics is that past second term Mayors have run into problems with the Council. It’s happened to every Mayor in recent memory, even to Marc Morial who won by a larger margin than Mayor Mitchey. But this time there’s no obvious Mayor-in-waiting, which means that history may not repeat itself. But one of the reasons politics is so fascinating is that it can change in a heartbeat. Remember when Chris Christie was the GOP’s 2016 front runner?


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