Fair. Balanced. American.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Good news

With opportunist, Bush and Jindal-supporting former Republican Ray Nagin out of the running, New Orleans finally has a chance to elect a halfway decent mayor: Mitch Landrieu.
But many of those who preferred Mr. Nagin to Mr. Landrieu in 2006 have had a case of buyer’s remorse, expressing disappointment at the current mayor’s halting leadership in the years since Hurricane Katrina and an unending series of scandals at City Hall. And Mr. Landrieu has nearly universal name recognition: his sister Mary is a United States senator, and his father, Moon Landrieu, was mayor in the 1970s, the last white man to hold the job. [...]

Mr. Murray’s decision to drop out, several of his campaign aides said, was based on recent polls showing Mr. Landrieu with a huge lead, buttressed by considerable support among black voters, many of whom remember the racial barriers torn down by Mr. Landrieu’s father. That lead was not insurmountable, but overcoming it would have required a large outlay of campaign money that just wasn’t there.

Mr. Murray also said in a statement that he dropped out to avoid a racially divisive campaign. But the fact that his announcement left Mr. Landrieu and John Georges, a white businessman and former candidate for governor of Louisiana, as two of the front-runners, may have fueled just that.

It would have been better for the city (and Landrieu) if Landrieu had defeated Murray in an election. But fortunately, the necessary electoral battle between governance and hackery is still likely to occur:
For this reason, black voters have been urged to rally around one of the remaining black candidates, and Mr. Henry seems to be gaining ground quickly. After all, Mr. Landrieu seemed poised to beat Mr. Nagin around this time in 2006, but Mr. Nagin won in a 52-to-48 percent vote. (Mr. Landrieu’s defeat may have owed more to his unpopularity among conservative whites, some of whom vow never to vote for a Landrieu.)

Still, some black power players are making calculations they never thought they would.

Bill Rouselle, owner of a public relations and consulting firm called Bright Moments, helped engineer Mr. Nagin’s re-election in 2006 and had been working for Mr. Murray’s campaign. Now Mr. Rouselle he has agreed to join the Landrieu campaign.

“The critical thing for the African American community is to be much more focused on a clear agenda,” he said. In recent years, he said, “the agenda being followed became a secondary concern to getting a black person elected.”Mr. Rouselle said his daughter is even thinking of voting for Mr. Landrieu.

“For her to even consider voting for a white candidate is something totally different,” he said. “It’s almost as big a deal as the prospect two years ago that we would have an African-American president of the United States.”

Amen. A white guy could be mayor of New Orleans, a white lesbian is mayor of Houston, which is 24% black, 41% Hispanic and maybe 10% gay. And an African American man is President of the United States. These elections are demographic improbabilities, but voters are choosing them for their leadership and competence rather than their race or sexual orientation. America is continually evolving. We still have some big lessons to teach the world.

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