Mon, 24 Apr 2006 05:00:00
I seem to have recovered from Saturday. I had an emotional stake in several of the District B Council candidates who wound up getting steamrolled by Stacy Head’s late surge. I still cannot believe that Quentin Brown got 654 votes. Quentin seems charming from a distance but to meet him is to understand this: in a campaign full of wackjobs he was the bull goose loony. Quentin is the nut’s nut and should have gotten *fewer* votes than Manny Chevrolet Bruno’s 100.
I clearly overestimated the voters desire for change post-K. There are two ways to react to a crisis like the one we face: to seek drastic change or to take comfort in the familiar. A goodly number of voters yesterday did the latter; hence the good showing by incumbents. The folly in this approach is obvious: New Orleans has been in decline for years and our feckless and wasteful government has sped that decline. Returning to office the very people who helped get us in this mess makes no sense whatsoever but this *is* Topsy Turvy Town after all.
C Ray *seemed* like a breath of fresh air 4 years ago but his program for reform was limited in scope. Pre-K I had already come to the conclusion that C Ray had what a Sixties hipster would have called an alligator mouth and a hummingbird ass. Translation: he was all talk and very little action. He did reform some of the city’s contracting processes but his major anti-corruption move was the taxi cab bureau fiasco; the blame for which he shunted to Crazy Kim and publicity crazed NOPD 8th District Commander Captain Louis Dabdoub.
I have received emails from friends around the world asking me how the hell C Ray could lead in the primary. My somewhat disingenuous reply: it beats the hell out of me. Like Oyster I spent election day driving around the city casing polling places and talking to people. While my Uptown peregrinations made it clear to me that the Jefferson machine was out in force and that Gill-Pratfall and Stacy Head would make the run-off in District B I saw no signs of concerted pro-Nagin activity. Obviously many of the black folks who screamed at C Ray about land grabs Joe Canizaro and his incompetence ended up voting for him. The purveyors of the NOLA conventional wisdom were correct and those of us who thought that change was in the air were wrong. It all boiled down to race: some people voted for C Ray because in his own phrase he looked like them.
Where do we go from here? I’m less pessimistic than Jeffrey over at the Library Chronicles who thinks Mitch Landrieu may be toast and less optimistic than the presumably pseudonymous Al Scramuzza at the Third Battle Of New Orleans who thinks Mitch will win in a landslide. I think that *some* of C Ray’s business supporters might go oozing back now that he’s admitted that conservative magnates Joe Canizaro ad Boysie Bollinger are still with them. BUT C Ray is unlikely to recoup his pre-K support among the Uptown and Lakeview gentry. He’s insulted them once too often and those folks expect the help to be polite to them.
Mitch Landrieu’s challenge is to assemble a coalition by walking carefully through the racially polarized landscape of Debrisville. I think he’s equal to the task: subtlety is called for and Mitch is a subtle man which is a word that has never been applied to C Ray. I also expect C Ray to make his usual gaffes and spend part of the next month removing his foot from his mouth. Finally since the CW about racial voting patterns held true I’m hoping that the CW that an incumbent who is in a run-off is in deep trouble will hold up too. For what it’s worth: I think the final result will be Landrieu 51.5 Nagin 48.5. How’s that for precision in imprecise times?
For more in depth election post-mortems check out Oyster Jeffrey and the mime’s mime Ashley Morris. Jeffrey has a lot of fun with C Ray’s weird “exploding economic pie” image from his victory speech. I wonder if it tastes anything like Paul McCartney’s flaming pie? Here’s hoping that the exploding pie blows up in C Ray’s face: SPLAT.