Sunday, December 14, 2008

Introducing: The Race to the Punchline, 2010 Edition

That's right everybody! Only a couple more years (half empty or half full?) until Ray Nagin is forced out of office by term limits. I've decided it's time to start irresponsibly speculating as to who might be interested in thinking about testing the waters for a possible race to succeed Mayor Nagin at City Ha.

My inspiration here is Chris Cillizza's blog at the Washington Post, The Fix. He does a weekly segment called The Line which he uses to examine a political race on the horizon and untidily ranks potential candidates from least likely to most likely to win the office in question.

Classic Cillizza segments tend to stick to actual elections, like this Senate forecast from October. Since the election, he's been doing more annoying lists like this week's top "modern political scandals" or this marginally more interesting ranking of "Republicans to watch."

Anyway, this WCBF segment on the Mayor's race is meant to be entertainingly speculative, a conversation starter. I wouldn't start placing bets on anything I say quite yet, though we maybe should set that up down the line.

Again, this ranks potential candidates from least likely to most likely to be our next Mayor.

To the Punchline -

Tier III

15. John Georges - This businessman made a bunch of money off of video poker, I think. He financed his own losing campaign for governor, demonstrating a willingness to throw money down the garbage disposal that could bolster the argument that he'd be ready on day one.

14. Eli Ackerman - This celebutard blogutante's popularity somehow keeps growing, in spite of his consistent overuse of the comma.

13. Troy C. Carter - Think about it, Troy Carter runs for everthing. He's been very good at finishing in the middle of the pack and I don't see any reason he can't repeat that success once more. Having a base on the West Bank is an important advantage post K, as the area now comprises a much larger percentage of the citywide population.

12. Rob Couhig - Couhig has an enormous ego and a penchant for poisoning the electoral process. Expect an announcement soon?

11. Ray Nagin - Is this a celebration or what? You don't change captains mid sink, right? Charter change now!

10. Ron Forman - Will tear the rich white Republicans away from the Couhig coalition.

Tier II

9. Helena Moreno - Unemployed and desperate! Puppet strings still attached from failed race last month.

8. Cynthia Willard-Lewis - The Councilwoman for District E has demonstrated an incredible aptitude for blustery but shallow speech-making and has some infrastructure in place from her citywide race for Council At-Large in 2007. Her District just isn't that much of a power base for her anymore, especially since the Vietnamese community will continue to be assertive at the polls moving forward. She may be running out of paths toward electoral upward mobility.

7. Edwin Murray - No name recognition, but state senators have real power given the municipal leadership vacuum. Don't know a whole lot about him, to be honest. He's been winning elections for a long time though, and has had to deal with the most difficult post K issues from an especially flooded district.

6. Cheryl Gray - She's as popular as any elected official in the city but has poor name recognition outside her state senate district. She might be a more likely candidate to challenge Cao in two years than to run for Mayor.

5. Jackie Clarkson - She's down this low on the list because she's got name recognition, she represents the whole city as an At-Large Councilor, and because I've heard "things." Her lackluster reviews as Council President will likely cause her stock to plummet once things shake out a little bit.

4. James Carter - After a half-assed effort to run for Congress this year, Carter clearly has some hurdles to clear before people will stop confusing him with Troy. Councilman Carter's prospects are also clouded by the possibility that he could instead be interested in the 2nd District Congressional seat again in two years, instead of the Mayor's office. It is likely that many other potential candidates will have to make up their mind about which office they'd prefer.

Tier I

3. Unidentified outsider businessman - Someone with 'executive experience' will promise to shake things up on Perdido St. by instituting 'best practices.' This person will spend a lot of other people's money on billboards.

2. Karen Carter Peterson - A lot of the idiots that worked to sandbag her 2006 campaign to oust Bill Jefferson are probably feeling a little stupid right now. She's worked hard in leadership roles at the State House and clearly has some political skill. If she decides to run, she'll be an early front runner because she's one of the only people with the influence to convince others to stand down.

1. Arnie Fielkow - It kind of already feels like he's an announced candidate, given the way people talk about him. I think it's clear that he's putting a lot of consideration into the possibility. Fielkow has been able to appear engaged and proactive without getting into the sniper battles of Councilwomen Head and Midura. He's got citywide name recognition and has the business ties needed to be a fundraising force.

What do you think?


Schroeder said...

You definitely left out a major contender: Jim Bernazzanni -- still in town, and attempting to set up a citywide political operation.

mominem said...

I hope Duce runs.

bayoustjohndavid said...

"Karen Carter Peterson - A lot of the idiots that worked to sandbag her 2006 campaign to oust Bill Jefferson are probably feeling a little stupid right now."

That's just so tempting to the shit-stirrer in me.

Anonymous said...

Strike all the white candidates off the list (unless you add Bill Quigley). No white candidate can win if the city stays racially divided in 2010, especially given that 90,000 blacks voted in November compared to only 50,000 whites. With Pincus Friedman buying up the black community to bulldoze it, the RSD demolishing five black schools to build one new one, and the Times-Picayune fuming about needing more greenspace, 2010 will be the perfect storm for racial block voting. And speaking of racial block voting, how do we explain how "liberal" white precincts that went for Obama last month turned around and voted for a conservative, anti-abortion Republican three weeks later? Sounds like white people are racial block voting and not for the most qualified candidate or even for someone who shares their views (remember Malik Rahim was in the run off, but then again, he might be "green" but he looked too "black" for Maple Street cafe society. Based on past white racial block voting, any savvy black strategist would love to have a Bernazzani or Stacy Head in the race: guarentees that whites will rally around the white canidate and panic blacks voters into the arms of a black candidate. So who among the named white candidats opposed the BNOBC plan to demolish the black community, the RSD school demolition plan, and the firing of 5,000 black teachers? That's the white candidate who blacks can trust. It's a very, very short list.

oyster said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
oyster said...

I like the idea of an unidentified outsider businessperson candidate splitting votes with Georges and/or Couhig.

Boulet? Now more than ever?

E said...

Schroeder - Bernazzanni is ineligible because of residency issues. Thats what was so ironic about the political posturing that lead to his resignation from the FBI - he can't qualify for the Mayor's office anyway. Maybe something's changed about that or I'm not remembering it correctly, not sure.

Anon - Name all the African American politicians that took public stands all of these: BNOB, RSD master plan, the firing of 5000 black teachers. How does the complicity of large swaths of the African American political leadership class fit into the political scene right now? For me, AA disillusionment with the AA leadership class and the municipal democratic process is why I think Arnie Fielkow is a viable candidate. The others I list are obviously long-shots. And if you've got any idea who the hell Pincus Friedman is, email me.

Oyster, I forgot all about Boulet. She could definitely be that mystery candidate, but she'd definitely be further back in the pack, somewhere in between Sen. Gray and Councilman Carter. She'll definitely be on the next line in name.

Everyone, I think the main point is that this thing is WIDE open. It's not because there's no clear favorite among a bunch of viable options, it's because there's a crippling leadership vacuum where there appear to be no viable options at all.

Anonymous said...

Eli Ackerman. A Man for all Seasons, a candidate for all the wrong reasons.

Do you like it?

E said...

It's perfect!

adrastos said...

Georges fits the bill for number 3 quite neatly BUT he may back Arnie.

Leigh C. said...

Boulet can't run for anything in this town ever again: she had her picture taken with Ashley Morris

and we all know that means political death for the poseur involved.

Civitch said...

Boulet and Couhig are political dead meat with much of the white community for their endorsements of Nagin.

Georges has been working with CWL to buy, um, I mean secure large sections of the black vote.

Carter's showing in the congressional race should make him think twice about running for mayor.

Jackie's ego may just be big enough to delude herself into thinking she could win, but she can't.

Troy Carter is a slimeball. Not that that's ever been a disqualification for the position.

Ed Murray is a solid, smart guy, and he and KCP would likely divvy up most of the black vote. But he's extremely quiet, not dynamic at all, and has had very low visibility outside of his district.

Arnie Fielkow isn't as aggressive and forceful as he could be on the council, but he's proven himself to be honest to a fault, and a good bridge between the white and black council factions.

p.s. I hate that so much of my opinion is based on racial block voting, but that's still what much of this will come down to.

jeffrey said...


I can fin Bernazzani on e's list.


I agree that Gray is a much better bet against Cao than for mayor. Is Gray Oyster's mystery well-respected black candidate he's referred to previously?

Also, you left out Manny Chevrolet Bruno.

oyster said...

"Is Gray Oyster's mystery well-respected black candidate he's referred to previously?"

No. I identified that the candidate was a black male.

As Jeffrey pointed out Whither Manny? Whither Mitch? They are as likely to run as some of the others on the list. (I strongly doubt that Mitch will run, but he's at least as "likely" as a Ray Nagin III term.)

E said...

Mitch should definitely be on this list. Somewhere. Major oversight on my part. As you said, I don't think he's likely to run. But he's a big player that could be competitive immediately.

Schroeder said...


You're right about residency, except that I believe it's a five-year rule, and Bernazzanni may come in right under the wire. Not saying he could win, but he could certainly alter the outcome.


You should give "'liberal' white precincts" more credit. They also turned out to vote in greater numbers than their African-American counterparts for the strongest advocate for African-American equity in the recovery, Green Party candidate Malik Rahim:

See, New Orleans politics is not all, or always, reducible to black-white differences, but spinning it that way does benefit particular interests, like pastors who benefit from contracts they get in return for political support:

boathead said...

I can't believe Troy Carter even made your list. Call him the "Three time loser Carter." to differentiate him from all those other Carters.

You've missed the best consensus candidate out there. Roy Glapion, brother of the president elect's social secretary (or something like that) former king of Zulu, and darling of the white minority.

Frankly, just his closeness to the White House is a huge point in his favor in my book. There is a whole lot of federal infrastructure funds about to be spent, and I can think of no more important infrastructure than 1000yr levees.

E said...

Carter runs for everything, how could I not put him on the list?

Glapion is a good call, I'll have to look into him.

Clifton said...

I can't disagree with your list at all. The anonymous comment was correct. We are primed for another racial election and even though you were right about the lack of black politicians who spoke out against those plans it won't matter. The candidate who will use that to his or her advantage will probably come from a situation where they didn't have any official say so and that will be their excuse to blame everyone because the biggest pot of gold is black voters who are frustrated with white and black leaders. That group is larger than the experts think.

Personally, I would prefer someone that has no political aspirations outside of being mayor and fixing the city. I know that's a fantasy but despite what anyone says the reality of it is no matter who wins and what color they are the system is broken.

The city needs someone who doesn't give a damn about winning another election anywhere else. We don't need a politician. We need a leader.

If Rob Couhig was lucky enough to make the runoff I would openly campaign for his opponent.

bayoustjohndavid said...

I don't think you all are aware of the great honor that Library Journal bestowed upon Mitch. That moves him to the front of the pack if he decides to run.

Civitch said...

Wild card: James Perry.