Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Race Race

What was once a primary campaign to determine which white person and which black person will face one another in a runoff is still a primary campaign to determine which white person and which black person will face one another in a runoff.

Mitch Landrieu's candidacy is so intriguing because he, more than any other candidate, has an opportunity to undercut this dynamic to some degree.

I don't know if it is the conventional wisdom that Mitch Landrieu is a shoo-in to be in the runoff, but it shouldn't be.

Leslie Jacobs is apparently furious with Mitch Landrieu for lying to her about his intentions. She reportedly went to him just two weeks ago to secure his promise that he wouldn't be running before she spent all kinds of money on television advertising. Her campaign staff is putting the word out that she is staying in the race and intending to win it. She will be putting in qualifying papers first thing tomorrow so we'll know by mid-morning tomorrow whether or not she has any second thoughts. Apparently, before Georges announced his candidacy, he was similarly deferential to Mitch Landrieu but I see no indication that he has any interest in quitting now.

Though Landrieu has important name-recognition and a star power quality that will give him an immediate short term advantage and the ability to tap into some real buyer's remorse from 2006, Georges and Jacobs should not be viewed as setting suns. Georges and Jacobs are millionaires. They can afford to get their names out there. Mitch Landrieu has his vulnerabilities just like everyone else.

On the surface, the three of them will be vying for different slices of similar electorates. Georges will try to capture Lakeview, old uptown families, and is going to try hard to mobilize some measure of cross-over African American support. Jacobs is going to try to capture young voters, women, and a lot of business council types who pretend to like John Georges but secretly think he's an a-hole. If Georges and Jacobs stay in, as it looks like they will, they'll have enough campaign power to capture large bases of support.

But Landrieu is still a wild card. As the only candidate with legitimate star power, he'll have the luxury of setting the debate. Depending on how he structures his platform and campaign, he could emerge as a shoe-in for the run off or he could be in for a much tougher fight.

Does Landrieu analyze this election as distilling down to a white primary, a black primary, and a runoff? Does he feel he needs to fight off Jacobs and Georges for a large enough share of the white vote to get into the runoff?

Is he just going to be a more charismatic version of Arnie Fielkow?

Or, does he instead aspire to earn widespread African American support?

Georges is definitely attempting to coddle together some votes in the black community but it's hard to imagine his largely appearance-based efforts will yield substantive results. Jacobs may want to put together that kind of coalition but I don't think she even knows where to begin.

Mitch Landrieu has the Civil Rights legacy of his father, Moon.

Will Mitch Landrieu run on that legacy by demonstrating his value as a bridge builder willing to fight for compromises from entrenched power structures?

Or, will he campaign for citywide office like he and his sister have campaigned for statewide office, as the consensus candidates of the Democratic Party and the chamber of commerce?

He can run as super-Arnie and either win or lose a much harder than anticipated white people primary, and then lose in the runoff to Ed Murray, who, for his part, is reaching out to white voters though his district and his allies in the developer class.

Or, Mitch Landrieu can run as Moon Landrieu's son and take a stab at a real consensus coalition.

He might still lose the election doing it that way, but I'd like him and his chances a heckuva lot better.

---

Quick power rankings:


In it to spin it:

8. Rob Couhig
7. Nadine Ramsey


Lurking not looming:

6. Troy Henry
5. James Perry


Looming not lurking:

4. John Georges
3. Leslie Jacobs


Until further notice:

2. Mitch Landrieu
1. Ed Murray

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

>Leslie Jacobs is apparently furious with Mitch Landrieu for lying to her about his intentions. She reportedly went to him just two weeks ago to secure his promise that he wouldn't be running before she spent all kinds of money on television advertising. Her campaign staff is putting the word out that she is staying in the race and intending to win it. She will be putting in qualifying papers first thing tomorrow so we'll know by mid-morning tomorrow whether or not she has any second thoughts.<

Gee, REALLY?

Hey kids, Mitchy did the SAME thing to Forman, who was too, too`nice`a`guy to say or do anything about it.

Just when does this pattern become deserving of the word 'ploy' or strategy.

Would Mitch have been stronger telling Georges and Jacobs and Forman and everyone else that he WAS going to run and so have the caucasian electorate field mostly to himself, or does it help the cause of refiorm - and himself - more to encourage people to jump in and then jump in himself later, roiling the waters, soaking up the fundraising at a crucial time, and splitting the vote?

Right. Where did Moon start out of - anyone? Anyone?

Where did Moon get his start? Any takers?

oyster said...

How can you rate couhig so far down? Have you no respect for the "inconceivable"?

Jason said...

Troy Henry is certainly stronger than James Perry. AA young professionals will go with him, as will some of the Nagin rump.

Perry has NO base left. Jacobs and Landrieu will wipe out his support among young liberals and young white professionals. Perry will get 2-4%, MAX.

E said...

That is probably an accurate statement.

mominem said...

a-hole? Come on Man man-up.

The statistical possibility exists than the African American candidates will so fragment the African American vote that two white candidates will make it into the run off.

I think Couig has shot his wad, he had a chance to make a difference and blew it. He is discredited with his base, many of who have as much money as he does or are close enough not to be awed.

George Mauer said...

@Jason
I don't know how you can say that James Perry has no support among young professionals. Everyone that I know places him and Jacobs first and second.

Plus I don't see anyone else showing up at net2no last week to learn about the start-up scene.

jeffrey said...

Mauer, are you for real?

Everyone that I know places him (Perry) and Jacobs first and second.

And there you have it. Perry and Jacobs are 1 and 2 with "the start up scene" It's a wonder we aren't inaugurating them tomorrow.

jeffrey said...

Oh right. That George Mauer

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaccurrie/218764061/

Anonymous said...

Jeffery said everything that needs to be said about Mauer's comment.

The net2no crowd is far from an accurate measure of the young professional group as a whole. I'd say that they are a bit attention starved, so I wouldn't be surprised if they vote for James as a protect vote for not being considered for all "40 under 40" spots or some other B.S. like that.

Leigh C. said...

That's the thing about Jacobs and Perry - they are largely appealing to a voting population that DOESN'T LIVE HERE, folks. Their people are in Silicon Valley, or Portland, perhaps NYC or Chicago. The YURP folks are a teensy percentage of the kind of people Jacobs and Perry would probably like to attract to this city, but 'til then, anybody who's going for the mayor's office needs to look at the people who are actually here and run with THEIR needs in mind.

Clancy DuBos said...

Excellent analysis, E. I also would put Troy Henry farther up the food chain, though. I'm not predicting that he'll finish higher than you have him (I try to avoid predictions anyway), but in "handicapping" the race I would definitely say that he has more upward potential than Perry. If he plays his hand well and gets a bit of luck, he could emerge as the most logical African-American alternative to Murray. Not saying that WILL happen, just that he's the only one with a chance to challenge Murray as the consensus black candidate. (The "luck" would involve Murray somehow not catching on or stumbling.)
Again, great analysis of Mitch and his choices.

Anonymous said...

Manny "Chevrolet" Bruno qualified today to run for Mayor. Clearly he has to be considered a front runner with his slogan "Elect a troubled man for troubled times."

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else see this becoming an actual “do over” now with Mitch Landrieu (as himself) vs. Troy Henry (as what Nagin was supposed to be)
I think Landrieu’s stepping into the ring just made Troy Henry the strongest “other” candidate.
I feel Landrieu’s political and public service history trumps Ed Murray who had the strongest “governmental experience” angle- leaving those who would support him with only race as the deciding factor. Landrieu’s experience also trumps Perry, Jacobs, and that judge lady I can’t even think of. Mitch’s race also trumps Georges, Couhig, and Jacobs for people who ‘just want a white mayor’.
Henry gives a business candidate that can appeal to black AND white voters who still want a “business man”. I think his education and business record would appeal to black voters who want to see a successful black business person “succeed” (like being mayor of New Orleans is a successful step up for an executive, but I get it). Also, black and white voters who believe the private market should dictate government and not vise-versa and whites not wanting to see a Landrieu in the mayors office would support Henry (just like Nagin before)
Therefore, I think this is Landrieu’s to lose since he will ultimately be playing the same game as last time. I think Landrieu’s success is all going to rely on how he comes out and plays the field because he should know the opponent pretty well and even better the opposing views against him.

Jeffrey said...

Great analysis, E. Whether this is the strategy that Landrieu is going to play, there is going to be a black candidate and a white candidate in the runoff. I sincerely hope that Mitch really does follow the coalition-building route, which is most certainly the higher road and the bigger challenge, but probably the only chance we have of getting a Mayor who can approximately be our Nutter/Booker/Fenty. Or am I totally romanticizing Landrieu to think that he at least has the potential to be that Mayor?

I agree with the one tweak to the power rankings: Henry's definitely higher than Perry, and has the potential to do better than Georges. The only people I see Georges pulling are those folks that can't vote for a Landrieu. Every other piece of his base will go to one of the other candidates: Republicans to Couhig, young professionals to Jacobs, etc.

Other than that, I'd like to see more elaboration/extemporizing in your list a la Bill Simmons' weekly football rankings :)

E said...

I'm totally with everybody re: Perry. That campaign is woeful.

I ranked him higher just because Henry hasn't really started campaigning yet and Perry did at least generate some attention for himself over the last few weeks. It's not necessarily a reflection of campaign potential. Henry can rise steadily while there isn't a shred of evidence that Perry has some sort of miracle up his sleeve.

Wishful thinking maybe. I just want an electorally credible liberal...

E said...

I did an homage to Simmons with the 'looming v. lurking, lurking v. looming' thing but I need to go further. It will be fun.

Clay said...

I'd have honestly reversed the position in your rankings of Troy Henry and Ed Murray

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