Thursday, January 14, 2010

#Nolamayor piques national attention

The campaign to elect the next mayor of New Orleans has attracted a wave of national attention. The AP, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times all wrote reports within the last week to brief readers about the mayor's race and the real possibility that New Orleans will elect a white mayor for the first time in over a generation.

Check them all out and see if you agree with the analysis:

Campbell Robertson of the New York Times, "Race Assumes Central Role in New Orleans Vote"
Richard Faussett of the Los Angeles Times, "In New Orleans, a white candidate leads the field"
Kevin McGill of the Associated Press, "Mostly black New Orleans could pick white Mayor"

State Senator Ed Murray's exit from the race and the collective gasp of many members of the city's African American political elite when he did, seems to have been the impetus for the wave of national dispatches.

The three stories are not appreciably different, but do emphasize different reasons for the loss of African American political unity.

McGill points to the decline of African American middle class neighborhoods as a result of the Katrina tragedy as "undercutting efforts by black candidates to raise money and build voter support."

Faussett describes "buyer's remorse" in the African American community and points to universal disapproval of Mayor Nagin in polls and ongoing federal investigations.

Robertson's piece similarly discusses "buyer's remorse" and - I love this line - the "low wattage" of most contenders prior to Landrieu's entry. Robertson's description of "the franchise" and the significance of political power for the African American community is also very interesting.

Black professionals refer to the office as “the franchise,” the counterweight to the economic power of New Orleans’s white elite. For the past three decades, the black private sector — the lawyers, businessmen and architects — has relied on the franchise: they may not always be able to become board members at the city’s white-owned firms, but black professionals turned to the city government for contracts and jobs.

I think these are damn fine write-ups all things considered. How about you all? Any nits to pick?


Geoffrey said...

My only gripe with the New York Times article is that it seems to play up Ed Murray's popularity just before he dropped out. At least according to an article by Clancy DuBos (, Murray was trailing Troy Henry by 3 percentage points before exiting the race. More importantly, the NY Times failed to recognize that both Murray and Henry had only a small fraction of overall votes (12% and 9% respectively), in a large part due to Landrieu's popularity across racial lines. While it may have been conventional wisdom that the run-off was going to be a racially divisive competition between Murray and Landrieu, I'm not sure this was actually reflected in how each candidate was polling. The times article hints at this at the end, when they talk about the almost post-racial quality of Landrieu's popularity, the title seems to miss this issue completely.

jeffrey said...

Surprisingly good for the most part. I think one of the difficult things to convey to an out-of-town audience is that New Orleans politics is dominated by conservative business elites and that the office-holding class of conservative business elites have, for the better part of the past 20 years, been black conservative business elites. It's kind of an intuitive thing for local observers to get but takes a lot of work to translate.

Anonymous said...

NYT article is amazingly balanced--fist national media on New Orleans politics to use African American sources (instead of Clancy and company), including the Tribune's "betrayal" op-ed. All three of the articles finally get it that the 2006 the election was about the fear of losing neighborhoods. This time it more about fear of the loss of parity and equity, which is not as intense.

Anonymous said...

Excellent point by Jeffrey. And, by the way, "Let God speak."

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