Former appeals court Judge Leon Cannizzaro has made the first TV ad buy in the campaign for district attorney in New Orleans. Cannizzaro formally announced his candidacy last Wednesday (April 30), and now he has upped the ante in the race by going on TV less than a week later.
Cannizzaro kept politicos guessing for months as to whether he would quit his judgeship (as required by state law when judges run for any non-judicial post) to run for DA. Once it became clear that he was indeed going to run, the speculation immediately switched to whether Cannizzaro could raise the money to match his most visible announced opponent, former first assistant DA Ralph Capitelli. Capitelli, who announced his own candidacy months ago, has raised approximately $450,000 so far and spent about $100,000 none of it yet on TV. Cannizzaros opening buy sends a message that the former judge has no intention of being out-spent.
To see the 30-second ad on YouTube, click here.
Here is the script for the ad:
Announcer Voiceover: With violent crime spiraling out of control in New Orleans, one man has made a total commitment to fight it. His commitment is so strong that he gave up a judgeship to run for District Attorney. Leon Cannizzaros 30 years in the criminal justice system has prepared him to become our next D.A.
Cannizzaro (speaking to audience): I am declaring war on the criminal element of the city of New Orleans. (Audience cheers)
Voiceover: Cannizzaro. Hes made the commitment. Will you?
Meanwhile, a recent survey of New Orleans voters done by Verne Kennedy for a group of local business people has Cannizzaro and Capitelli tied at 19 percent each. The poll was taken April 25-26, a few days before Cannizzaro formally announced his candidacy. No other candidates names were included in the poll. Other candidates who have announced include prosecutor Linda Bizzarro and attorney Jason Williams. Neither Bizzarro nor Williams has raised anywhere near the cash of Cannizzaro or Capitelli thus far, and it remains to be seen if they will become major candidates.
In the polls two-man trial heat, Cannizzaro and Capitelli were almost mirror images of one another in terms of their black and white support. Cannizzaro got 15 percent of the white vote and 22 percent of the black vote; Capitelli got 25 percent of the white vote and 14 percent of the black vote.
The open primary is set for Oct. 4, with a runoff expected on Nov. 4 (the same date as the presidential election, which could factor into this race in a big way if a black candidate makes the runoff). Qualifying will be July 9-11.