Michael Bagneris walked into Dijon Restaurant just minutes after Mayor Mitch Landrieu finished his victory speech, but the supporters that greeted him were smiling and dancing despite the loss. They applauded the former judge as he made his way to the podium to deliver his final address, and he assured his supporters that the work they'd done over the course of the election hadn't been in vain.
"I'm sure that your hard work will be rewarded because this is not a defeat for you, by virtue of the fact that all that you have done now is call attention to some very serious problems confronting this city," Bagneris said. He thanked both Democrats and Republicans, who he said had come together to support him, and he gave a special thank you to the Patrolman's Association of New Orleans, the firefighters and "the ambassadors to the first visitors to the city, the taxi industry."
Many taxicab drivers stopped by the Lower Garden District restaurant to show their support for Bagneris.
WWL-TV called the race for Landrieu at 8:16 p.m., 16 minutes after the polls closed. Landrieu finished with 64 percent of the vote. Bagneris had 33 percent and NAACP New Orleans president Danatus King had 3 percent.
Bagneris told Gambit he'd continue to lobby for issues he cares deeply about, like public safety, as a private citizen. He won't be considering another run for mayor. "No, never. This was my time," he said. "I have a lot of issues to take care of because I'm working towards retiring. I'm going to work, I have to get my funds together, they've depleted a great deal in relation to this election, so I've got to deal with that."
Still, he said running for mayor put him in a position to keep things moving. "We made a lot of new friends who are very strong on the issues and will work real hard to achieve the resolutions to the kinds of problems we were pointing out, particularly the researchers," he said.
There wasn't much melancholy after Bagneris' speech, either. The band struck up "The Treme Song," followed by Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," and people kept dancing, just as they'd done before the results were in.