Mitch Landrieu's announcement on Dec. 8 that he'd jump into the mayor's race was an unexpected twist even for Big Easy political insiders (for the story behind Landrieu's change of heart, see Clancy DuBos' column, p. 16). When Gambit profiled Landrieu last month ("Which Way, Mitch?" Nov. 23, 2009), he told us that "one day" he wanted to be governor and he had not changed his mind about running for mayor. While the latter has been flipped on its head, the story does offer a sneak peek at how Landrieu might simultaneously run for mayor while capitalizing on his day job as lieutenant governor.
For example, Landrieu said his team at the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism would unveil a master plan for the New Orleans tourism market before the end of the year. All of the other regions of the state would be grouped together in a separate study in 2010, he added. While New Orleans is the Big Kahuna of tourism in Louisiana, it's difficult not to see how the master plan could play into Landrieu's campaign themes — and garner him media attention — as qualifying gives way to real politicking.
Then there are the quotes that didn't make the original story. As the state scrambles to find ways to reduce unnecessary budget expenditures, Landrieu said during the November interview that he was unwilling to consider closing his department's New Orleans office, a fairly recent creation of his own doing. "We don't have any desire to change that," Landrieu said. "It's going to stay." To be certain, the New Orleans office will be more of a practical spot to serve out his current obligations as lieutenant governor and orchestrate his 2010 campaign for mayor.
He also said in November that if he were to reconsider running for mayor, it would be a decision he makes on his own, and his sister, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, would not be consulted. "We never talk about things like that," Lt. Gov. Landrieu says. "We don't sit down and talk politics and strategy." If there's anyone in the family that he will consult, it'll probably be his father, Moon Landrieu, who served as New Orleans mayor from 1970 to 1978. During the November interview, Landrieu reminisced about his father's time as mayor. More than once he suggested he was born and raised for the job. In particular, the younger Landrieu mentioned the 1973 siege of the Howard Johnson hotel on Loyola Avenue, where Mark Essex was holed up for 10 hours and killed seven people, including three police officers. "I sat underneath the mayor's desk that entire day," he said. "It really gave me a front-row view of how things worked." Today, however, it seems the lieutenant governor is more interested in the view from behind the desk. — Jeremy Alford