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Winnas, Loozas, and Splits in the Citywide Elections 

The 2010 citywide elections brought a major paradigm shift in local politics as voters ignored racial appeals and voted for experience and competence — most of the time. Some political newbies (like mayoral hopeful James Perry) fell short, while others (like City Council candidates Susan Guidry and Kristin Palmer) won big. My usual list of "winnas" and "loozas" thus is supplemented by several "splits." Here goes:

DA WINNAS

  1. New Orleanians: The Feb. 6 primary saw major racial crossover votes — both ways — in the victories of Mitch Landrieu (the first New Orleans mayor to win a majority among blacks as well as whites); council candidates Arnie Fielkow, Stacy Head and Kristin Palmer; judicial candidates Tracey Flemings Davillier and Paula Brown; Sheriff Marlin Gusman; Criminal Court Clerk Arthur Morrell; and Assessor Erroll Williams — all of whom had opponents of another race.

  2. Democrats and the AFL-CIO: Every office on the ballot this year was captured by a Democrat, and the AFL-CIO, long a source of Democratic support, backed individual winners in many races.

  3. BOLD: The Central City black political organization saw Karen Carter Peterson win a Senate seat once held by the group's archenemy Bill Jefferson. Peterson went on to play a big role in helping Susan Guidry beat Jay Batt in the hotly contested District A race for City Council. BOLD also crossed racial lines to back Stacy Head in the council District B race.

 

DA LOOZAS

  1. Ray Nagin: He went on black radio asking African-Americans to vote along racial lines, which is how he won re-election in 2006. Not only did black voters overwhelmingly reject his race-based appeal, the results of Feb. 6 also repudiated Nagin himself.

  2. The GOP: Jay Batt's loss in District A was a major setback for the local Republican Party, which until 2006 had held the council seat for more than 25 years. In the mayor's race, lone GOP candidate Rob Couhig finished with less than half the votes he got in '06. Four years ago, the GOP mantra was, "I'd rather have four more years of Ray than eight years of Mitch." Now they're getting both.

  3. The Franchisees: A lot of familiar names in the black political community proved to be nonfactors this time around. In high-profile contests — most notably mayor and council Districts B and C — black voters supported white candidates over black opponents. The Franchise isn't dead; it's just no longer in the hands of the old powerbrokers.

  4. Leon Cannizzaro: The new DA did not fare well in his first political outing. He endorsed losers in several high-profile races, including John Georges for mayor and Jay Batt for council in District A. He had some down-ballot victories, particularly in Davillier's race for juvenile judge, in which he played a major role. His support for Georges (who supported him for DA) also showed that he pays his political debts.

SPLITS

  1. Dynasties: Mitch Landrieu became the second son of a former mayor to win his dad's old office, and Arthur and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell won their respective races for clerk and City Council. On the other hand, Claude Mauberret's withdrawal from the assessorial runoff brought an end to a century-old dynasty, and Cynthia Willard-Lewis' defeat in the at-large council race reduced her family's political holdings to one judgeship.

  2. Reformers: Landrieu's victory in the mayor's race and wins by Guidry and Palmer in City Council contests gave reformers lots to cheer about, but Janis Lemle's failure to make the assessorial runoff was a major blow to their cause. Likewise, state Rep. Austin Badon carried the reform mantle in District E but fell short in the runoff.

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