We are not fans of racial divisiveness. But lots of time in politics, voting occurs along racial lines. This election cycle may be a prime example of that.
Danae drove to Judge Michael Bagneris’ home early this morning because she wanted to be among the first to show her support for the Bagneris For Mayor Campaign. Actually, Danae should have gone yesterday evening when a small crowd gathered on Bagneris’ doorstep. In light of Bagneris’ resignation yesterday from his long-time post at Civil District Court, chances are very strong that he will qualify prior to the 4:30 p.m. Friday cutoff.
As many Uptown Messenger readers might recall, several weeks ago we wrote that a prominent African-American elected official was contemplating the race for mayor. As a sitting judge, Bagneris was not allowed to discuss the race publically. But, he has been taking counsel from several trusted advisers. Last week Bagneris commissioned a poll, the results of which he received yesterday. They were obviously encouraging.
Why would Bagneris risk his family’s financial security for a race he is not certain to win? Bagneris believes that the people of New Orleans need a new mayor to solve some of the most basic problems that still hold the city back – crime and jobs. We also think Bagneris would use his judicial experience to better evaluate both sides of issues and seek compromise.
Danae spent much of yesterday at Arthur Morrell’s office where more than 25 handlers and their candidates – including all the incumbents – came to qualify such as Marlin, Susan, Jackie, Stacy, Cynthia, James, Arthur, Dale, Erroll, LaToya, Mitch and Coroner Frank Minyard. Also came challengers Nadine Ramsey and Jared Brossett for open seats, Charles Foti, Danatus King, Eugene Green, Joe Bouie, Ira Thomas, Dwight McKenna, Vincent Culotta, Jr., Quentin Brown, Jeffrey Rouse, Freddie Charbonnet, Jason Williams, Drew Ward and Cynthia Willard-Lewis, who qualified through proxy delivered by her brother Dominick.
Some of these incumbents (like Jackie, James and Susan) and one candidate (Jared Brossett) have already received Landrieu’s endorsement. Landrieu is smart for wanting to line up as many votes as possible on the Council.
Bagneris could be putting his own slate of candidates and issues together. We hear his issues list is quite long and full of people and organizations that Landrieu has tussled with.
African-American candidates in general including Cynthia Willard-Lewis could be big winners if Bagneris enters the race. Cynthia Willard-Lewis came out of the LIFE/Morial organization just like Bagneris. Willard-Lewis’ campaign kick-off is tonight at Lace Ballroom in eastern New Orleans.
Bagneris headed up almost all of Dutch Morial’s campaign teams and many of its members are still around. Folks like former Morial co-horts Claude Reese (father of Judy Reese Morris), Bill Schultz, Cheron Brylski, Roslyn Peychaud, Bobby Major, Paul Valteau, Errol Williams, Madlyn Bagneris, Irma Dixon, Bridget DePland (now Mrs. Cedric Grant) and Danae. Look for at least a few of them to help Bagneris in this race.
Some African-Americans are saying they will be going door to door, a la Obama, to turn out black voters. If this movement comes together it could hurt white candidates like our friend Charles Foti, who wants to return to the sheriff’s office. Foti made strong remarks to the media at qualifying yesterday saying that after being gone from the Sheriff’s Office for 10 years, Marlin Gusman could not blame him for any deficiencies. He further indicated there is nothing wrong with the buildings at the prison. The problems lie with the management. Furthermore, Foti said he believes in the rank and file men and women who run the prison but that they need better leadership.
Many New Orleanians are anxiously anticipating Bagneris’ decision. Less than 36 hours to go. After qualifying closes, there will be three quick opportunities to mix and mingle with all the candidates if you have an invitation – Arthur Morrell’s Christmas Party Friday evening, the Alliance For Good Government’s Legislator of the Year Banquet Saturday evening at the Hilton, and Justice & Beyond’s Holiday Celebration Monday evening at Christian Unity Baptist Church. See you there!
Open seat in Civil District Court?
With Bagneris’ resignation, it is possible that an interim judge will be named and an election held as early as spring. Likely candidates could include Clint Smith, Nakisha Irwin Knott, and Richard Perque. Any of these three would mount a very viable campaign.
Jackie Clarkson and Kristin Gisleson-Palmer come to terms
We all know that Kristin did not want to resign and Jackie had planned to retire. What a difference a week makes! Last Saturday, the two exchanged words at the annual Algiers bonfire as to who was going to run and who was going to go home. By Tuesday it was all settled – Jackie announced and Kristin was in the background wearing dark glasses. Let’s say it again, it is not always easy or fun to be an elected official.
This may be the last column we (or at least Danae) writes about most campaigns during this cycle. Danae expects to sign up with a few candidates. So we’ll see if ole’ Allan can still cover a political campaign or maybe he will have to write about more mundane issues.
Allan Katz spent 25 years as a political reporter and columnist at The Times-Picayune, and is now editor of the Kenner Star and host of several televsion programs, including the Louisiana Newsmaker on Cox Cable. Danae Columbus is executive producer of Louisiana Newsmaker, and has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. They both currently work for the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by their public relations firm are City Councilwoman Stacy Head, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and council candidate Dana Kaplan.