Apr 182019

Mayor Mitch Landrieu speaks during the Katrina 10 commemoration at the Smoothie King Center in 2015. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com file photo)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Now that Sen. Bernie Sanders has pulled ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden in the first major national presidential poll of 2019 Democratic contenders, former Mayor Mitch Landrieu should join the race for President. When Landrieu first left office, rumors circulated that he was interested in running, but only if Biden did not make the race.

A year later, Biden is slipping while other fresh-face candidates like South Bend Indiana Mayor Peter Buttigieg are grabbing the spotlight. Released by Emerson College on Monday, the poll included 20 potential candidates. Respondents selected Sanders as their first choice (29%), Biden as their second choice (24%) and Buttigieg as their third choice (9%).

Having Landrieu in the race would be good for Landrieu and for New Orleans. Landrieu would re-tell the New Orleans success story since Katrina, putting the city back in the spotlight at a time when our population is declining and much business growth — outside tourism — has slowed. Landrieu’s positive spin could remind Americans that New Orleans is a great place to visit and can be a good place to live and work. His campaign could also encourage more cities and states to develop stronger plans to deal with weather-related emergencies that have grown exponentially in the past few years.

Like Bernie Sanders, the presidential race could propel Landrieu into the rank of million-dollar earners due to increased sales of his book, “In the Shadow of Statues.” Landrieu could use the campaign as an opportunity to “own” a singular issue that might propel him to the next level.

Presidential campaigns are all about self-promoting, one of Landrieu’s specialties. They produce only one nominee but lots of victors who — with their increased national visibility — position themselves as Cabinet members, opinion leaders, paid public speakers and prolific fundraisers.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee channeled his two presidential campaign losses into a career as a folksy media giant. His family name also helped daughter Sarah become President Trump’s (often embattled) spokesperson. Rick Perry and Ben Carson landed Cabinet spots. Newt Gingrich became a profound sage. The Rev. Al Sharpton used it as a door-opener for his civil rights causes. Rick Santorum is now a respected CNN political commentator.

Long-shot presidential candidates like Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, businessman Andrew Yang, and California Congressman Eric Swalwell have little chance to win. Yet, entering the race has already increased their personal clout and opportunity to have their opinions heard. This could be the year of generational change when a younger, less-entrenched Democrat with a retooled agenda galvanizes broad voter support not just in coastal cities but in America’s Heartland, where the presidential campaign will be won.

Does Mitch Landrieu see the future leader of the free world when he looks in the mirror? Surely he would be sorely disappointed if that fresh face wasn’t his.


Prolific fundraisers Janice Parmelee and Bill Hammack are teaming up with City Councilwoman-at-large Helena Moreno to host a reception tonight for Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris. Harris has already raised $12 million since the campaign began, including contributions from thousands of small-dollar donors. Her average contribution was approximately $55.

Harris is bringing her “For the People” campaign to New Orleans for the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority regional convention, where she is the keynote speaker. A long-time AKA member, Harris also spoke at the Power Rising Conference in New Orleans just two months ago. Tickets to tonight’s fundraiser are available by contacting Veronica@kamalaharris.org.


New Orleanians have a rare opportunity next Tuesday to attend a discussion between two esteemed journalists — former Time managing editor Walt Isaacson and USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page — as part of Loyola’s Institute of Politics 10th annual Ed Renwick Lecture Series.

Page has covered six White House administrations and 10 presidential elections. She recently published a biography of former First Lady Barbara Bush, which has received excellent reviews. Page has also begun a biography of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. A Tulane professor of history, Issacson has written biographies of Leonardo da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Henry Kissinger.

The event is set for Tuesday, April 23, at Loyola University’s Roussel Hall beginning at 7:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public.


Orleans Parish Republican Executive Committee chairman Jay Batt and his wife, Andree Batt, will open their home Wednesday, April 24, to help Criminal Court Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier build a war chest for her 2020 re-election. Joining the Batts on the host committee are David Williams, Julie Quinn, Fenn French, Suzie Terrell, Kyle Schonekas and dozens more.

Danae Columbus, who has had a 30-year career in politics and public relations, offers her opinions on Thursdays. Her career includes stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board and former clients such as District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, City Councilman Jared Brossett, City Councilwoman-at-large Helena Moreno, Foster Campbell, former Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former City Councilwomen Stacy Head and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.